If the presidential election were determined by how fast the candidates' Web pages download, President Obama would lose to any of his Republican challengers, according to a review by the president of Web optimizing vendor Strangeloop.
Newt Gingrich would come out on top with a download speed of 7.7 seconds, burying Obama, whose main campaign page takes 13.6 seconds to arrive, says Joshua Bixby, president of Strangeloop.
Republican's Mitt Romney (9.3 seconds), Rick Santorum (10.7 seconds) and Ron Paul (13.5 seconds) fall in between, Bixby says.
That's for full personal computer builds. All the candidates fail voters and themselves when it comes to adapting their sites to mobile devices, particularly Android phones over a 3G network. Romney is the only candidate who serves a mobile-customized version of his site and it scored the best download time to an Android phone at 21 seconds.
The sites of Gingrich, Santorum and Paul, which were not customized for the small screen, took minutes to download, Bixby says. The way their full pages display on mobile phones, their pleas for contributions are cut off, he says. Romney's weren't cut off but with an Android phone the page kept displaying an error message that there was a problem with the security certificate, "not something a potential donor wants to read right before handing over their credit card information," Bixby says.
Bixby used an iPhone over Wi-Fi to access the sites and all downloaded between 10 and 20 seconds, he says.
Candidates should pay attention to the demographics of device users and their access methods if they want to cater to their base, he says. Many mobile-only users are older and poorer, he says, citing a Pew Research report. Android users also tend to be poorer and more likely to access via 3G networks than iPhone users, he says.
Just 28% of mobile users use iPhones, so customizing sites for that device snubs the majority who use something else, Bixby says.