Everyone's talking about how this election is the first true "social media" election, and it's true that 2012 will probably see the most attempts at these types of connections from candidates to voters than ever before (way more the 2008). Although a candidates Facebook and Twitter presence are now a crucial part of their campaign, we can't forget that a candidates plain old website is still the main place that people go for a variety of reasons.
Maybe it's to find out a candidate's position on a certain issue or to read their whole platform. Maybe it's to sign up to volunteer or to make a donation, For whatever the reason, candidates' main sites are the portal to their campaigns.
On that note, Nielsen just released a study about the candidates' sites. They profiled visits in January from folks of voting age and looked at not only the volume of traffic to the sites, but also the demographics of those visitors.
And it should come as no surprise that the sitting President garnered the most visitors to his site. But the margin was pretty wide. In fact, in the month of January, BarackObama.com received 1.2 million more unique visitors than RonPaul2012.com, RickSantorum.com, Newt.org, and MittRomney.com. Combined.
Nielsen looked at some demographics of the unique visitors as well. Here's what they found:
Female Visitors: Rick Santorum
Women made up over 60 percent of the audience to RickSantorum.com, the largest male/female split among the candidates.
Male Visitors: Ron Paul
Only Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich’s sites drew more men than women (56% and 51%, respectively), but RonPaul2012.com wins this demo by 4.3 percentage points.
Visitors aged 18-34: Ron Paul
Ron Paul, the oldest of the 2012 presidential candidates, has the youngest visitors—over a third are 18-34.
Visitors over age 50: Barack Obama
More than half (52%) of President Obama’s visitors are over the age of 50, and those aged 50-64 are the most concentrated on his site.
Affluent Visitors: Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich’s audience is the most affluent and educated, as 27 percent make over $100K and half have a Bachelor’s or Post-Grad degree.
Hispanic Visitors: Mitt Romney
Hispanics made up 17 percent of the audience to MittRomney.com, 37 percent more Hispanics than were active online during January 2012 (12%).
Visits to a candidate's website don't correlate to votes, as there are a number of reasons (both positive and negative) that any given person would go there. And there's not much sense in pointing out the fact that Ron Paul's site saw the most unique visitors in January, as that was two months ago, and a lot has changed in the race since then. But there are some interesting finds concerning the demographics, some that the candidates should definitely take notice of - particularly, how many women are flocking to Rick Santorum's site and how many Hispanic voters are going to Romney's.