For months, those paying close attention to the presidential race have speculated about what role the Internet will play in this election, with the biggest question being whether online popularity will translate into victories at the polls.
At least one website ended up being a pretty accurate measure of the outcome in Iowa. Just a day before the caucuses, Eventful.com, which allows users to demand that their favorite musicians, candidates, and celebrities come to their hometown, announced that Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee had topped the list of candidates most demanded in Iowa. Obama got 1,436 new demands, bringing his total to more than 47,000 and pushing him far ahead of fellow frontrunners Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.
Huckabee, at the last moment in Iowa, snuck past Ron Pau,l who has been by far the most popular Republican candidate on the Web. Paul's supporters have been so vocal on the Web that they've "bombed" his campaign with millions of dollars in online donations and even went as far as to get their favorite liberty-loving Republican a blimp. Huckabee attracted 258 new people the day before the caucuses who requested that the former Arkansas governor visit their Iowa hometowns.
"Both Obama and Huckabee have been particularly successful in engaging grassroots supporters through Eventful, which is evidenced by the fact that they are the most demanded candidates in Iowa on Eventful," said Jordan Glazier, CEO at Eventful.
While other online barometers such as the number of Facebook friends a candidate has or how many people have viewed their YouTube videos online lack a geographic component, Eventful is based entirely on a candidate's popularity in a particular location. It may be something to watch as the primary season heats up starting in New Hampshire on Tuesday, especially if youth voter turnout remains high.
It seems so far that the Web is having an effect on this election. Ifnot, why would Mike Huckabee at his victory speech Thursday have the star of his most popular YouTube video—Chuck Norris— lurking behind his left shoulder ready to dole out roundhouse kicks?