Sex ads on Denver Craigslist spike with Democrats' arrival

Correlation or causation? You decide: as Democrats gathered in Denver, sex-wanted ads increased roughly 70 percent to 80 percent on Craigslist.

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Declan McCullagh
2 min read

DENVER--An unusual phenomenon has recently appeared on Craigslist's Denver Web site. Sex-wanted ads spiked this week, which happens to coincide with the Democratic National Convention.

Ads seeking casual sexual encounters through the Denver Craigslist site increased an average of roughly 70 percent to 80 percent over the same days of the week earlier in August.

"Casual encounter" ads spiked the week of the Democratic National Convention. But correlation does not, by itself, prove causation. The vertical axis is posts-per-day, and the horizontal axis represents every day of August to date.

On average, 425 posts on Craiglist's "Casual Encounters" area appeared on the first three Sundays in August. But this Sunday, when tens of thousands of people had arrived for the convention, 763 posts appeared--an 80 percent increase.

The general content is what you might expect. Posts suggested "Here 4 DNC? Come get sexual with me"; "Does the DNC make you hot?"; and "Looking to service a young Democrat." (Most are far more explicit, but unsuitable for our upstanding, discriminating readers. Use your imagination.)

Other days showed the same week-over-week jump. Monday increased 77 percent over the average of earlier in the month; Tuesday increased 69 percent; Wednesday's increase was 74 percent.

This is where we insert the disclaimers. Mere correlation does not imply causation: other factors could explain this rise in advertisements.

Perhaps universities are back in session, or it's warmer or colder out. Perhaps loyalists of another political party are intentionally posting fake advertisements in hopes that the Democrats will be blamed. Perhaps the thousands of journalists in town are seeking extracurricular activities. Make up your own mind. And yes, we'll be paying attention to what happens during the Republican convention as well.

(Technical details: We saved headlines for the posts of each day in August into a text file, and ran the Unix "sort" and "uniq" utilities on each to eliminate duplicate headlines. Also, we noticed that the posts-per-day can vary over time, as posts are deleted once someone's needs are met, making this analysis something of a moving target. The outlier in the chart--a one-day lull--on August 10 seems to have been caused by a previously reported outage.)