Political blogs real winner in US election

WASHINGTON - Political blogs have received a major traffic boost from the US presidential election with the Huffington Post and Real Clear Politics witnessing the number of users visiting their sites shoot up nearly 500% as the 2008 election nears its climax.

Results from comScore's latest study show visits to political blogs are surging and the Obama-friendly site Huffington Post, which attracted 4.5m visitors in September, is a big winner with traffic up 472% on a year ago. Real Clear Politics, with drew 1.1m visitors is September, an increase of 489%.

Capitol Hill blog Politico drew 2.4m users in September, up 344% from last year and right-of-centre blog the Drudge Report saw 2.1m visitors, up 70%.

Andrew Lipsman, senior analyst at comScore, said: "With each new election cycle, the internet is playing a more significant role in shaping the stories of the day that are so crucial in formulating public opinion on issues and candidates.

"That most mainstream news outlets now have their own political blogs is a testament to their increasing reach and influence. However, several independent blogs unaffiliated with larger media outlets paved the way in this space and are really beginning to enter the mainstream public consciousness with this current election cycle."

Some other notable web-traffic drivers include and Daily Kos, an increase of 381% with 987,000 viewers in September and News Busters, 732,000 viewers for a jump of 547%.

The good news is not exclusive to independent media either, CNN's online coverage of the recent presidential and vice presidential debates generated record statistics for the news-giant.

During the debates, traffic to the international edition of CNN.com experienced hikes of more than 100% with the third and fourth presidential debates helping to create the fourth and fifth highest traffic level days respectively in 2008 so far.

For the three presidential debate days and the single vice presidential debate day, CNN Digital was the number one most used site, with an average of 66.5m usage minutes.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has opened up a 12-point lead over Republican rival John McCain, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released today.

With less than two weeks before the November 4 election, Obama leads McCain 52% to 40% among likely voters.

Read Gordon's Republic post - Why blogging is far from dead.