Voter.com Drops Out of the Race

Voter.com Drops Out Of The Race

Voter.com, the content-heavy political and election news Web site that recently signed several high-profile and talented writers, conceded Feb. 5 it was time to close up shop for good.



"There is no question the politics-Internet union will one day be profitable, and at that time we will take pride in having blazed this trail," said Voter.com Chief Executive Officer Justin Dangel. "Unfortunately, financial market conditions worked against us."



Founded in November 1999 by former Clinton administration adviser Craig Smith, Voter.com managed to attract a bevy of talented writers and strategists, including former Washington Post investigative reporter Paul Bernstein and former Clinton speechwriter Lowell Weiss.



Even though the company astonished naysayers by earning a staggeringly high number of page hits during the last election cycle, Voter.com was recently forced to lay off nearly one-third of its staff after it failed to earn another round of venture funding.



On election day, Voter.com earned nearly 17 million page hits but continued to face stiff competition from news portal sites, such as MSNBC and CNN.com, which logged an average of roughly 8 million page hits per hour that day.



In fact, a recent study by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press found in the past election cycle, people searching for political information online favored more established news sites over those offering independent political coverage by a margin of roughly seven to one.



Karen Jagoda, president of the E-Voter Institute, said political sites such as Voter.com have fallen away because they have had a hard time convincing venture capitalists they serve a wider audience than just the techno-savvy political junkie.



"There's no built-in constituency for online political portals," Jagoda said. "The true die-hard political junkies are very small in number, and sites like Voter.com haven't been able to show that these folks really buy things" online, she said.



Voter.com joins several other political portals that have recently shut down or drastically shifted their business models to stay afloat: Politics.com recently threw in the towel, followed soon after by OneDemocracy.com.



San Francisco-based Grassroots.com now focuses less on content so it can spend more time developing software that it hopes will help associations, nonprofits and lobbying groups better organize their political efforts.

Political polling site SpeakOut.com recently changed its name to Ntercept Communications, and plans to sell its online surveys and polls for use in marketing research.



Phil Noble, president of Politicsonline.com, said he has little doubt many of these sites will be back again in some form or another in time for the next major election.



"It's really not a question of if, but more when and how these sites will come back," Noble said. "Voter.com showed just one that it didn't work, but that doesn't mean the whole thing ain't right."




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