March 5, 2010

Candidates Find Incumbent Advantage Extends To Web

THIRTEEN YEARS in the House of Representatives and a stint as majority leader have furnished Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., with useful GOP and K Street support for his Senate bid. But Blunt's long resume also means a boost from another source: Google.

Not from the search giant's PAC, which has favored congressional Democrats this cycle and has not contributed to Blunt's campaign. Rather, Google and other search engines provide Blunt a leg up in its search listings.

When users search for neutral terms related to the race, such as "Missouri senate campaign," Blunt's fundraising page consistently ranks higher than that of his lesser-known Democratic opponent, Robin Carnahan, who finds herself on the second page of results. Sixty-eight percent of searchers review results only on the first page, according to an iProspect study. This may be particularly true for casual voters who go online just to figure out who is running.

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