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2018 US congressional midterm elections: case study of third-party tracking scripts on candidate websites

The 2018 United States congressional midterm elections: a case study of third-party tracking scripts on candidate websites, Valmik Patel, October 2018.

“Of the 1,008 websites we collected (House and Senate candidates for the 2018 midterm elections), we were left with 981 after removing duplicates and invalid links.  We found that trackers are present on 87% of all sites considered and that around 13% of all campaign pages assessed were tracker free. 41% of pages assessed had 2 – 5 trackers on them; followed by 26% of pages with 6 – 10 trackers; 13% of pages with 0 trackers; 11% of pages with 1 tracker; and 8% of pages with 11 – 20 trackers. Finally, just under 1% of pages had twenty or more trackers present.

Study Overview – “Over the past two years, we have explored the ecosystem of third-party tracking scripts online. Two recent studies on this topic include “Tracking the Trackers: Analysing the global tracking landscape with GhostRank” (July 2017) and “The Tracker Tax: the impact of third-party trackers on website speed in the United States” (May 2018). These studies led us to ask more specific questions about the presence of online trackers: we sought to understand the prevalence of tracking scripts on campaign websites for the 2018 midterm elections, which will take place on November 6, 2018. All 435 seats of the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 United States Senate seats will be on the ballot. More so than any midterm election in the past, campaign efforts are unprecedentedly digital, and as such, provide a great opportunity for examining the relationship between trackers and political campaigns…”

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