Can We Predict The Outcome of The Presidential Election With Each Candidate's Traffic Data?

Can traffic to a Presidential Candidate’s homepage be used to gauge who will win this year’s election? Hitwise has published recent data on the traffic both American presidential candidates have seen in the last month (ending 8/23), and while the results may not shed much light on the forthcoming election’s outcome, they reveal a few interesting trends.

Hitwise has ranked each state by two criteria: its contribution to each site’s total traffic, and the the overall likelihood that a user in the state will visit the candidate’s site (called the Representation index). If either metric is applicable to the election, it will be Representation Index, which indicates the candidate’s popularity on a per-state basis and isn’t affected by the state’s population.

Unsurprisingly, California represents the most traffic share for both candidates, accounting for 13% of Obama’s total traffic and 12% of McCain’s. But both candidates have also seen a similar Representation Index from the state, which means that a similar number of Californians have visited each site. Given the state’s Democratic history, this is surprising – apparently Californians are interested in learning about the opposition. Conversely, in left-leaning New York, McCain’s site has only seen about half as much traffic as Obama’s.

Hitwise also notes that the highest Representation Index for Obama came from Maryland, Colorado, New Mexico, Georgia, and DC, while McCain’s come from Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, and Louisiana. More of McCain’s states are “battlegrounds”, but there’s no way of knowing if people are visiting these sites because they like him or hate him – perhaps the traffic stats from McCainSpace would be a better indicator.