As much as Web sites are judged these days by their levels of interactivity, they are also judged by the different ways a consumer can access the information most conveniently for their lifestyle.

Here the 2008 presidential campaign Web sites seem a little further behind some national news media outlets.

We looked at six different ways that candidates provided the consumer access to their content: email updates/alerts, RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds, podcasts, mobile device delivery, search function and customizable content on the site.

E-mail alerts and RSS feeds are nearly universal (Duncan Hunter’s lack of RSS is the only exception). Other delivery options, though, are largely absent. Just four candidates have podcast options. Content delivery to mobile devices like cell phones or PDA’s (a popular feature of most major news outlets), is even harder to find. In May not a single site offered this option. By June, though, there were signs of candidates moving in this direction. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards added this option, featuring it on their home pages as a way for supporters to get campaign updates on their phones.

On-demand Access Options by Candidate
Candidate RSS Feed Podcasts Mobile
Biden (D) X
Brownback (R) X X
Clinton (D) X X
Cox (R) X X
Dodd (D) X
Edwards(D) X X X
Gilmore (R) X X
Giuliani (R) X
Gravel (D) X X
Huckabee (R) X
Hunter (R) X
Kucinich (D) X
McCain (R) X
Obama (D) X X
Paul (R) X
Richardson (D) X X
Romney (R) X
Tancredo (R) X
Thompson (R) X

Source: PEJ analysis, June 11-12, 2007

John Edwards offers the most delivery options (five of the six features). Three Democrats and two Republicans fall in the second highest category: Brownback (R), Jim Gilmore (R), Mike Gravel, (D) Barack Obama (D) and Bill Richardson (D) with four of the six features. Well over one-third, however, (eight of the 19 candidates) fall in the lowest group, without a search tool, customization or mobile delivery of content.

The following scale offers a glimpse of how the candidates stacked up in terms of how they offered access to Web site content, where one is low and six is high. Overall, the Democrats again do slightly better than the Republicans in providing their supporters with multiple means of accessing and customizing content. Democratic candidates scored an average of 3.4 while Republicans average 2.6.


Comparing Candidates: On-Demand Access
Number of Methods to Access/Customize Site Content



Source: PEJ Content Analysis, June 11-12, 2007