Note: This research was covered by Pandodaily on October 25th, 2012.
Presidential Election Now Decided Online
As we continue to move toward Election Day on November 6th and we contemplate the factors that will influence the outcome of the Presidential election, we are reminded that what happens online is increasingly crucial in influencing public opinion. In fact, Wired Magazine went so far as to declare that it was the internet that elected Barack Obama in 2008 (Propelled by Internet, Barack Obama Wins Presidency). Clearly, controlling internet messaging, breadth of online reach, and galvanizing online voters has become a new language in the electoral process.
Romney Making Significantly Bigger Push Online than Obama
An analysis of the online strategies of the two campaigns show the Romney camp is working hard to build on his recent debate success, pushing far harder than Obama online in the run-up to the election. Although his overall Twitter and Facebook followers still trails that of Obama, his followers grew from March to October by 222% for Twitter and 429% on Facebook, compared to 53% and 13% respectively for Obama.
Romney Increases Control of Search Messaging
Controlling messaging in online search is equally critical for candidates in the modern electoral process. Tens of millions of voters turn to Google to research Presidential candidates and their stance on political topics. Ensuring that their official website is at the top of the search results for politically crucial searches means the candidates can control messaging and ensure voters see the message that the candidates want them to see.
Our analysis of the candidates’ critical search terms representing multiple millions of monthly Google searches in Conductor’s Enterprise SEO Platform, Searchlight, showed the Romney camp has made huge strides in controlling messaging in the search results, increasing visibility at a far greater rate than Obama. In February, Romney’s official website appeared on page one of the search results for searches related to his campaign less than half the time. By September, his website appeared on page one 56% of the time, only one percentage point less than Obama’s.
Romney Spends Nearly 2x More on Google Advertising
In addition to increasing visibility in the organic search results, Romney’s campaign has also been busy in the paid search listings—the advertisements that run down the right side of Google’s search page. From October to March their spend on search advertisements were 1/7th that of Obama while from April to September it increased by more than 1300%, growing spend to nearly double that of the Obama campaign:
Whatever the Electoral outcome, the Battle Online Will Be Crucial
As seen in the 2008 election, what happens online is critical to the ultimate outcome of the presidential election. In reading the recent digital body language of the candidates’ campaigns, it is clear that in the run-up to Election Day 2012, the Romney campaign is making a significant push online, growing social following, Google search visibility, and paid search spend at rates substantially greater than that of the Obama campaign.
Although the upcoming presidential debates are likely to do a great deal in helping voters to decide where to cast their vote, it is clear that Romney’s campaign is making a huge final push online as the nation moves closer to Election Day 2012.