Sarah Palin winning the Wikipedia popularity contest

Even though her VP candidacy was only announced August 29, she was the site's most popular subject for August, and her online popularity could make GOP Web ads more effective.

Stephanie Condon
Stephanie Condon Staff writer, CBSNews.com
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.
2 min read
Updated at 10:50 a.m. PDT to clarify that Michael Phelps' career gold medal tally hit 14 in August. He won eight golds in the 2008 Olympic Games.

Sarah Palin's Wikipedia page underwent thousands of edits the day her vice presidential candidacy was announced--and it received an equally overwhelming number of hits, unsurprisingly.

Nearly 1.2 million people read Palin's Wikipedia page in the first 36 hours after Republican presidential candidate John McCain announced she was his VP choice, according to Web analytics company Compete.com. Palin's page was the most popular Wikipedia page for all of August, even though her candidacy was only announced August 29. The Alaska governor even outshined Michael Phelps on Wikipedia, whose page was the second-most popular the month his career gold medal tally hit 14.

Sarah Palin's page was the most popular on Wikipedia for the month of August. Wikipedia

Palin's online popularity might also be fueling the higher number of female Web surfers visiting JohnMcCain.com. Prior to the addition of Palin to the Republican ticket, 48 percent of visitors to McCain's site were female; since the Palin announcement, female visitors account for 52 percent of traffic.

The increased female presence on McCain's Web site mirrors the gains in polls McCain has made with women since choosing Palin as a running mate--but it could also add to the momentum of his popularity with that key demographic. The campaigns are using Web ads to drive news cycles and discussions regarding the election--and hopefully win over voters without spending money on television ads.

The McCain campaign received quite a bit of attention for running a Web ad, later removed that implied Barack Obama is sexist.

The Democrats, not willing to cede Internet discussion to the Republicans, launched a "Count the Lies" Web site on Monday. On that site, modeled after Wikipedia, the Democratic National Committee responds to what it calls "lies and distortions" McCain has made on the campaign trail.