New Yahoo Dashboard Handicaps Candidates for Political Junkies
The new feature compares the standing of Democratic and Republican presidential candidates side-by-side in four basic categories: polling, "Y! buzz," prediction markets, and funding raised.
Poll numbers are based on aggregated polling averages from Real Clear Politics, while "Y! buzz" shows the relative popularity of candidates based on Yahoo search queries. (Data based on Google queries might have been more representative of the online population, but don't expect Yahoo to team up with Google any time soon.)
The prediction markets data indicates candidates' chances of winning their party nomination based on information supplied by Irish company Intrade, which lets investors buy "shares" in candidates.
Fund-raising totals are tracked quarterly, while the other categories are updated daily.
The dashboard also includes indicator arrows for each category (except money raised) showing whether a candidate's support is trending up or down.
The political scoreboard highlights some intriguing contrasts. Internet favorite Ron Paul, for instance, registers at just 4% in the polls among Republican candidates, but has the highest buzz rating of any candidate at 50%. Paul's status as the Howard Dean of the 2008 election was reinforced by his breaking the one-day record for online fund-raising, with $6 million on December 16. Paul broke his own previous record of $4.2 million, raised back on November 5.
Meanwhile, Rudolph Giuliani, who leads the Republican field at 23% in the polls, is generating only 5% buzz.
The dashboard also highlights the lag between Mike Huckabee's recent surge in popularity and his fund-raising efforts. While in a near dead heat with Giuliani in the polls at 20%, Huckabee has raised only $2 million, a fraction of the $48 million raised by the former New York City mayor.
Democrat Hillary Clinton posted by far the strongest numbers in polling (44%), prediction markets (58%) and fund-raising, with $91 million so far. But Barack Obama, who leads Clinton in polling for the upcoming Iowa Caucus, still beat out the Democratic frontrunner in the buzz category, with 48% to Clinton's 31%.
In addition to national data, Yahoo's political dashboard also provides state-by-state polling and buzz tracking via a U.S. map that lets users click on a given state to find information.
The site also breaks down the electorate by race, with Caucasians making up 66%; Hispanics, 15%; African-Americans, 12%; Asians, 4%; and other, 3%.
Teaming with the Associated Press, Yahoo last month also launched Political Pulse, a series of presidential polls over the next year that will examine how Americans feel about various issues and the candidates.
Nor is Yahoo alone in the rush to handicap the candidates online.
Separately, on Monday, Forrester Research analysts Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff posted research on their Groundswell blog showing that Democrats are at least 10% more likely to be involved in online social technologies than Republicans.
For example, Republicans are 22% less likely to join a social network and 21% less likely to blog or upload an online video, according to a survey of 10,000 Internet users nationwide.
The Forrester findings, however, don't seem to explain the online success of Paul, a Republican candidate whose anti-war stance and libertarian views have struck a chord with the so-called "netroots." The study only included research on the top four candidates in either party.
"[Paul's] supporters make a lot of noise online, but that noise is significantly out of proportion to his level of support in the electorate," observes Forrester's Bernoff. Even so, the amount of money Paul has raised online lately is not insignificant.