In the real world, politics are complicated. On the Web, things seem reassuringly simple, though. Take the Democratic campaign: Polls show Barack Obama ahead, but he doesn't have the necessary delegates to force Hillary Clinton to drop out. Web-traffic analyst Matt Pace of Compete.com believes he has the internet traffic stats to prove that Obama is a shoo-in.
- number of readers on their Wikipedia pages (Obama 4:1 over Hillary)
- website visitors (Obama by 2:1)
- share of Web visitors in Pennsylvania, where the next big primary is being held (Obama by 2:1)
- hours spent on each candidates YouTube channel (Obama by 10:1)
Based on those numbers, Matt gives the race in favor of Obama:
Given the trends noted above, Obama's increasing momentum, and his dominance across almost every measurable statistic, he could pull out a victory next week in Pennsylvania. This of course would be a disaster for Clinton who has pinned all hope on getting a late boost from the final primaries in order to persuade the party's Super Delegates to hand her the nomination.
Which is precious, and specious. All it proves is what polls already tell us: The wealthy liberals who support Obama are more likely to be online and use sites like Wikipedia and YouTube than Clinton's working-class base. (And searches for Obama on an online encyclopedia could simply indicate curiosity about a political unknown; Clinton, one would think, requires no introductions.)
Had Pace run the numbers last summer, he'd likely have told us that Ron Paul was set to win the presidency. And let's not forget what happened to the last presidential candidate who had a revolutionary Internet presence, raised millions online and inspired lots of young people to get out and vote. His name was Howard Dean, and his campaign ended with a scream.