Over the last few decades, the internet has evolved into a treasure trove of information, research, and data. Most of us turn to the web as an all-knowing resource whenever we have questions to be asked or itches to be scratched.
As we’ve discussed before, social media users have a notable influence in the way people vote. Not only is it easier to share information via social networks, but these collective communities tend to vote similarly. (See related Mashable story)
But how else can the internet predict where voters might cast their ballot? We turn to the first place any campaign-information-craving citizen would go: the official website of each presidential candidate.
Experian‘s Hitwise division has been partnered with iCharts since June to showcase the ebb and flow of traffic based on pivotal campaign events and organic inquiries of citizens seeking information. It’s easy to understand why the numbers rise steadily as we get closer to elections, but there are a number of areas where spikes in website clicks call our attention to the events circling that date.
For example, in the last 90 days the biggest increase in online traffic to Obama’s website happened between September 6 and 7; the same day that the Democratic National Convention was held and the subsequent day when media was abuzz with stats and facts from his speech. The same spike occured for Romney on the day he gave his GOP Convention Speech. Yet no matter how large the scale of any Republican event or speech, the hits on Romney’s website have not come close to the President’s.
So, what does this data mean for Election Day results? Truth is, it could be telling of many things:
People simply want to know more about each candidate’s policies and they’re reading up on campaign updates.
The demographics of online behavior are beginning to shape offline behavior. Undeniably search and social traffic is driven by key age groups and backgrounds.
Or, new voter registration, volunteering or donating to either campaign are on the rise.
But the biggest mystery - do these numbers reflect who will receive more votes on November 6?
At iCharts, it’s fair to say we’re a little data obsessed. We’re particularly data obsessed as it relates to this year’s U.S. Presidential Election.
Why? Because we’re witnessing, first-hand, dramatic shifts in how voters and politicians interact with one another based on technological advances in recent years. Entertaining or serious, it’s come a long way in four years and even farther in the last two hundred.
Campaign Tracking in the 1800s
Campaign Tracking in 2012
Mashable’s Politics Transformed has had some great observations about this shift, highlighting a wide array of factors, all fueled by technological advances, that are shifting political behavior.
Real-Time Communications Have Been Accelerated By…
Social networks (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) where over 30% of the world spends their time on a daily basis. An Experian-Hitwise chart on iCharts puts more emphasis on this, showing week-over-week how Social consistently leads the pack on where voters seek and share information about candidates.
We Have More Accessibility to (Decision-Driving) Data
InfoUSA, Acxiom, Votizen and more are defining how User Data is collected to improve voter targeting via email, social, display media and search channels.
Candidate Data is also more rapidly collected and shared, be it poll stats, funding-raising information, or an analysis of how xyz candidate is marketing themselves on the web.
Visual Social Marketing Is the New Form of Communication
We touched on this topic a few weeks ago, but worth noting again that visualization tools are changing the way we share information. The explosion of cloud-based interactive, design and data-rich visualizations are proof that how-we-consume-content has changed forever. Marketers and political candidates alike must face the reality that technology has sped up the frequency and format in how we engage with news, creating an insatiable appetite for uber visual, bite-size news stories versus long-form, text-centric articles.
Which elements do you believe will define which candidate wins on Election Day?