Internet Polling Fails in N.H.

The pundits and pollsters were wrong. Again. So, again, was the Internet vote.

After predicting a win for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses last week, Sen. Barack Obama won easily. In the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary, Obama was anointed the leader going into the vote thanks in part to Internet polling, but it was Clinton who came up with the victory, beating Obama and his social networking-centric campaign, 39 percent to 36 percent.

More critically for Obama, his wide lead in most Internet metrics didn’t translate into the support he enjoyed Jan. 4 in the Iowa caucuses.

It was in Iowa Jan. 4 that Obama’s work through the Internet, including through social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, paid dividends. Before the caucuses, Obama was the leader in a number of online measurements, including the most support on those social networking sites. His victory was the first one for a candidate leading in Internet metrics, and he won the majority of votes cast by young voters, first-time voters and women under 30.

Obama’s victory in Iowa, given his campaign’s work on the Web, raised the question of whether online support could translate into offline votes. It appeared so in Iowa, but it was a different story in New Hampshire.

Going into the primary—even as voting got under way—polls had Obama running away from Clinton by 10 percentage points or more. However, that never materialized, as Clinton grabbed the early lead and kept it throughout the night.

Clinton also benefited from a lower young voter turnout in New Hampshire than in last week’s Iowa caucuses, where Obama rode to victory on the strength of young voters, many of them organized and energized through Facebook and MySpace.

Whatever spin Obama got off the Internet in Iowa wasn’t working as well in New Hampshire. In a blog posted late in the morning Jan. 8, TechPresident’s Joshua Levy noted that Hitwise and Compete, which track Web site visits, showed that most of New Hampshire’s Democratic voters were going to Obama’s site, and cited a report that showed that coming out of Iowa, Obama had more “online buzz” than Clinton.

Page 2: How the GOP Fared

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