Web Traffic Increases for Some Candidates after State Fair Apperances
DES MOINES, Iowa — It was the busiest weekend in the caucus campaign season yet, as nearly two-dozen candidates swarmed through Iowa for the state fair, candidate forums and other events, totaling in over 134 events in four days.
The fair presented itself as a key opportunity for candidates to have potential breakout moments, but the question is whether or not that valuable attention from voters will lead to more votes on caucus night.
Vote Smart, a national non-profit organization based in Des Moines, said it saw an uptick in website traffic during the fair. The site was designed as a “one-stop-shop” for voters where they can look up information about politicians and candidates. The site contains basic biographical information, as well as voting history (if applicable), public statements, funding and more.
Its national director, Walker McKusick, said they cannot attribute the causation of seeing more clicks on certain candidates as a direct result of their performance at the fair.
“Just because a candidate is more viewed on our website, it doesn’t mean that there’s more support for them,” McKusick said. “Eyeballs on votesmart.org don’t equate to likes, for instance.”
Many of the candidates attracted crowds of the hundreds at the fair, McKusick pointed out that the same concept can be applied.
“I know at there fair there were crowds for really a lot of different candidates there. You can’t necessarily say that the candidate that had the larger crowd is going to be the one that’s going to win any caucus or any primary,” he said.
He said Vote Smart saw a climb in traffic for its candidate pages on former Joe Biden, Corey Booker and Kamala Harris on the days they spoke at the fair, but reiterated that’s merely a correlation. McKusick also said the website typically sees the most clicks under the biography and voting record categories, followed by funding.
However, McKusick said the extra clicks before and after big events or “viral moments,” could be attributed to voters’ research habits.
“Citizenship is hard. It is hard to be constantly monitoring your representatives, the people that want to represent you,” he said. “It’s a crucial task but it’s one we tend to gravitate toward more when we care or our interest is caught.”
Although polling numbers and “viral moments” can be frequent talking points, it’s at the voting polls when the world will learn which candidate garnered the most support.
“Ultimately I don’t think any one data point will tell you who is going to win or who you shuld even support,” McKusick said. “We know we have the power at the ballot box to make any decision we want, it should just be an informed one.”