With online interest in the upcoming election at an all-time high, Barack Obama is waging a far more effective Internet campaign than John McCain, but the Republican may be catching up, according to public relations expert Michael Levine.
To date, many of the Obama campaign’s three million individual contributors have donated over the Internet. That helped the Democratic presidential hopeful raise a whopping $150 million in September alone for a total take this campaign season of $600 million.
Obama’s haul dwarfs the $84 million McCain received when he opted into federal financing to fuel his campaign through election day. But the online advantage is about more than just dollars, Levine notes.
“This is the first election in which campaigns and citizens are making extensive use of the web for organizing, fund-raising, networking and announcing news,” Levine, president of Levine Communications in Los Angeles, tells Newsmax.
While McCain’s online efforts may have lagged Obama’s, they have improved in recent weeks, Levine says.
“Since the Republican convention, the official McCain website, www.johnmccain.com, has substantially improved its customization and socialization tools to encourage online networking with fellow supporters and offline grassroots activity,” he says.
But Obama still has the online edge. “His web site, www.barackobama.com, makes it much easier for supporters to take action,” Levine says.
“They can receive up-to-the-minute campaign news, pick up talking points, download campaign posters and flyers, make computer-assisted phone calls to undecided voters in swing states and map out door-to-door canvassing operations in their area.”
McCain’s improvements have yet to put a serious dent in Obama’s superiority in the Internet networking, Levine maintains.
“Obama has more MySpace friends by a nearly six-to-one margin, more Facebook supporters by more than a five-to-one margin, twice as many videos posted to his official YouTube channel and has more YouTube channel subscribers, by an 11-to-one margin.”
Obama also has an advantage in terms of providing news to web surfers, Levine says. “His site links to mainstream media news stories about his candidacy more frequently than does McCain’s,” he explains.
The Arizona senator’s site tends to bypass the mainstream media and link to its “news” section, which contains campaign-generated press releases. To be sure, McCain has improved in that regard recently, with his site linking to news stories about his running mate Sarah Palin, Levine points out.
McCain’s website gives more prominence to Palin in general than Obama’s does to his vice presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Obama’s web site carries far more text than McCain’s, thanks to the extensive archive of Obama’s speeches, Levine notes. In August alone, Obama’s web site produced 50,676 words 21,021 on McCain’s, he says.
One interesting twist: Obama’s whole campaign has been based on the idea of change. But the word is now more visible on McCain’s web site than Obama’s. “Change” is among the 20 most frequently used words on the McCain pages, Levine points out.
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