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

Barack Obama vs John McCain US Presidential Race

Thanks to Barack Obama and to David Silver

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.

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.

Barack Obama vs John McCain on Facebook 1 of 2 2008 US Presidential election










Barack Obama vs John McCain on Facebook 2 of 2 US Presidential election 2008











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?

Barack Obama vs John McCain on MySpace US Presidential election 2008



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 followers, 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.

Barack Obama vs John McCain on Twitter US Presidential election 2008











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 official 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.

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.

Barack Obama vs. John McCain on YouTube 1 of 2 US Presidential election 2008 social media











Barack Obama vs. John McCain on YouTube 2 of 2 US Presidential election 2008 social media












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 vs. John McCain on Flickr US Presidential election 2008 on social media











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, Google 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.

Barack Obama vs. John McCain Google Search, Google News & Google Image search US Presidential election 2008 on social media











Blog Search Engines

Barack Obama has more search engine results than John McCain in both blog search engines, googletechnorati and 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.


Barack Obama vs. John McCain Google Video Search, Technorati Search, & Google Blog Search US Presidential election 2008 on social media











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.

Barack Obama vs. John McCain Yahoo Links-Inlinks &-Pages in Google's Index US Presidential election 2008 on social media












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.

68 thoughts on “Barack Obama Vs. John McCain Social Media and Search Engine Scorecard”

  1. 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:)

  2. 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)

  3. 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.

  4. 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.”

  5. 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. 😉

  6. 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.


  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

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

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