With the historic presidential election of 2008 now in the rearview mirror, it is appropriate to look at some interesting facts about the race, especially as it relates to new media.
- The Obama campaign was known to have a clear edge in the overall money race. They apparently put that to good use online as data from Nielsen Online shows that the campaign launched an unprecedented online advertising blitz in September. At its peak, this effort topped 400 million image-based ad impressions per week. Unlike typical television and radio advertising campaigns, it ebbed to half that level by mid-October. It is unclear why the campaign cut back.
- The McCain campaign had a far more modest online advertising effort, topping out at about 25 million weekly image-based ad impressions in mid-August. By mid-October (the last numbers released by Nielsen Online), the campaign was at about 5 million weekly impressions.
- Despite lagging in the online advertising wars, the McCain campaign had a clear edge in video viewing on its web site. In September, 3.2 million video streams were watched by 1.3 million people at JohnMcCain.com, as compared to 2.0 million video streams watched by 1.1 million people at BarackObama.com. Of course, these numbers do not account for videos promoting the campaign that may have been viewed at other locations.
- Online news media, as expected, was a major beneficiary of the campaign season, with news sites as a category seeing page views double on Election Day as compared to the previous Tuesday, according to Nielsen statistics.
- The leading online news destinations on Election Day were CNN, MSNBC, and Yahoo! News. All three leaders garnered fairly similar traffic. Others in the top 10, though with considerably less traffic, included: Fox News, AOL News, NYTimes.com, Google News, Tribune Newspapers, WashingtonPost.com, and USAToday.com.
- Despite the apparent online interest, a study by American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate found that voter turnout in 2008 was on par with the 2004 election. While Democrats turned out in higher numbers than four years ago, Republicans were more likely to stay home.