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A November 2007 poll has Mike Huckabee leading Republicans in Iowa, putting fear into his big-name presidential opponents. That mirrors his popularity on the Web, where he has the right to crow.
Since Nov. 17, Ron Paul has been the only candidate to get more Internet traffic than the former governor of Arkansas. Huckabee's site beat out front-runners Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani.
Huckabee gets credit for choosing his words carefully. By saying his site gets more hits than "virtually" any other candidate, he keeps it just vague enough to avoid running into trouble.
Huckabee's online fame has been growing slowly for weeks.
In September, less than 10 percent of Web users who went to presidential campaign sites checked out Huckabee's site, according to Hitwise.com, which uses a sample of 10-million Web users to track traffic to all types of Internet sites.
By mid November, visits to Huckabee's site outnumbered every other candidate but Paul, according to Hitwise. On Nov. 24, nearly 19 percent of Web visitors who went to campaign sites checked out Huckabee's site. That same week, about 26 percent visited Paul's site. Obama was third, with 10 percent.
MikeHuckabee.com features an online store, where supporters can buy T-shirts and baby bibs that read "I Like Mike." There's also a Webisode where actor Chuck Norris discusses why he endorsed Huckabee.
So, why the new popularity?
"Mike Huckabee is now being talked about as a possible winner of Iowa and people are now interested in him," said Joshua Levy, associate editor of www.techpresident.com. "The Republicans aren't that satisfied with their slate. Rudy Giuliani is a really unorthodox candidate for that base. Mitt Romney isn't really inspiring. So you got this guy, Mike Huckabee, who has been inching towards the top for a while. He is getting a lot of buzz in general."
Huckabee's success on the Web could also be attributed to voter curiosity. For the most part, Giuliani, Clinton and Obama are well-known figures whose stories have been paraded in the press for years. No need to Google them. Huckabee is not as familiar, so interested voters are going to check out his site.
"It's been a long year," said Julie Barko Germany, deputy director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet at George Washington University. "So fresh faces like Ron Paul and Huckabee are starting to get a little more attention."
While www.mikehuckabee.com might never share the same celebrity as www.myspace.com or www.thefacebook.com, for now Huckabee has the right to brag about his Web popularity. Given his use of the word "virtually," we give him a ruling of True.
Des Moines Register, "Huckabee new GOP leader in Iowa Poll"
Fox Television interview transcript, Congressional Quarterly, "Mike Huckabee Interview with Fox Television," Nov. 14, 2007
Interview with Joshua Levy, associate editor, www.techpresident.com, Nov. 19, 2007
Interview with Julie Barko Germany, deputy director, Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, George Washington University, Nov. 19, 2007
Interview with Matt Tatham, spokesman, www.hitwise.com, Nov. 19, 2007
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