SOURCE: The Nielsen Company

July 07, 2008 10:00 ET

And Then There Were Two: Obama Has Head Start in Online Race to the White House, According to Nielsen Online

U.S. Online Population Is Overwhelmingly Registered to Vote and Politically Engaged

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - July 7, 2008) - Nielsen Online, a service of The Nielsen Company, today reported that Senator Barack Obama's campaign Web site outpaced Senator John McCain's in May, the final month of the Democratic primary season. garnered 2.3 million unique visitors during the month, compared to McCain's 563,000 (see Table 1).

Obama's campaign placed considerably more image-based online advertising impressions in May, with McCain's campaign leading in search sponsored links.

"Barack Obama got a head start during primary season in using the Web effectively to garner support, both in terms of votes and donations," said Jon Gibs, vice president, media analytics, Nielsen Online. "It will be interesting to see how things shape up online as we head toward the general election. McCain's Web site includes both video and social networking capabilities, which have proven successful for his Democratic rival. Now that the contest has shifted away from the primary season, McCain may gain more traction online. But it remains to be seen if his core demographic will embrace the medium the way Obama's has."

Table 1: Web Metrics for Barack Obama and John McCain Presidential Campaigns

(U.S., Home and Work)

Candidate                            Barack Obama    John McCain
---------                            ------------    -----------
Unique Audience (000)                     2,300            563
Image-based Impressions (000)           105,658          8,551
Sponsored Link Impressions (000)          1,806          5,447

Source: Nielsen Online

Online Population is Politically Engaged

Among active Web users over the age of 18, 89 percent are registered to vote, according to Nielsen Online's @Plan (see Table 2). The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 72 percent of all voting-age citizens were registered to vote in the 2004 presidential election. Registered voters who are Internet users are fairly evenly divided between the two major political parties, with 36 percent Republicans and 35 percent Democrats. Seventeen percent reported being registered Independents with the balance registered as "other" or "not disclosing an affiliation" (see Table 3).

"The fact that so many Web users are registered to vote suggests that online campaign efforts will drive results at the polls," said Gibs. "Campaigns are no longer dabbling online -- we expect a candidate's Web presence to be an integral part of both campaigns."

Table 2: Voter Registration among U.S. Adults Online

Voter Registration      Composition Percent
------------------      -------------------
Registered to Vote              89
Not Registered to Vote           8
Did not respond                  3

Source: Nielsen Online

Table 3: Party Affiliation among U.S. Adults Online who are Registered Voters

Party Affiliation               Composition Percent
-----------------               -------------------
Registered Republican                   36
Registered Democrat                     35
Registered Independent                  17
Other/did not disclose party            12

Source: Nielsen Online

Online Buzz: Blogs vs. Boards

With the official race to the White House underway, political discussions online are on the rise. Obama's buzz volume on blogs, with mentions in 0.75 percent of consumer discussions during June 2008, was nearly double that of McCain's at 0.39 percent. Interestingly, a larger volume of discussion around Barack Obama (0.89 percent) takes place on message boards and forums where, compared to blogs, consumers experience a greater sense of virtual community. Consumer discussion around McCain is more common on blogs.

Table 4: Buzz Volume on Blogs and Boards as a Percent of Discussion, June 2008

Candidate                       Barack Obama    John McCain
---------                       ------------    -----------
Percent of Discussion - Blogs        0.75           0.39
Percent of Discussion - Boards       0.89           0.34

Source: Nielsen Online

Top Blogs

Among the nearly 80 million blogs tracked by Nielsen Online's BuzzMetrics service, the following are the blogs that mention Senators John McCain and Barack Obama during June 2008, ranked by volume of messages mentioning the candidate.

Table 5: Top Blogs Mentioning John McCain, Ranked by Number of Messages, June 2008

Top Blogs                                             URL
---------                                             ---
The Huffington Post Full Blog Feed         
Think Progress              
Crooks and Liars            
News Hounds                 
FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire  

Source: Nielsen Online

Table 6: Top Blogs Mentioning Barack Obama, Ranked by Number of Messages, June 2008

Top Blogs                                             URL
---------                                             ---
The Huffington Post Full Blog Feed           
Taegan Goddard's Political Wire
Crooks and Liars            
News Hounds                 
FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Think Progress              

Source: Nielsen Online

About Nielsen Online:

Nielsen Online, a service of The Nielsen Company, delivers comprehensive, independent measurement and analysis of online audiences, advertising, video, consumer-generated media, word of mouth, commerce and consumer behavior, and includes products previously marketed under the Nielsen//NetRatings and Nielsen BuzzMetrics brands. With high quality, technology-driven products and services, Nielsen Online enables clients to make informed business decisions regarding their Internet, digital and marketing strategies. For more information, please visit

About The Nielsen Company:

The Nielsen Company is a global information and media company with leading market positions in marketing information (ACNielsen), media information (Nielsen Media Research), online intelligence (NetRatings and BuzzMetrics), mobile measurement, trade shows and business publications (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek). The privately held company is active in more than 100 countries, with headquarters in Haarlem, the Netherlands, and New York, USA. For more information, please visit,

Editor's Note: Please source all data to Nielsen Online.

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