Conservatives finish first in web traffic poll

Labour may have won a third term in office, but the Tories topped the polls when it came to website hits, a study into UK voters’ surfing habits revealed…

The Liberal Democrats came second in the poll, which monitored the number of hits each of the main parties’ websites received during the election campaign.
Labour struggled into third place and, in a reflection of the election result proper, saw their share of the 'vote' of website hits fall from 27.3 per cent to 26.3 per cent.

The poll, conducted by Internet monitoring firm Hitwise, tracked visits to the three main party’s websites in the period from when the election was called, on 5 April, to the day before polling.

Figures from the survey, published on General Election day, showed the Tories hang on to the lead they had going in to the election campaign as the party with the most virtual visits.

But they were also the heaviest losers in the campaign, seeing their share of Internet traffic fall from 39.6 per cent at the start of the election to just 30.6 per cent on 4 May, despite retaining the lead throughout.

By contrast, the Liberal Democrats saw the biggest gain during the period, with their share of website traffic up from 19.1 per cent at the start of campaigning to 27.2 per cent on 4 May.

The party also scored when it came to Internet searches, with over 50 per cent more voters looking for the Liberal Democrats on the web than searching for Labour or the Conservatives.

Hitwise marketing manager Jannie Cahill said that although the study was not reflected in the outcome of the General Election, it had acted as a good barometer of political interest during the campaign.

She said: ”We found that there was a direct correlation between what was happening on the ground and the number of hits a party’s website got.

“For instance, on the days their manifestos were published, each of the three main parties saw a huge increase in traffic to their website.

“We also found that a big offline event, like a public rally, was mirrored online with an increase in the numbers of people visiting the relevant party’s website.

“And if a party scored a hit in the campaign with something like a really good press conference, for instance, its website hits also went up accordingly,” she added.

Minor parties also figured in the survey, with the Greens coming out on top with 7.4 per cent of 4 May's Internet traffic, while 4.5 per cent of voters logged onto the UKIP website.

George Galloway’s Respect Party pulled in 2.6 per cent of voters, while Welsh Nationalists Plaid Cymru attracted just 1.4 per cent.