Marketing Strategy

Who Will Win the Election Tomorrow? Obama by a Landslide*!

By Larry Kim November 05, 2012 Posted In: Marketing Strategy Comments: 17

presidential polling results, social media predictions, obama landslide victory
*If online engagement metrics are any indication!

Election Day 2012 is tomorrow – will President Barack Obama get another four years? Or will Republican challenger Mitt Romney take the win?

Political wonks may know that statistician Nate Silver has predicted a win for Obama based on election polls and public opinion polls. I was curious if the Internet presence of the two respective candidates pointed to the same outcome. So I ran some quick numbers to look at Obama and Romney’s spending on paid search advertising (political campaign ads on Google search and the Google Display Network), their website traffic, and their social media presence (including Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and YouTube subscribers).

Based on what I found, I predict that Obama will win by a landslide on Nov. 6, 2012. Obama is well in the lead in every category that I looked at. Romney does not have a sophisticated Internet marketing presence compared to Obama, suggesting that:

  • Romney has been getting less exposure in the crucial weeks leading up to Election Day
  • Obama has a more passionate voter base, at least in online communities

It’s possible that Romney has been making up the difference in other forms of campaign spending – by buying more TV spots, for example. But in the past, I’ve predicted election outcomes based on social media “polling” alone, and I think these numbers speak volumes. Now, I’m no Obama fan, but I’d put my money on him tomorrow at the polls.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Obama vs. Romney: Paid Search Advertising Spend

Barack Obama appears to be spending about $4.4k to $13.1k / day on Google Search. Mitt Romney appears to be spending about  $3.4k to $6.3k / day on Google Search. In other words, Obama is spending up to twice as much on Google search advertising as Romney. These are just estimates based on traffic and cost per click estimates, but even if the exact numbers are off, the difference is big. (I used the same method to estimate daily spending for both candidates.)

As for the Google Display Network, Barack Obama appears to be spending about $6.0k / day on Google Display Advertising (banner ads) while Mitt Romney appears to be spending about $2.3k / day on Google Display Advertising. So Obama is spending almost three times as much as Romney on Google Display. Display ads are terrific for increasing awareness and building your brand, both of which are key when it comes to rallying and growing your voter base, so Obama could be getting tons of leverage out of this advertising spend.

Presidential PPC Campaign Spending

Obama vs. Romney: Online Engagement Metrics

What about other online engagement metrics, like website traffic and social media following? Obama is kicking the pants off Romney in every category I looked at:

Obama vs. Romney Internet Presence

To summarize this data:

  • Barack Obama has almost three times as many Facebook fans as Mitt Romney (31 million to Romney’s 11 million).
  • Obama has had over three times as many website viewers in October 2012 as Romney, at 8.6 million viewers compared to 2.6 million for the Republican candidate.
  • Obama has more than 13 times as many Twitter followers as Romney, with nearly 22 million compared to Romney’s measly 1.6 million Twitter followers.
  • Obama has nine times as many YouTube subscribers and nine times as many YouTube video views.
  • The internet reach of Obama’s website is more than double that of Romney’s website.

Here’s an illustration of the respective reach of Obama’s website (barackobama.com) versus Romney’s website (mittromney.com). By reach, we mean the estimated percentage of global internet users who have visited a particular site.

Obama vs. Romney 2012

The red line represents Obama’s website reach. It’s significantly higher with more big spikes than Romney’s.

Obama-Related Search Queries More Likely to Be Personalized?

A recent Wall Street Journal article points out that Google "often customizes the results of people who have recently searched for 'Obama'—but not those who have recently searched for 'Romney.'"

Here's how it works: When a user searches for the name Obama, Google includes links about President Barack Obama in subsequent searches on terms such as "Iran," "Medicare" and "gay marriage." The altered results are labeled in gray type: "you recently searched for Obama." Testers searching for "Romney," however, didn't see customized links containing Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney's name in their subsequent search results.

This isn't based on human judgment or invertention but rather algorithms. In other words, it means that more people are looking for information about Obama's stance on Iran, Medicare and gay marriage than Romney's views on the same topics. Again, this could be construed as an indication that web users are more engaged with Obama.

In Summary: Who Will Win the 2012 Presidential Election Tomorrow?

This isn’t 1994. In this day and age, when everyone and their grandma is on Facebook and has an iPhone, Internet presence really matters. Romney’s relatively weak Internet presence and comparatively low spending on online marketing channels could be very bad news for the Republican party.

Based on the available Internet marketing data, I predict that Barack Obama will win by a landslide tomorrow. You can quote me on that!

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Comments

Monday November 05, 2012

Andrew Burnett (not verified) Said:

Surely this just means that there is more online activity around Obama than around Romney? 

Could be that Obama supporters are more prolific internet users… 

Monday November 05, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Polls are also leaning in Obama's favor, so online activity could correlate with actual voter sentiment.

Monday November 05, 2012

Chris Hornak (not verified) Said:

Great article Larry.  We put together some of this data ourselves at seovote2012.com. I think you'll enjoy it. I really like how you provided a little more insight using youtube views and alexa data. 

Monday November 05, 2012

Anonymous (not verified) Said:

NOTHING new! That is expected, youth is pro obama and youth uses internet a lot.

However youth does not vote as much as old people and old people are with the mormon guy for some reason.

Go OBAMA!

Monday November 05, 2012

David Veldt (not verified) Said:

I'd have to agree with the other commentors that this is a very incomplete view (which I'm sure you know). According to Google's Consumer Barometer, only 69% of people in the USA over the age of 40 (those more likely to be pro-Romney) even have internet access. In reality, "everyone and their Grandma" are not on Facebook or have an iPhone. Even if they did, that doesn't mean that they openly display their political affiliation with them. There's a lot of unknowns and additional factors at play here.

Monday November 05, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Actually, according to Pew, "95% of people with an income of $75,000 or more use cellphones and the Internet." Wouldn't those high-income invidivuals constitute a large portion of Romney's base?

Monday November 05, 2012

Brandon Dennis (not verified) Said:

Great link bait Larry, I hope it works well for you.

That said, I think the fundamental assumption behind this experiment, that online influence can predict a political victor, is fundamentally flawed. For example, Lady Gaga is far more popular than Obama, and exceeds him in every metric you examioned in this post. But if she ran for president, there is no way on earth she would win.

You fail to incorporate more psychological phenomina into the equasion. Obama, unlike any president before him with the possible exception of Clinton, is a celebrity. He's cool, slick and sexy. He inherently appeals to youth, many of whom can't vote. He is followed by many who "Think he's a good person" buit who also "don't think he's been a very good president". As a celebrity, he naturally gains far more viral expusire than boring old Romney. In short, just because he is more popular doesn't mean more people will vote for him.

Additionally, guaging spend, especially when it comes to Adwords, is a very poor metric to discover which candidate is making a greater influence. After all, as you well know Larry, it is not the spend that matters but the conversions. Obama's marketing team could be dumping money into online ad spending, but if those ads are poorly targeted, or if they are paying too much for them, they're a waste.

And Elisa, the Internet-savy and mobile-ready all live on the coasts--Seattle, San Francisco, New York. Salaries and income are also greater on the coasts. And, coincidentially, the coasts invariably vote Democrat. To put it plainly, rich people spend more time online, spend more money on gadgets, and vote Democrat.

It is no wonder then that a study of Internet influence shows favor towards Obama.

It's possible Obama will win, despite both Gallup and Rasmussen showing Romney ahead by 1% as of this comment. We'll find out the truth tomorrow, and I'll be sure to come back to say, 'told ya'.

Monday November 05, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Rich people vote Democrat? Not in Colorado. By the way, we're not on the coast and we have internet here...

Wednesday November 07, 2012

Brandon Dennis (not verified) Said:

Well, I can't say 'Told ya', but I can say that Romney got a better value from his Internet spending.

Monday November 05, 2012

Anonymous (not verified) Said:

Just a thought, Obama has actually been in office. Of course he has more Facebook fans he's the president, don't see how him having Facebook fans means winning the coming election.

Tuesday November 06, 2012

Gerson Va (not verified) Said:

USA Will give the second chance to Obama. I think that Rodney´s time will be on the next elections.

 

Tuesday November 06, 2012

Internet Marketing Consultant (not verified) Said:

Yes Obama is abla to win election of 2012 because he is very honrable and good person as well as he is able to control the activities of  other democratic parties.

Tuesday November 06, 2012

Christopher Nalty (not verified) Said:

I found this an interesting article, but I do want to raise issue concerning some points where I think you took your assumptions too far.

When extrapolating the numbers, it appears that you failed to take into account that Barrack Obama has a four year head start over Mitt Romney. Facebook fans, Twitter followers, YouTube Subscribers, and YouTube views are all a reflection of this. To be completely accurate, I think you would have to only consider additional traffic and followers above and beyond a certain baseline, say after the converntions are over.

The PPC spending is also interesting but to me, all this really tell us is that the Obama camp has a larger PPC budget. I've seen Obama's online ads in some very odd and unexpected places. Does this translate into more votes? My view is that it does not.

I do think the most telling data is what you've pulled from Alexa. At first glance it would appear that Obama is winning by a huge ammount. Here's what I would have liked to seen done differently:

  • I think the time period is too large. No need to pull in data from 2010 when it appears that MittRomney.com didn't even come online until March of 2011. Again, I would have included data only from the conventions forward.
  • I think that 'worldwide reach' is irrelevent. What would be more relevent would be data from within the United States only. 
  • I think some of the other statistice would also be interesting to see: what's the number of visitors, pageviews, pagerviews per user, etc.? 

Like I said, I found this very interesting, I just think you needed to be more percise and calculating with the way you read the data. I will be curious to see if your prediction holds true come Wednesday.

Tuesday November 06, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Hi, Christopher, thanks for your thoughts! While it's true that Obama has a "head start" in a sense, I think Larry is extrapolating that Romney would need to have made up some of that difference if he were to be able to close up the race.

By the way, here is what Larry wrote about using social media metrics as a polling measure the last time he did this to predict an election outcome:

First of all, consider that conventional polling is flawed – they go through the phone book, so they exclude anyone without a land line. This social media polling data also excludes people – namely, those who don't use social media or the web. The question is, who is the more "likely voter", someone with a land line or someone who uses Facebook? I have no idea. I do know this: one day, more people will use social media than land lines - maybe not today, but probably not too far off either.

The social media polling data could simply mean that Scott Brown supporters are more excited about their candidate than Martha Coakley supporters – and even the conventional polling data has picked up on that notion. Clearly underdogs have the most passionate fan base (think crazy RedSox fans pre-2004).

You can read more here.

Tuesday November 06, 2012

Ryan (not verified) Said:

It is absurd the amount of money that they are spending on this. They are both constantly on TV in the news and such that the amount of commercials that they are buying is just overkill.  I am sure that Google is loving every minute of it it though with that amount of money being spent.

Wednesday November 07, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Hey Larry, looks like you were right!! Obama even took a bunch of the swing states!

Friday November 09, 2012

Anonymous007 (not verified) Said:

rich people spend more time online, spend more money on gadgets, and vote Democrat Rich people don't vote dem. Upper middle class ("professionals") tend to votes dem, but uber rich vote (and buy) very repug. --------- natesilver's 'controversy' was discussed on the net, which might have influenced people's "mob" predictions (google) of the vote. I've also read that gambling sites have steadily leaned to Obama win since at least 2011.

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