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Although online engagement increases with every election, the 2016 presidential election saw a particularly dramatic boost. As surprising polling results rolled in across the nation, voters and global observers turned to trusted media sites to follow the politically polarizing race. On November 8, 2016, Vox Media’s Election Day emotion tracker showed that many readers were on edge – “anxious” was the most common emotion submitted to Vox, and media traffic surged into the early morning hours as the election came to a close.
Over 75 million global tweets were sent related to the 2016 election, and traffic remained high throughout the day – we saw a sustained increase in traffic for media sites with real-time election coverage, with traffic to these sites surging 9x higher than average weekly traffic. We also served a record 5 million requests per second as the world went online to monitor the election.
The New York Times removed their paywall for 72 hours from 12:01 AM ET on Monday, November 7 until 11:59 PM ET on Wednesday, November 9 so readers could freely consult the news site for live election coverage and a real-time election map. Nytimes.com is behind Fastly, and we were able to observe some traffic trends during this period.
We'd like to extend a special thank you to the New York Times, who graciously allowed us to share the nytimes.com traffic trends we observed for November 8-9, 2016:
Fastly powers tens of thousands of websites, including top publishers and social media platforms like BuzzFeed, Vox Media, Twitter, Wenner Media, and Condé Nast, giving us key insights into how users react online — the following represents aggregated traffic patterns we saw on election day.
On a normal day, media traffic normally drops off around 1 AM ET as readers shut off screens to go to bed; aggregated media traffic on election night was 350% above average as viewers flocked online to check on election results and impact to the market.
Here’s a timeline of the media traffic trends we observed on November 8-9, 2016:
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