*If online engagement metrics are any indication!

Election Day 2012 is today– 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 today. 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 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?

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. You can quote me on that!

This post originated on the WordStream Blog. WordStream provides keyword tools for pay-per click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) aiding in everything from keyword discovery to keyword grouping and organization.