The bad news: Traffic to BarackObama.com grew fivefold to 2.2 million in January, leaving Clinton trailing by a much wider margin in attracting visitors online. Obama and Clinton remained the top political draws on the Web last month, according to new data from comScore.
But whereas Obama and Clinton stood relatively close in generating traffic in December (417,000 to 378,000), the once-underdog candidate has now doubled his lead over the former First Lady. The surge only reinforces the long-standing advantage Obama has enjoyed in attracting online support through his appeal among younger voters and independents.
Beyond site traffic, Obama is well ahead of Clinton in just about any Web 2.0 metric that has emerged during the 2008 election: Facebook supporters (589,224 to 120,216 as of press time), MySpace friends (287,715 to 185,709), and YouTube views (21.1 million to 7.6 million). In the last category, Obama has recently gotten a ratings boost through the "Yes We Can!" video featuring the Black Eyed Peas' singer Will.i.am and a cast of celebrity supporters from Scarlett Johansson to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
So far, it has been viewed almost 4.5 million times, closing in on the total for the notorious "1984" anti-Hillary ad posted last year by former Obama staffer Phil de Vellis without authorization from the candidate's campaign.
Perhaps most important, Obama has been able to use the Internet as a key fund-raising tool. Of the $32 million his campaign raised in January, $28 million came from mostly small donors online.
On the Republican side, presumptive nominee John McCain showed the biggest gains last month, with traffic to his site more than tripling to 596,000 from 165,000 visitors. Even with that increase, however, he still trailed the online audiences for Internet favorite Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee and ex-presidential hopeful Mitt Romney in January.
An analysis of the candidate sites last November in Media magazine gave McCain's Web presence a grade of "C," and he hasn't had much to brag about online since. One bright spot for McCain: He's taken over the lead in online buzz from Paul--44% to 30%, according to Yahoo's Political Dashboard. The score shows the percentage of user searching for a specific topic on a given day.
Breaking into the top five political sites last month, among the candidates, was political blog Politico. Started a year ago by a pair of ex-Washington Post reporters, Politico was the third-highest-ranked political site after Obama and Clinton, with 995,000 visitors--up from 541,000 in December. Display advertisers on the site span a range of marketers including Novartis, Capital One, Verizon Wireless, Askcom and...Barack Obama.