January 2016 didn’t just mark the start of a new year – it marked the official start of an election year. As the election draws closer, it’s imperative that Americans brush up on their knowledge about the presidential hopefuls. Jumpshot decided to analyze the searching and browsing behaviors of visitors to candidates’ websites for the month of January to see if referral traffic from various outlets mirrors poll results – just as we did for October, November and December of 2015.
In months past, social referral traffic vastly trumped referral traffic from news websites. While social traffic still reigned supreme in January, many traditional news outlets picked up steam – with news site referrals increasing by an average of 29 percent since December. The news sites that saw the largest referral traffic increases were the left-leaning CNN (57 percent increase from last month) the more conservative FOX News (46 percent increase from last month) and the Washington Post (46 percent increase from last month). These increased click-through rates indicate that people are turning to the expected news outlets to get the scoop on candidates from both parties. This finding falls in line with our prediction that as the race to the White House accelerates, more and more people will turn to reputable news sources to help them make informed voting decisions.
Despite the gains in news referrals, social channels continue to drive the most visitors to candidate websites, increasing their amount of referred visitors by 37 percent on average since December. The top three social platforms for referrals are Twitter, YouTube and Reddit. For the third month straight , Twitter takes the top spot when it comes to driving referrals (with 27 percent of the total referrals to candidate websites). However, the amount of visitors it referred increased by only 6 percent from December, which pales in comparison to Reddit’s and YouTube’s growth rates (88 percent and 57 percent, respectively).
Reddit’s quickly expanding role in referring visitors to candidate websites is mostly attributed to Bernie Sanders, who continues to dominate this social platform. He captured 75 percent of the site’s overall referrals to candidate websites in January. Why do Redditors feel the Bern? Reddit is largely composed of millennials, who are largely known to have an affinity for Sanders’ liberal policies, like reducing the cost of higher education and decreasing student debt.
We then decided to break down the referral traffic by party to further investigate social referral trends and how they reflect the predictive polls. For the first time since we started doing our presidential analyses, we found that Twitter skewed red, with 59 percent of referrals going to Republican candidates’ sites. This month Ted Cruz received 1/8 of Twitter referrals, most likely due to public interest during the Iowa Caucus, which he ended up winning. Cruz’s overall referral traffic In January increased by 17 percent from the previous month, which is a larger month-over-month increase than any of the other candidates.
Though Hillary Clinton took the lead in the Democratic Iowa Caucus, Jumpshot’s state-specific referral data predicted Bernie Sanders’ win in the New Hampshire primaries, and now suggests that Sanders will score big during the upcoming primaries in South Carolina. Our infographic depicts his month-over-month increase in unique referrals.
Bottom line: Data-driven insights tend to mirror real life outcomes. Collecting and analyzing social and search trends allow us to make educated guesses about who will win the race to the White House, based on the public’s interests. We will continue to share our data-driven presidential insights with you, so stay tuned!