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Gauging Interest In The Guns Case

Yesterday spawned a level of intense online interest in a Supreme Court decision like we at SCOTUSblog have never seen before.  We thought we’d let you know a few of our statistics just to give you an idea of how significant this decision was.

Hits.  In five and a half years, we’ve never had more than 100,000 hits on SCOTUSblog.  Yesterday, though, we had our first 100,000 hit day.  And then our first 200,000 hit and 300,000 hit day.  By the end of the day, we had over 370,000 hits, and 240,000 nominally “unique” visitors (though, as Tom mentioned, that’s an imperfect count because it counts repeatedly the many people whose computers don’t accept cookies).  We’re still amazed that our servers held up.

LiveBlog.  According to our LiveBlog software provider, Coveritlive – who offer a terrific (and free) product, by the way – we had about 20,000 LiveBlog viewers during the hour and eighteen minutes that we had the LiveBlog open, including 10,000 unique viewers who stayed for more than five minutes.  Over 6,000 people have replayed the LiveBlog since we ended it.

The opinion.  We can track how many times the opinions are downloaded from our servers, which are above and beyond the web hits cite above.  Wednesday was certainly a big day at the Supreme Court, and we saw over 8,500 downloads of the decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana and over 6,000 downloads of Exxon v. Baker.  We expected, then, something in the neighborhood of a few tens of thousands of downloads of the Heller decision, since we knew it would be popular.

But we were way off.  All told, from the moment we posted the opinion at around 10:22 am through the day yesterday, the opinion was downloaded over 93,000 times from our servers.  Because of the rise of the Internet and the accompanying ease of distributing the Justices’ own words, there seems a good chance that Heller is on track to be one of the most widely read Supreme Court opinions by the general public of all-time.

Around the web.  In addition to many Supreme Court watchers and many in the gun community who were already following this decision quite closely, the opinion ultimately ignited interest in a much broader set of people.  The Drudge Report had the headline “Carry On” all day yesterday, and was good enough to drive significant traffic here, as did other blogs that had a slew of fantastic commentary of their own.  The Digg service is another measure.  Lyle’s initial post on Heller has over 2,100 Diggs, making it the number 7 most-popular post on Digg in the last 24 hours, and with over 1,100(!) comments, it’s the most commented post on Digg.  (Since we don’t enable user comments on our site on most posts, you can participate in that discussion here.)