And, the Winner is…social media and CNN

With recent memories of Presidential elections past replaying in the minds of many U.S. voters (i.e., think 2000 Presidential Election, Florida and those pesky “chads”), it’s really comforting to go to bed (depending on when you went to bed) or wake up (for those – likely East coasters – who went to bed before the election was called) and know who the President-elect is, or more specifically the re-elected, second-term President Barack Obama. Regardless of political affiliation, for the smartphone user, Election Day and the prior two Tuesdays and two weeks preceding it proved that niche political and Election-specific applications remained just that – niche. Both Android and iOS smartphone and tablet users instead continued to rely heavily on social media and mainstream news sources, such as stand-out CNN, to keep abreast of, and express their opinions on, all things election-related.

On the social media front, Facebook engagement on Election Day compared to the Tuesdays prior (October 23 and 30) showed an uptick across most platforms, with iPhone and iPad users more highly engaged than their Android counterparts. There was a greater differential on the tablet side – with a nearly twenty percentage point reach differential between iPad and Android tablet use on Election Day. Interestingly, twitter use among iPhone and iPad users also showed a slight uptick on Election Day (compared to the Tuesday prior), whereas Android user engagement was actually down on Election Day. 

Following general trending in the news category, news website use outpaced news app use for the two Tuesdays prior and on Election night – with 22 percent of the users accessing websites versus 15 percent for news apps. And, in looking at the top five websites accessed on Election Day, CNN was the clear winner overall. CNN showed the most significant jump in smartphone and tablet users accessing the website, nearly doubling in reach (number of users accessing) compared to the Tuesday prior to Election Day. Notwithstanding, the vast majority of the top ten websites also saw a significant bump in traffic on Election Day, with Huffington Post, Politico, and CBS News all showing substantial growth. 

There was less excitement in the niche political content, which remained, well, niche. Among the most popular of these websites accessed was BarackObama.Com, which was accessed by 8 percent of Android tablet users and 3 percent of smartphone users during the Week leading up to Election Day (October 31-November 6); comparatively Mitt Romney’s website presence (MittRomney.Com) saw limited traffic, with less than one percent of Android tablet and smartphone users accessing the site.

Among the most popular niche apps during the Week leading up to Election Day (October 31-November 6), but still used by less than one percent of mobile users, included Obama for America, New York Times’ Election 2012, and an election polling app, Election Polls 2012.

It is telling that President Barack Obama’s mobile properties fared better than Mitt Romney’s. Political analysis post-election points to the Obama campaign’s superior ground-game as being crucial in clinching the election for the President, particularly in hotly contested battleground states, including Ohio. And, part of that ground game included a significant mobile and social push to get out the Vote.