The Web matters in politics.
Obama clinched both of his presidential terms in part for his administration's ability to leverage social media and modern Web practices that put him in touch with the people where it increasingly counts: online. To the fickle Internet user, a few precious seconds could mean the difference between accessing information that could solidify their vote for a given candidate or frustration that guides their search to a competing candidate's Web presence. Pundits can debate who emerged the winner of CNN's Republican debate on Sept. 16 until their faces are red. But on the Web, there was one clear winner, and his name was Donald Trump.
Researchers from performance management firm AppDynamics measured the page load time for each Republican debate participant's website on both a desktop computer and a mobile device with a 4G connection. Tests were conducted both before the debate was aired and after, to measure how the political websites handled the increased traffic. The numbers don't lie — Trump's website was the fastest by a wide margin, on both the desktop and mobile devices (2.9 seconds and 4.2 seconds, respectively).
Trump's website weighs in at about 1 MB, which accounts for the rapid load times. Some, like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, switched their more feature-rich websites to more lightweight versions during the debates in anticipation of increased traffic.
The substance of a given candidate's platform is but one component that might land him or her on the ballot next election. They call it a political race because the winner is often the one with the best engine, not the best ideas. A fast, lightweight website might well represent a racing team that understand the game well enough to win.
The graph below shows how each speaker's website performed on desktop and mobile, both before and after the debate.