John Brandon

Barack Obama wins Web 2.0 race

By John Brandon
August 19, 2008 7:00 AM EDT

Barack Obama has won! Barack Obama has won! That's right, in a nearly uncontested race for digital superiority, the upstart Democratic presidential nominee has obliterated John McCain at the digital polls, trouncing his opponent with an Internet onslaught that is almost embarrassing for the Republican nominee.

Here's some interesting tidbits from the race:

1. On FaceBook, Obama is so far ahead that the race is over. He has over 1.3M friends compared to a paltry 200K for McCain. All things being equal, the McCain FaceBook site looks like it was designed by an eighth grade civics class and Obama's looks remarkably clean and professional.

2. MySpace, which seems a little more focused on media distribution than anything else these days, also reveals an obvious winner. Obama's site is more personal with blog entries and lots of doodads: posters, buttons, videos. McCain's site looks almost comatose with few updates and a cluttered, hurried design. Obama has almost 500K friends on MySapce and McCain only has about 63K.

3. Obama has a MyBo service that lets you sign up to get news updates, speech texts, and lots of info for helping with the campaign. It has a catchy name, which is important for Web 2.0 visitors trying to remember what it's called. You can even get a text when the candidate picks his running mate for VP. McCain's site is more static and the design looks like a portal for television commercials more than anything. It has an old-school registration process instead of something that looks and acts like Web 2.0.

4. On YouTube, McCain is getting traction, according to a recent Computerworld report, with a surge in traffic. He may even have people burying negative links at Digg.com. Yet, it seems every portal for Obama is filled with video links and multimedia, whereas the McCain campaign is stuck in 1992.

5. Perhaps the most revealing stat: Obama has almost 63K people following him on Twitter, while McCain barely has 1,500. Twitter seems like an afterthought even though it could create the most personal connection among voters.

So what does all of this mean? Could Obama win because he has a more dedicated fanbase online? Maybe, maybe not. He is younger, and has obviously emphasized Web 2.0 to a much greater extent than John McCain, but winning the online vote is not the same as winning the election.