The Democratic National Convention may have done little to improve John F. Kerry's standing in the polls. But JohnKerry.com? That's another story.
Nielsen/NetRatings, an independent research firm, reported that traffic to the nominee's official Web site increased by 191 percent during the week of the convention, making it the fastest-growing major Web site in the country (for that week, anyway). In all, about 771,000 people visited the site from their homes. The firm distinguishes between Internet use at home and at work, and it did not release data on how the Massachusetts senator's site, or any other one, fared among those on the job. It estimated that visitors spend an average of eight minutes on the site.
Overall, the Kerry campaign's site was the 213th most popular in the country, just ahead of the online home of the business supply company Staples and right behind InPhonic.com, a site for a communications firm. JohnKerry.com was more popular than, for example, United Airlines' site, but it had fewer guests than either the Boston Globe's site or one called "Kara's Adult Playground."
His audience was paltry compared with some of the Web's most popular destinations. Yahoo.com had 45.8 million visitors for the week ended Aug. 1. MSN.com, the second most popular site, had 45.6 million. It is also likely that the nominee attracted only a tiny percentage of those online.
But Kerry's readership far eclipsed that of his Republican rivals. Nielsen/NetRatings estimated that the Republican National Committee's site had about 275,000 readers during the convention week, a 32 percent increase over the previous seven-day period. President Bush's campaign site, meanwhile, did not have enough visitors to register with the firm.
Ad Criticizing Kerry Draws Finance Complaint
A trio of watchdog groups filed a complaint yesterday accusing Swift Boat Veterans for Truth of breaking campaign finance laws when it launched a widely noted television ad attacking the Democratic presidential nominee.
Democracy 21, the Campaign Legal Center and the Center for Responsive Politics told federal election officials that the veterans group -- a Republican-leaning "527 organization" -- illegally used "soft money" to pay for the ad campaign. The group is spending $500,000 to run a television spot accusing Kerry, a decorated veteran, of lying about his military record. His campaign, along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a fellow veteran, denounced the ad last week -- and asked President Bush to do the same. White House spokesman Scott McClellan declined to do so then and again yesterday when pressed by reporters about the attacks from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
The veterans organization has denied the watchdog groups' allegations. Those groups have filed similar complaints against other 527 organizations, including the pro-Democratic Media Fund and the pro-Republican Progress for America Voter Fund. Each of those complaints is pending before the Federal Election Commission.
Also yesterday, one of the authors of a new anti-Kerry book, "Unfit for Command," which has the same theme as the ad, apologized for comments he made on a conservative Web site describing Muslims and Catholics as pedophiles and Pope John Paul II as senile. Jerome R. Corsi told the Associated Press they were meant as a joke and he never intended to offend anyone.