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Bush site beats out

The Texas governor edges out presidential rival Al Gore in the battle for Internet eyeballs.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush has edged out presidential rival Al Gore in the battle for Internet eyeballs.

Top campaign and election Web sites, 11/18

This week Last week Web site % Audience reached Unique users (000)
  1     3       0.6%     491  
  2     2     0.5%     435  
  3     1     0.4%     392  
  4     4     0.1%     134  
  5     6     0.1%     113  
Source: PC Data Online
According to research from PC Data Online, Bush's official Web site drew 491,000 unique visitors during the week of Nov. 18, beating out, which saw just 435,000 visitors.

The ranking reversed the previous week's standings, when the vice president's site proved more popular. Neither site, however, was heavily trafficked, each drawing well below 1 percent of the total Web audience.

Campaign Web sites and online news publications saw a surge in traffic immediately following the election, which produced no declared winner and sent voters rushing to the Web for updates on the impasse.

Those numbers, however, dropped in the following week, according to PC Data, which noted that the presidential campaign sites remained in the spotlight but "with only a portion of their former selves and traffic intact."

Gartner analyst Christopher Baum says voting in the 2000 U.S. presidential election would have been significantly more efficient if additional electronic voting options had been available.

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In a further sign of the waning interest in online election news, most visited news site, according to PC Data--on Tuesday offered beleaguered readers the option to be notified by email when the final presidential vote tally is in.

Despite the drop in Web traffic, the electoral drama continues to build, with the Florida Supreme Court on Monday hearing oral arguments over the status of hand recounts that could decide the contest.

The recounts are crucial to Gore's hopes of carrying the state with its 25 electoral college votes and securing the presidency. He trails Bush by some 930 votes, including absentee ballots reported Friday.

Despite dwindling traffic numbers and a second-place finish, Gore and vice presidential running mate Joe Lieberman did pretty well considering hasn't been updated since Nov. 10. The site continues to feature a letter from Gore's campaign chairman, William Daley, stating that "this election is not over" and that "a hand count process will begin in the coming days."

A call to Gore headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., was greeted with a recorded message that stated the campaign is "in the process of shutting down."

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has taken up Gore's cause in the post-election period, organizing a recount effort and posting up-to-date news on the latest developments in Florida.

"The campaign ended Nov. 7," said a representative for the Gore recount committee, who referred questions about the Democrat's Web strategy to the DNC's main number. The DNC could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bush and running mate Dick Cheney's site, by contrast, is alive and kicking. Late Tuesday it included a plea for money to help fight an ongoing hand recount requested by Gore in three Florida counties and a statement by the campaign's attorney, Ben Ginsberg, discussing legal maneuvers.

Bush's site has raised more than $2 million since Nov. 14 for the recount battle, according to Cliff Angelo, Bush's e-campaign manager.

"The Internet has been an amazing help" in the campaign, he said. "The support has been incredible."

Want election news? Get it here The Bush campaign has capitalized on its extensive email list throughout the election ordeal. The latest email was sent Tuesday afternoon and was titled "Got Chad?" It included a video clip of a Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board member inspecting a ballot.

"Click here to watch a member...bend, scratch, poke and press a ballot during the manual recount," the note said.

The streaming video was available for access via a 56K modem as well as for 100K broadband. Once a recipient clicked on the links, the words "hokeypokey" appeared along with a soundtrack of a little ditty, much like the ones played for silent movies. The video is of a dark-haired woman bending and peering at a ballot while talking to a man standing near her.

Most of the 30-second or so clip was a replay of the woman bending the ballot.

"The Republicans are the only ones rallying people on the Web to get angry," said Chris Hunter, a policy analyst at "I've been amazed that I haven't gotten anything from the Gore camp."'s Patricia Jacobus contributed to this report.