Commentary

The Political Horse Race Is On

I’m playing with a new tool called Political Monitor that lets me monitor the email campaigns and Web site traffic of all the political campaigns and contenders. Here are some early results.

Frequency: It’s interesting to compare the frequency of email messages sent out by the various campaigns, both Republican and Democratic, and to compare frequency with Web site traffic numbers.

Top of the list is John Edwards, with 11 email drops over the past 30 days. As I reported in my blog, there is also some interesting affiliate links driving traffic to the Edwards site as well, specifically an email newsletter called The Freebie Swamp that offers a link to a free “Stop the War” bumper sticker that goes directly to the Edwards Web page.

Next on the list is Joe Biden, with nine campaign emails in the last 30 days, followed by Barack Obama with seven, Hillary Clinton, five, Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd with four each, and Mike Gravel at zero.

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As far as Web site traffic goes, though, Hillary is way out in front, dwarfing everyone else. Take Hillary out of the equation and Obama and Edwards pretty much are battling it out for a far distant second and third place. It will be interesting to see how this changes as things heat up.

On the Republican side of things, it’s clearly Newt Gingrich who has embraced the whole email thing. In fact, Newt outpaces everyone, Democratic or Republican when it comes to staying in close touch with his base: 20 email campaign messages in the last 30 days! Mitt Romney is also no slouch, sending off 12 email epistles in the same period, followed by John McCain and Mike Huckabee with seven, and Ron Paul with one.

Most interesting, Rudy Giuliani, Sam Brownback, and Tommy Thompson have sent zero emails, as they apparently have not embraced interactive marketing when it comes to political campaigning.

On the Web traffic side, a huge surprise to me was that Ron Paul was way, way out in front -- a lead obviously not generated by his email campaigns. Apparently Ron has awakened the blogosphere and they are responding with a lot of traffic to the site. Mitt is a not-so-close second, followed distantly by John McCain. Rudy doesn’t even register on the graph.

In fact, the Republican contenders as a group encompass both the most and least frequent users of email compared to the Democrats.

As far as mentioning the other party’s candidates in their email drops, in the last 30 days:

Hillary is mentioned in four separate occasions by Newt Gingrich and once each by Mitt Romney and John McCain. Barack Obama is mentioned once each by Chris Dodd, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.

On the other hand, McCain is not mentioned by any of the Democratic candidates but is mentioned numerous times by Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, and of course Newt.

So, what does it all mean? You’ll have to draw your own conclusions but for me, it is like any product: you better drive people to your web site and stay engaged with them if you want to sell the product. Based on just email drops and web site traffic, Rudy and some of the other candidates better get their interactive act together, and by all means don’t underestimate Newt. On the Democratic side, it seems like a one-horse race, at least as far as Internet interest is concerned.

And of course there is much more. We’ll be tracking all the Congressional campaigns as well into the 2008 elections.

Anyone who is working with a political candidate or a political organization and would like to learn more about this data, please email me. I think you’ll find it fascinating.

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