The 2012 Presidential Campaign: Who’s Winning Online?

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 95 views 

It’s only one month until the Presidential election and the debates are finally starting. So, forgetting all the polls for a moment, let’s look at some numbers that are available through actual analytics.

Where do the two candidates currently stand online? How big is their following and just how much visitor activity are their websites getting?

I’m not 100% convinced that this is a great measure of the success of a candidate, but it does at least give us a snapshot of their performance.

Search Trends

First, we’ll look at the main source of data, Google Trends. Based on Google Trends, which reports on the search volume around a key topic, I’ve strictly looked at U.S.-based traffic for “Obama” and “Romney”.

Google Trends:  Obama vrs Romney

This graph shows the last 90 days of activity (through Oct 3) for both candidates with President Obama maintaining a consistent edge in search interest over Romney. Some of this will be due to the everyday activity that President Obama has simply because he is the President, but there is clearly a solid lead according to Google. As you can see, there have been major spikes around the time of each party’s convention, but it quickly dropped back down to normal levels.  During the first debate, Romney took a quick jump in search volume. Time will tell if he can hold on to this momentum.

Their Website Visitors

If we look at, another service which attempts to measure activity on a given website, there are similar results. As of 8/20, Compete is reporting 3.2 million visitors for and close to 6.8 million visitors for Romney’s website seems to have a sharper growth curve than President Obama, but he obviously has some catching up to do.

Obama Trend on

Romney Trends on

In Social Media

There has been a lot of controversy around each campaign’s number of social media followers, but if you just look at the current number of Facebook Likes, Romney is around 8 million but President Obama is clearly winning with 29 million Likes.

Over on Twitter, President Obama touts 20.5 million followers to Romney’s 1.29 million followers.  But again, President Obama has had a lot of extra time to build up an extremely large following. This would give any incumbent a greater edge when reaching out to grassroots followers directly.

The Obama campaign was extremely successful online in the previous campaign season, and it looks like they are dominating this time around as well, especially in social media. It will be very interesting to see if the actual voting numbers in a month match up to what we are seeing online.

John Paul Mains is a web analyst and long time brand champion for online businesses. He runs Optimization Labs, a web agency redefining how websites generate leads and business. He is also the author of the e-book “A Marketer’s Guide to Building High Conversion Websites“. You can reach him on Twitter @johnpaulmains or by email.