Among the findings of last week's Pew report on what drives traffic to -- and from -- news websites, David Carr today highlights the continuing influence of the Drudge Report.

As Carr noted, Nielsen numbers cited by the Project for Excellence in Journalism show the Drudge Report driving more traffic to news websites than Facebook. (Some have disputed these numbers.)

I wondered: How has Drudge's audience changed over the years? Is it really steady, or has it declined or grown since he gained prominence during Bill Clinton's presidency when he famously featured early news of what would become the Monica Lewinsky scandal?

Tracking by comScore was only available from 2007 on, however it paints an interesting picture of Drudge's audience, which grows during the heat of campaigns and elections and diminishes other times (continued below image).

The annual average number of unique U.S. visitors to Drudge's site grew between 2007 and 2010 and began to decline this year.

Year Uniques (000)
2008 1,706
2009 1,801
2010 1,856
2011 1,640

September through November of 2008 were peak months (during the last presidential election), as were July and August of 2009 and November 2009-March 2010 (before, during and after the last midterm elections). The lower average for this year may reflect seasonal differences and campaign cycles; previous January-April averages were below the annual average in 2008 and 2009, but above the annual average in 2010.

For additional perspective, Drudge's 1,612,000 unique visitors for April leaves him off the list of top 25 news sites. Drudge Report would place around 40th in the list of top news sites, well below with its 24,020,000 uniques and below, with its 2,034,000 uniques.
> Washington Post disputes study touting Drudge's influence