Trump continues to lead pack in 4G mobile and desktop performance
Carly crushes debate say political pundits, but her website needs a speed boost
Bush and Christie strategically streamline sites to increase speeds, again
Three out of four undercard candidate sites best the primetime pack
SAN FRANCISCO – SEPTEMBER 17, 2015 – The second Republican presidential debates on CNN last night didn’t produce any major fireworks or scuffles, though the discussion was often heated and the attention and attacks on frontrunner Donald Trump were relentless. But, Trump’s website performance before, during, and after the debate continued to solidly outpace his opponents with sub-five second response times on both mobile and desktop. All eyes were also on Carly Fiorina to see how she performed after moving up from the undercard to primetime. While some headlines say she “crushed” it, her website performance continued to languish in the bottom third of the Republican candidate pool. The candidates’ websites were measured continuously by AppDynamics, a leading application intelligence company, and summary data was collected the day before the debate and again, during, and immediately following the debate.
The Bush and Christie campaigns repeated a maneuver they used for the first debate, which was to significantly reduce the weight of their home pages so that they would load much faster on debate night, when one would expect a significant spike in traffic. The “Jeb 2016” site loaded more than twice as fast on debate night, and the Christie site shaved more than 40 percent off its load time.
“The Bush and Christie campaigns are being very strategic in how they manage their sites for performance,” said Peter Kacandes, senior product marketing manager at AppDynamics. “Making those changes for debate night to speed up their sites is a smart move in anticipation of a lot of new traffic. Those new visitors are going to have a good experience, performance-wise. It’s a trade-off, though, because you want a rich content experience, too. Between the debates, they went back to their heavier pages — which in the case of Bush, was more than four times the debate night weight — 8.3 megabytes versus 2.0. That’s a huge difference.”
Frontrunner Donald Trump, whose debate responses some pundits called “lightweight,” has a website that is consistently lightweight as well, but that contributes to its frontrunner status, performance-wise, so in that respect it’s a winning strategy. Weighing in at just about one megabyte, the Trump site is loading on desktops consistently in less than three seconds, and on 4G in just over four seconds, both well ahead of the rest of the candidates.
Carly Fiorina’s debate performance was perhaps the most applauded of all the candidates. The performance of her website, though, has been lackluster, with page-load times hovering in the mid-teens on both desktop and 4G.
“When you look at all the candidates’ website performance, as a group their end-user response time is not all that impressive, but that can be deceptive,” Kacandes says. “In most cases, their ‘time to first render’ is acceptable. Fiorina’s site, for example, has a first-render time on desktop of 3.4 seconds, which most users would consider acceptable.”
Here is how the websites performed on average before the debate, measured on Tuesday, 9/15, and then during and immediately following the debate (top three performers in each category shown in white):
End-User Response Time* (seconds)
End-User Response Time
* End-User Response Time: Defined as the time perceived by an end-user for the complete page to download
AppDynamics measured the ten candidates’ websites from two locations, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, using the Google Chrome web browser. While the actual experience of end users varies due to a variety of factors, the synthetic measurements that AppDynamics provides offer an accurate, relative ranking of the performance of the candidates’ websites.
AppDynamics will be measuring the campaign websites of the top presidential candidates every month throughout the election cycle.
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