_____ for President 2016

Oh how things have changed since 2012! Obama is…well, still President. Mitt Romney is back to being an ordinary businessman, give or take a few publicity stunts. Congress back in 2012 had a pathetic 15% approval rating. Now, they’re at a whopping 17.5% !!!

One thing hasn’t changed though. In the year before a presidential election, like, oh, I dunno, this year, politicians with familiarsounding names, governors of obscure states, and self-proclaimed ‘nonpoliticians‘ you’ve never heard of before throw their hats into the ring and begin their presidential campaigns. There are lots of ways to judge a candidate and their merits, but as an experiment in proxy, today, the Idiot Economist will use just one: their official campaign websites.

Because of their sheer numbers, I’ll look mostly at Republican websites, but will also include HillaryClinton.com for comparison. These rankings are the result of hours of tedious and focused analysis of website layout, content, and functionality, by which I mean I spent about five minutes looking at all of them.

Overall, you can see a lot of similar elements across campaign sites. Regardless of party affiliation, red buttons and calls to action are omnipresent. “America this” and “America that” labels everywhere. Some go out of their way to make donation as easy as possible!

Something very new this time around compared to 2012: every site is “responsive”, meaning that the page layout changes based on width of the browser window. This means you don’t get a teeny-tiny zoomed out version of MarcoRubio.com if you check it out on a smartphone.

An absence from this list worth noting is Jeb Bush. One reason his campaign team might not have set up a proper website yet could be that JebBushForPresident.com is already taken…by two gay Oregonian men using the site to promote LGTB discussion in America. You can’t make this stuff up.

Sites Ranked by Homepage Frequency of “America” (word, flag, map, etc.)

  1. Marco Rubio: 5 (excluding blog reel)
  2. Rand Paul: 2 (+1 for waving flag in background video)
  3. Ben Carson: 2 (+1 for being a Republican who quotes Reagan)
  4. Scott Walker: 2
  5. Rick Perry: 2
  6. Ted Cruz: 2
  7. Lindsey Graham: 2
  8. Rick Santorum: 1 (+1 for combining with “dream”)
  9. Hillary Clinton: 1
  10. Carly Fiorina: 0
  11. Mike Huckabee: 0

Fun Fact: Similar to Jeb Bush, another Republican candidate had a terrible domain name snafu. See – CarlyFiorina.org.

Most Unique Action Verbs + Adjectives visible above the Fold

  1. Ben Carson: 3 (heal, inspire, revive — +1 for campaign slogan)
  2. Hillary Clinton: 3 (starts, new, next)
  3. Rick Santorum: 2 (restore, hardworking)
  4. Marco Rubio: 2 (believe, American)
  5. Rick Perry: 2 (creating, begins)
  6. Ted Cruz: 2 (courageous, reigniting – yes it’s a real word)
  7. Carly Fiorina: 2 (new, real)
  8. Rand Paul: 1 (defeat, as in “defeat the Washington machine”)
  9. Mike Huckabee: 1 (higher, as in “higher ground”)
  10. Lindsey Graham: 1 (gets things done)
  11. Scott Walker: 0

Fun Fact: A Google search for “Chris Christie for President 2016 official website” returns TedCruz.org as the first (sponsored) result.

Best 404 Page

  1. Marco Rubio
  2. Hillary Clinton
  3. Rick Santorum

Fun Fact: Rick Perry’s campaign website is missing a favicon.

Best Swag / Merch

  1. Hillary Clinton (specifically, the everyday pantsuit tee)
  2. Rand Paul (specifically, Hillary’s wiped hard drive)
  3. There is no third place. The rest were terrible or nonexistent.

So what does all of this mean for the 2016 Presidential Election? Probably not much. But we now live in an age where the President tweets, Congress debates regulating the internet, and a candidate raises controversy and mockery over an email server. A candidate’s online presence could prove to be a make-or-break element of their campaign.


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Mathew is an Economics major from Brown University with a penchant for puns and analogies (as if you couldn't tell by reading this blog). He lives in Boston with his wife, Kate, and two dogs, Teddy and Luna.

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