On to New Hampshire: Will Internet traffic there predict winner?

By Heather Havenstein
January 04, 2008 3:27 PM EST

As we continue to track the effects of a candidate’s Web 2.0 efforts on the race for the White House, it is interesting to take a look at how accurate some of the predictions for the Iowa Caucus were based on Internet traffic in that state. And it is a good time to take a look at how traffic in New Hampshire is lining up behind the various candidates as a possible predictor of the outcome for the nation’s first primary on Jan. 8.

On the night before Thursday’s caucus in Iowa, Hitwise measured the volume of traffic the candidate Web sites were receiving from Iowa and ranked those sites among the top 100 political Web sites based on traffic for the previous four weeks ending on Jan. 3.

According to Hitwise, Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) web site logged the most traffic in Iowa, which corresponded to his big win there among the Democratic candidates. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) ranked just behind Obama, according to the Hitwise statistics (although in actuality she fell just behind former Sen. John Edwards in the caucus results).

Rep Ron Paul (R-Tex.), who has had the largest online presence of any candidate in the race and has mastered online fund-raising with his grassroots supporters, pulled in the most traffic, Hitwise said, followed by former Gov. Mike Huckabee (who was the night’s big winner for the Republicans).

But as Computerworld noted in our article looking at the candidates’ use of Web 2.0 tools leading up to the Iowa Caucus, Paul’s use of various online tools has resulted in monumental fund-raising efforts, but may not have been connected enough to the campaign to translate into offline activities that resulted in getting the votes needed to surpass others in his party. Huckabee, on the other hand, has been more successful in prompting online supporters to help organize offline events that had more potential to generate votes, according to sources for that story.

As far as traffic in New Hampshire goes, as of the four weeks leading up to Jan. 3, Hitwise noted that Obama still led the pack, followed by Clinton on the Democratic side. But on the Republican side, Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) led the Republicans as far as traffic from New Hampshire, followed by Huckabee and then Paul. Edwards and former Gov. Mitt Romney rounded out the top seven candidates as far as traffic from New Hampshire.

It will be interesting to see which candidates come out on top in New Hampshire and match that back to their varying efforts of tapping into the Web 2.0 world.