Ron Paul has no practical chance of winning the Republican nomination for president, but his sustained Web caché is remarkable. Last time we checked in with Paul’s Internet popularity, he was (and still is) the top Republican candidate in Personal Democracy Forum’s TechPresident channel, which measures stuff like MySpace, Facebook and YouTube popularity.
Today, another set of metrics from Web analytics firm Compete, whose “Candidate FaceTime” index measures the amount of time voters spend on candidates’ Web sites, plus their related profiles on major social networks, Flickr, and New York’s Meetup.com.
In November, Compete says voters spent 252,000 hours looking at Ron Paul’s pages, up 50% month-over-month and almost twice as much attention as his next rival, up-and-comer Mike Huckabee. Paul commanded 53% of the total “FaceTime” spent on Republican candidates, and 87% of the attention to all candidates from both parties on Meetup.com.
The closest “FaceTime” Democrat, meanwhile, was Barack Obama: voters spent about 91,000 hours looking him up online in November.
So, what gives? In our opinion, it’s mostly demographics: Paul is controversial, outspoken, and amusing, and those sorts of people do well on the Web, politicians or not. He may lack mainstream, commercial campaign backers, but his type of grassroots cause has always flourished on the Web — and we don’t see that stopping any time soon.
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