November 5, 2008

Barack Obama Vs. John McCain Social Media and Search Engine Scorecard

Obama McCain Fight

Why Blogs & Other Social Media Matter. Quantifying The Dangers Of Not Cluing In. 29 Social Media & SEO Metrics.


Here’s what I’ll be showing you in this post:

Comparison chart of the data

Overview slides of the data

Analysis and opinion

Links to both campaign’s social media profile pages

Overall conclusions

Analysis of both candidate’s websites and understanding of the internet & social media

Why “getting” the net & social media is critical for future campaigns

My 10 slides have an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons license, so feel free to share and remix them, just give me credit and a link.

UPDATE: I added some charts below to better present the data.

Comparison chart of 29 measurements of Barack Obama’s & John McCain’s activities, followers and presence on popular social media sites , Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr & several search engines (data collected Nov 5, 08, excel charts above below nov 12) Analysis below the slides.

Social Media Website
Barack Obama
John McCain
%age Lead
Facebook Supporters*
Facebook Wall Posts*
Facebook Notes*
MySpace Friends*
MySpace Comments*
none listed
Twitter Followers*
Twitter Updates*
Friend Feed
Youtube Videos Posted*
Youtube Subscribers*
none 29,202
117,873 304
Youtube Friends*
none listed
Flickr Photostream*
No Profile
Flickr Contacts*
No Profile

Search Engine Results For “Barack Obama” & “John McCain”

Search Engine
Barack Obama
John McCain
% Lead
Google News
Google Image
Google Video
Google Blog

Internet Presence For Barack Obama’s & John McCain’s Official Websites

Internet Presence
Barack Obama
John McCain
% Lead
Google Pagerank
Pages in Google
Yahoo Links-Pages
Yahoo Links-Inlinks

* = The Candidates Sites on Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Barack Obama vs John McCain on Facebook 1 of 2


Barack Obama vs John McCain on MySpace

Barack Obama vs John McCain on Twitter

Barack Obama vs. John McCain on YouTube 1 of 2

Barack Obama vs. John McCain on YouTube 2 of 2

Barack Obama vs. John McCain on Flickr

Barack Obama vs. John McCain Google Video Search, Technorati Search, & Google Blog Search

Barack Obama vs. John McCain Google Search, Google News Search & Google Image Search

Barack Obama vs. John McCain Yahoo Links-Inlinks &-Pages in Google's Index

I got the idea for this as I was surfing the 2008 US Presidential candidates websites late Monday night, looking for ideas for online ADHD advocacy from my last post. As an Adult ADHD coach who has ADHD, I wanted examples to help raise awareness of Adult ADHD. I wondered how many pages Barack Obama’s website had in Google’s index vs John McCain’s. So I did a site search etc. to find out. Wow.

Nearly 6,000 % more pages on Barack Obama’s website than John McCain’s.

So being the curious type (a major ADHD strength), and a political junkie (I had the same major as Barack Obama, Political Science, concentration in International Relations) I examined the differences between the 2 candidates web presences via different categories of search engine results and checking out their presence and popularity on some of the many popular social media websites as of November 4, 2008. The chart above quantifying Barack Obama’s domination of John McCain in social media websites and search engines is the result.

Barack Obama vs. John McCain – Social Media Presence


3,032% more hits for Barack Obama than John McCain, Barack Obama’s Facebook page had nearly 4 times more followers and posts than John McCain’s page and had 1,335% more notes up. TechPresident reported Barack Obama‘s added 400,000 new friends on facebook in the last 2 weeks, a 20% surge.


Both Candidates pages were fairly well designed compared to the usual chaotic look some favour. Barack Obama had nearly 4 times the number of friends on MySpace as John McCain, and 269% more search results for his name. Strangely enough, I found 147K comments on Barack Obama’s MySpace page but none at all on John McCain’s. Not sure why he didn’t display any, which seems one of the main points of Myspace. Possibly the fear of too many negative ones?


Here we have a case of severe internet cluelessness on the part of the John McCain Campaign. Barack Obama cranked out 10 times more tweets than John McCain, had 2254% more followers, and 1,029% more search results. John McCain’s last tweet was October 24th! So clueless that he didn’t send a vote today tweet on election day!. Some power twitter users like Alltop Media mogul Guy Kawasaki have large numbers of follower, in Guy’s case 24,726 followers. Imagine having a few of those people on your list AND the fact that some of their followers will retweet and/or blog the message if they like it, and they have followers, etc, etc.

UPDATE: Thanks to Oliver and Faruk for pointing out I listed the wrong John McCain Twitter page, just corrected it. I mistakenly linked to a McCain fan page, who had nearly half the followers as the offical one but massively more tweets. Maybe John McCain should have outsourced his twittering to him:) Also updated, he has 29,202 YouTube subscribers.

Friend Feed

Barack Obama had 25% more mentions than John McCain.


Barack Obama had nearly twice as many search results for his name as John McCain, and more than 5 times as many videos posted. Barack Obama had 117k subscribers and 25k friends and strangely enough John McCain had no friends or subscribers Sorry, still has no friends but 29,202 subscribers, Obama beat him by 300% on this. Or at least none displayed. Wonder why? Maybe’s his campaign doesn’t know how to use Youtube or maybe they’re semi antisocial about social networking? Or there might be too many people posting negative videos and comments? Not sure.


The photo sharing site that was created here in Vancouver BC Canada, had nearly 5 times more search results for Barack Obama than John McCain. I found 50,000 photos on Barack Obama’s flickr page and 7,000 contacts, I could not find a profile of John McCain on Flickr.

Barack Obama’s and John McCains Official Social Media Sites

Barack Obama’s Facebook Site
Barack Obama’s Myspace Site
Barack Obama’s Twitter Site
Barack Obama’s Youtube Site
Barack Obama’s Flickr Photostream

John McCain’s Facebook Site
John McCain’s Myspace Site
John McCain’s Twitter Site
John McCain’s Youtube Site
John McCain has no Flickr Photostream

Search Engine Results for “Barack Obama” and “John McCain”

Google News, Images and Video

John McCain beats Barack Obama significantly in Google News though by 173%. There’s almost 3 times as many results for Barack Obama in Google images and 51% more hits in Google Video as there is for John McCain.

Blog Search Engines

Barack Obama has more search engine results than John McCain in both blog search engines, google and technorati and in in a site with 4,592,973 blogs where users create blogs for free and host them there. This blog uses WordPress, the free standalone version. Keep in mind that more search engine results or user generated social media does not always mean that the results are positive of the candidate, many are negative of both. The political blogosphere can be a brutal place. But as a politician, being ignored is the worst thing. Getting no attention won’t get you elected. Plus bloggers are often creating content and commenting in other social media sites beyond their individual blog. Bloggers will become even more important and courted in the future by political campaigns.

Internet Presence for Barack Obama’s and John McCains Official Websites

As previously mentioned, Barack Obama had nearly 6,000 percent more pages on his main website than John McCain did on his, 1,820,000 vs 30,700. Barack Obama has more and deeper links, more hits for his name in Google,

Overall Metrics

Of the 27 29 metrics I chose, Barack Obama absolutely crushed John McCain. Barack Obama led on 25 27 out of 27 29, John McCain led on only 1 (Google Blog Search) and the Candidates were tied on one (Google page rank). In some cases the John McCain campaign didn’t even bother to show up. The McCain campaign had no Youtube subscribers, Youtube friends, and Myspace comments, or at least none posted. Was that a result of campaign malpractice? Or not wanting to show the hostile reactions of users to his messages? Or something else? Republican minds should start asking some pointed questions, Democrats should be thankful.

Maybe they need to find a republican version of James Carville, head strategist for Bill Clinton’s winning presidential election who has ADHD. I remember reading somewhere that the #1 career for adults with ADHD was politics and #2 was sports (27% and 23% I think). We have understimulated brains (or are brains are processing so fast we burn up dopamine) so we do best in high stimulation, creative, challenging jobs. Many ADDers in high tech, marketing, advertising, entrepreneurs etc. In those areas, having ADHD can be a competitive edge. Factory floors are death for us. Boring repetitive paperwork is our kryptonite.

Choose Your Bias

Waxy‘s Andy Biao created an excellent Greasemonkey script that I use called Memeorandum Colors for the US political aggregator site that’s almost been my home page for the last few months, Memeorandum, the Techmeme of politics

Left-leaning blogs are blue and right-leaning blogs are red, with darker colors representing strong biases.

Check it out, it’s based on who the blogs link to, and don’t just view the blogs on your side of the political spectrum, view the rogue ones too:)


Overall Barack Obama’s campaign has

  • a larger, more comprehensive presence
  • more followers or subscribers on the social media websites
  • more interaction with those followers
  • much greater results in search engines

This is in spite of John McCain being a big political celebrity FAR longer than Barack Obama was. John McCain was first elected to congress in 1982, and even before McCain ran in 2008, other than George Bush, McCain was probably the best known, most interviewed, and most written about Republican politician. That’s why I laughed when I saw McCain’s celebrity ad about Obama, look at how many mention’s John McCain has in the Internet Movie Database, like Bill Clinton, he was jealous because he was no longer the biggest political celebrity in Washington.

Outside of Illinois, Barack Obama was largely unknown until he gave his famous keynote speech at the democratic convention in 2004. So 26 years of exposure vs 4 years and yet Obama still massively dominated the online landscape.

Candidates Websites

Obama’s website one of the best designed websites I’ve seen in 15 years online, far better designed then John McCain’s, plus Obama’s has more features, more option and more content and is far more sophisticated than John McCain’s. Senator Obama hired Blue State Digital to run his online campaign, here’s their case study on it.

Barack Obama’s Website simply crushes McCains in:

  • quantity
  • design
  • features
  • sophistication
  • participation
  • usability
  • Social media features

Take a few moments and look at both sites and you’ll see the huge gap. Obama even created an online rapid response team to counter the lies thrown at him, called fight the smears. Brilliant move, cheaper than responding with TV ads.

McCain’s social network page has only 3 suggested sites, Obama’s suggests 16.

John McCain’s Knowledge of the Internet

John McCain’s unfamiliarity with the internet is well known,

I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself

in fact the Obama campaign created an ad based on it. Knowing the tubes does matter. Check out the Design for Obama website, no similar site for the McCain campaign.

Barack Obama’s Knowledge of the Internet

Barack Obama is younger and more computer and web savy. Here’s one quote from Marc Andreessen, coauthor of Mosaic, founder of netscape, and co founder of roll your own social network Ning who had a 90 minute one on one with Obama, early in 2007.

In particular, the Senator was personally interested in the rise of social networking, Facebook, Youtube, and user-generated content, and casually but persistently grilled us on what we thought the next generation of social media would be and how social networking might affect politics — with no staff present, no prepared materials, no notes. He already knew a fair amount about the topic but was very curious to actually learn more. We also talked about a pretty wide range of other issues, including Silicon Valley and various political topics.

Politicans can always hire people to create their websites and do their online marketing, fundraising, organizing and voter outreach programs. But if they don’t “get the net” or don’t know what questions to ask, they’re at a severe disadvantage to those that do get it and do spend time on it.

Barack Obama won the presidency for many reasons, but one is that he really understood the force multiplier called the internet. He knew who the internet users are, understood their needs and wants, how and why they use it, and how to connect with those people, and get them involved so they do most of the building and content creation themselves.

Fear can be effective in politics, but it doesn’t create as much content as hope. Republicans like Sarah Palin and Rudy Guiliani mocked Barack Obama for being a community organizer. Barack Obama community organized on the net with devastating effects to the Republican campaign.

One reason Barack Obama won was because he open sourced his campaign especially the online aspect. McCain’s was command and control by multiple competing lobbyists.

Other politicians in the US, Canada, and other countries will either start learning more about the internet culture, blogging, other social media and getting involved the right ways (the wrong ways will cause a massive backlash) or risk getting their asses kicked in online fundraising, raising awareness, finding and engaging new volunteers, online and offline organization, and voter outreach by those who do understand and use the internet and social media. Plus they have to change their beliefs, attitudes, policies and operating procedures to appeal too younger, digitally connected people, technology by itself ain’t enough.

Social media consultants will be getting much busier.


67 Comments on “Barack Obama Vs. John McCain Social Media and Search Engine Scorecard

[…] Obama Vs. McCain Search and Social Media Showdown | Adult ADD Strengths strength on the web…. (tags: obama) […]

Janet Fouts
November 6, 2008 at

Obama VS McCain in Social Media…

olivier Blanchard
November 6, 2008 at

Great post!!!

Look at your twitter numbers again. McCain’s follower and update numbers don’t look right. 😉

[…] Great article on the one-sided battle for the social media audience can be found here […]

Faruk Ates
November 7, 2008 at

You have the wrong Twitter account for McCain; the correct and official one is

You should redo your stats as this correction kills 50% of McCains leads 🙂

Pete Quily
November 7, 2008 at

Thanks for pointing that out Oliver and Faruk, just corrected it. Only 25 tweets by the McCain team for the whole campaign, bet Robert Scoble could crank that many out in one day:)

[…] submit_url = “”; Pete Quily has put together a case study on the search and social results of the Barack Obama and John McCain […]

Faruk Ates
November 7, 2008 at

Hey Pete, your post still has a whole slew of conclusions and calculations based on the wrong McCain twitter account.

1) McCain only leads in Google News results, Obama led ALL other 25 checks
2) While you crossed out the numbers in the chart on his twitter, you still have McCain listed as the Lead even though it no longer adds up
3) The entire paragraph on Twitter in the Social Media Presence subsection no longer adds up either

I’m nitpicking here but the point is, McCain and his campaign just _didn’t get_ social networking or the Internet as a medium at all. Not one bit, nowhere. Google News reports on old-school newspapers more than anything, so it kind of makes ironic sense that McCain would win, there. Anywhere and everywhere else, it’s more progressive and modern-day, and Obama leads there. The significance of that should not be understated. (imo)

Pete Quily
November 7, 2008 at

Thanks Faruk, just fixed them.

Agreed, the McCain campaign was severely clueless about the web and social media. The reason I started this post was when I saw that Obama had nearly 6000% more content on his website. I knew the democrats understood the web and social media more than the republicans, but I was amazed by how wide the gap was.

That being said, there’s a very strong republican blogging presence out there, the McCain campaign just wasn’t smart enough to use them in other social media websites, or didn’t use them well enough.

Faruk Ates
November 7, 2008 at

I think you nailed it yourself Pete, when you said:

“But if they don’t “get the net” or don’t know what questions to ask, they’re at a severe disadvantage to those that do get it and do spend time on it.”

olivier Blanchard
November 7, 2008 at

Pete, aside from the little account snafus, you did a great job putting this together. Being able to show the connection between well-thought-out and executed SocMed strategies and public/customer engagement is key for those of us who work in the field.

Keep up the good work. 😉

[…] Pete Quily has put together a case study on the search and social results of the Barack Obama and John McCain online presence among Google, Google News, Image and Video Search, Technorati, WordPress and Yahoo along with subscriber numbers from Youtube, Flickr, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and Friend Feed. […]

Pete Quily
November 8, 2008 at

Thanks Oliver

November 8, 2008 at

Interesting stats, let me throw a few more relevant ones – based on our index of backlinks that is larged than Yahoo Site Explorer here is the info for respective sites:

22,190 referring domains

1,755,535 external backlinks

Here is blog related I think – 18,776 backlinks marked with nofollow.


53,731 referring domains (more than double!)

4,285,032 external backlinks (again more than double!)

154,999 nofollow marked backlinks – this is almost 10 times as many as McCain and probably is a final pointer that Obama was more popular/active online.


[…] естественно не оставался в стороне от этих выборов. Pete Quily провел масштабное исследование, сравнив объёму […]

Sanford Dickert
November 10, 2008 at

This is an excellent post on various metrics – and there are two great sources to also glean from ( and

Also, know that the team that understood the force multiplier was the combination between Obama’s Field Organizers and their New Media Team supported by Blue State Digital.

I have been drafting a post on a similar story here – and will be sending it out soon.

Pete Quily
November 10, 2008 at

Thanks for the sharp eye Colllin, thought I fixed it. Just did.

David Meerman Scott
November 10, 2008 at

Wow. Excellent analysis. Really proves the point. David

Pete Quily
November 10, 2008 at

Thanks Sanford.

Thanks David, great video you did on Lee Oden’s blog on publishing vs pushing

[…] One of the best blogs on the internet which provides elaborat figures as to how Social media made all the difference, I found is: […]

John Flynn
November 11, 2008 at

Great stuff. Thank you for posting!

November 11, 2008 at

@KGMB9 So I don’t know about comprehensive, but hey its a start. Obama vs. McCain in the social media realm. Enjoy!

November 12, 2008 at

Good post! Reading about the Obama team’s dominance of the internet social media and his broadband advocacy, I decided to plot broadband penetration against Obama vote % and Obama % – McCain %. I did this with state data. Some correlation seems likely and the outliers make sense. See my Word face-Off blog. Seems to me that for electoral purposes alone, he should make broadband a priority. Of course, he sees it as an integral part of our economic infrastructure, an area where we are running behind much of the developed world.

[…] Tom Schmitz predicts the 2008 Presidential election winner by analyzing both candidates’ websites, rankings, and SEO efforts. Pete Quily also compared the social media activity and search engine results of the two candidates. […]

[…] One of the best blogs on the internet which provides elaborat figures as to how Social media made all the difference, I found is: […]

Kimberly Winnington
November 15, 2008 at

Socail Media stats for John McCain vs. Barack Obama –

[…] civic election was so close the US Presidential election where I recently did a post called Barack Obama Vs. John McCain Social Media and Search Engine Scorecard, I decided to a similar post for the Vancouver civic election in my hometown. I examined the […]

November 29, 2008 at

Pete Quily has done the best quantitative comparison I’ve seen between the internet campaigns of Obama vs. McCain:

Yianni Garcia
December 2, 2008 at

This post was fascinating. As a social media marketing expert, a young Obama supporter and an incredibly curious ADHD guy, the level of your research hit home for me. I will be reposting this on my blog soon.

Thank You

December 17, 2008 at

@manuscrypts ha ha…here’s the link I was looking for, you might want to put an update on ur well written post –

[…] One of the best blogs on the internet which provides elaborat figures as to how Social media made all the difference, I found is: […]

Rank on Top, Inc.
January 2, 2009 at

Always great reading from you. Amazing article
hmm what it takes to have time for all the knowledge you give.

Lori Lum
February 9, 2009 at

@KGMB9 did you see the SM scorecard between McCain and Obama?

[…] Per gli amanti della statistica ripropongo alcuni numeri già pubblicati qui. […]

February 19, 2009 at

Thx for the post i am doing my dissertation on Obama very helpfull

[…] staffer said “what’s a blogger?” Wow. Not impressed. Maybe she should read this Obama McCain social media scorecard post or this Vancouver civic election social media scorecard post I did to see why social media is […]

Beau Mueller
April 4, 2009 at

[…] followers, more mentions,  more engagement and more activity by far. Check out this fascinating, Barack Obama vs. John McCain Social Media & Search Engine Scorecard.  To anyone starting an awareness campaign: study and emulate what the Obama campaign did with […]

Internet. « Media Mix
April 8, 2009 at

[…] more about Obama’s marketing successes here, here […]

April 20, 2009 at

RT @petequily: @operationred Big factor. See my Obama vs McCain social media scorecard w/ 29 social media & SEO metrics

Pete Quily
April 20, 2009 at

@Miss604 only if done incompetently. Obama used soc med to get people to his website, get engaged take action give $

Pete Quily
April 21, 2009 at

NDP might also look at my Obama vs McCain social media scorecard post facebook section #bcelection

Gillian Shaw
April 21, 2009 at

RT@petequily @NDP might also look at my Obama vs McCain social media scorecard post facebook section

Tina Kells
April 21, 2009 at

RT @gillianshaw: RT@petequily @NDP might also look at my Obama vs McCain social media scorecard post facebook section

Pete Quily
April 22, 2009 at

@gillianshaw example John McCain who stopped tweeting a week before the US elections, no comments on his myspace pg etc

Karen D McCall
May 18, 2009 at

Why tweet? Here u go. Barack Obama Vs. John McCain Social Media and Search Engine Scorecard

July 9, 2009 at

Hhhm very interesting post with stats. I have to write something on Social Media War and Politics, this will help me lots.

Liz Ditz
September 16, 2009 at

Congrats to @petequily, whose Obama vs McCain social media scorecard will be included in a MBA case study

[…] media world by creating accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but he also has a much larger following than McCain.  At midnight right after election day, Obama had nearly 506,000 followers on […]

[…] Barack Obama and John McCain – Social Media and search engine scorecard (Link) Courtesy Brain Solis for his tweet which gives the […]

[…] no definitive proof, but the facts remain that as far as engaging with social media was concerned, Obama gave John McCain an absolute spanking. British parties are quickly realising that a stranglehold on the social media space could be […]

[…] out this chart I found from Pete Quily’s blog: it is an analysis of Barack Obama and John McCain’s campaign communication activities. What […]

Rafael Burity
April 7, 2010 at

Barack Obama Vs. John McCain Social Media and Search Engine Scorecard

Hier Artikel
April 21, 2010 at

Thanks for taking the opportunity to talk about “Barack Obama Vs. John McCain Social Media and Search Engine Scorecard | Adult ADD Strengths”, I benefit from learning about this subject. If possible, as you gain data, please update this blog with new information. Thanks, Hier

April 23, 2010 at

I have been reading a lot on here the topic Barack Obama Vs. John McCain Social Media and Search Engine Scorecard | Adult ADD Strengths inspired me, i have picked up some great ideas. Thanks and i hope to see more soon.

May 1, 2010 at

Thanks for the information, i posted your blog to my facebook group in the category `Barack Obama Vs. John McCain Social Media and Search Engine Scorecard | Adult ADD Strengths`. Regards, Katy

[…] 4,911 and 117,873 YouTube subscribers as opposed to McCain’s 2,902. To sum it up, he absolutely destroyed McCain on every major social media platform, and maybe, just maybe, that’s what gave him the edge in the […]

Alexia Berater
October 7, 2010 at

I just want to say thanks for this interesting thread about Barack Obama Vs. John McCain Social Media and Search Engine Scorecard | Adult ADD Strengths! Regards, Alexia Berater

[…] I was also helped by Vancouver’s Pete Quily, an adult ADHD coach who blogs about political issues and is the author of one of the most comprehensive social-media measures of the Obama-McCain contest. […]

Courtney Leichtman
December 29, 2010 at

Many thanks regarding the awesome article. I am going to keep an observation about your own site, i already added it to own list 🙂

[…] media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace were far greater than his competitor, McCain. McCain’s outdated style simply could not keep up with the ground-breaking force of Obama’s viral campaign. […]

Hoang Anh Researcher » Blog Archive » The Top 10 Best Social Media Marketing Campaigns Of All Time
December 21, 2011 at

[…] McCain’s 4,911 and 117,873 YouTube subscribers as opposed to McCain’s 2,902. To sum it up, he absolutely destroyed McCain on every major social media platform, and maybe – just maybe – that’s what gave him the edge in the […]

[…] McCain’s 4,911 and 117,873 YouTube subscribers as opposed to McCain’s 2,902. To sum it up, he absolutely destroyed McCain on every major social media platform, and maybe – just maybe – that’s what gave him the edge in the […]

[…] Charts via Pete Quily: Link […]

[…] dominated his fellow running mates before he became president.  In twitter alone, he had more than 11 times the followers of McCain […]

[…] McCain’s 4,911 and 117,873 YouTube subscribers as opposed to McCain’s 2,902. To sum it up, he absolutely destroyed McCain on every major social media platform, and maybe – just maybe – that’s what gave him the edge in the […]

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