Can the Web predict the next president?

Analysis of Web traffic and search patterns shows Obama's site more popular than McCain's

IT professionals have historically monitored network traffic patterns to better understand network usage, to expose security events, and to generally promote overall network health. Traffic analysis can likewise be applied to the Web to understand a wide range of behavior patters ranging from social media networks to suggestion systems in e-commerce to even the current hot topic: the presidential race.

IT professionals have historically monitored network traffic patterns to better understand network usage, to expose security events, and to generally promote overall network health. Traffic analysis can likewise be applied to the Web to understand a wide range of behavior patterns ranging from social media networks to suggestion systems in e-commerce to even the current hot topic: the presidential race.

What we found in our analysis of both rudimentary (such as tracking campaign site visits and domain registration tallies) and more complex traffic-tracking mechanisms (such as search tallies and online trading trends) applied across all other Internet segments, is that online traffic patterns are leaning – not unlike traditional polling data -- in the direction of Sen. Barack Obama. (See a slideshow explaining eight ways technology has shaped the elections.)

To assess the validity of how traffic-analysis techniques could provide any insight into the election, we first examined the most basic measurements available: campaign site visits and domain registration and moved to more content-focused metrics such as blog mentions and social network links.

All the data discussed in this article is provided by live URLs so readers can view the content themselves to tie into the most up-to-date information. Our intent is not to judge either the McCain or Obama campaigns or the candidates themselves, but rather to examine how the election is shaping up online and delve into whether the data provides any insight into the eventual outcome.

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