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Presidential candidates' Web sites put to speed test

George W. Bush may not have much on his campaign Web site--a 17-paragraph note and a few closely cropped mugshots--but it scores a few points for being the fastest to download.

George W. Bush may not have much on his campaign Web site--a 17-paragraph note and a few closely cropped mugshots--but it scores a few points for being the fastest to download.

The George W. Bush site ranked No. 1 for speed by Internet performance measurement firm Keynote Systems in a test over the course of yesterday's primaries that included all of the presidential Web sites.

Vice President Al Gore's Web pages came in second place, although his site had far more information and graphics, which could explain why it took a little longer to access.

"So many of the presidential candidates made news by use of the Web site to collect money and advertise their platform," said Daniel Todd, director of public services at San Mateo, Calif.-based Keynote. "We think the performance and availability of these sites is critical to their success."

For nine hours yesterday, Keynote repeatedly downloaded every candidate's official Web site, each time marking how long it took to do the exercise over a T-1 or T-3 Internet connection.

The feat was made possible by setting up 66 Internet access points in 25 large U.S. cities, including New York and San Francisco.

What they found was that it took 1.69 seconds to download Bush's site, while Gore's took almost twice as long, at 3.06 seconds.

One reason for Bush's first place win could be because he didn't have very much on his site--only 44 kilobytes worth of text and graphics. Gore's site, on the other hand, had 194 kilobytes, large even by what is normally seen from business on the Net, Todd said.

"Super Tuesday" Internet performance
Average time in seconds to download candidates' Web pages. 
Official Web site National California New York Size of home page
  George W. Bush     1.69     1.37     1.37     44K  
  Al Gore     3.06     3.30     .92     194K  
  Bill Bradley     7.20     8.75     5.44     91K  
  John McCain     3.94     5.11     2.68     76K  
  Alan Keyes     5.34     4.00     5.03     68K  
Source: Keynote Systems
Democratic candidate Bill Bradley's Web pages took the longest to download, at 7.02 seconds, even though he measured in the middle in terms of content at 91 kilobytes of information, Keynote's data shows.

"It was little surprising to see that Bradley's site was the slowest, because he used the Web throughout his campaign," Todd said.

Nonetheless, compared with a group of 40 businesses Keynote regularly measures such as Yahoo, Infoseek and Lycos, most of the presidential candidates' sites fared just as well, if not better, in terms of speed.

For kicks, Keynote periodically checks certain computer systems to see how they perform during major events.

On New Year's Eve, the company measured computer reliability through the Y2K turnover. And on Valentine's Day, it tested gift and card sites and found that many strained to deliver the goods.