An inside look at the new

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The new pretty much been a disaster. This project started poorly and never caught up. In any event, here’s a look at the technology behind the site.


Hosting is through a firm called Airnet that operates hosting services its SMARTTech brand. If you haven’t heard of them, you aren’t the only one. They host only a few thousand domains and primarily serve GOP political interests (most famously the email server). The site is hosted on Windows, using IIS 7 and PHP 5.2.11. Curiously they didn’t spring for the dedicated IP address, is sharing an IP with domains like and the venerable


ExpressionEngine is the content management system. This is easily confirmed by the presence of a text file you typically delete before launching a site (in case it’s deleted, it says “Welcome to ExpressionEngine!”. Looking for files like this is a great way to see how a site works—WordPress can often be confirmed along with its version number by looking for readme.html on the root level).

ExpressionEngine is a fine CMS and is in use for other political sites on both sides of the aisle. The performance issues were more likely due to poor planning than anything with ExpressionEngine. One example of said poor planning is the Expires header sent is set 12 years in the past.

Libraries / Tools

There’s lots of social media API integration which is pretty typical these days. Facebook loads JS on every page load for example. SWFObject is used throughout. The main Javascript library used is MooTools and MooTools More, which are embedded in a single JS file that also does the other sitewide scripting.

Shadowbox.js is also embedded in that file though without any attribution.


Speed is being kind, the site is dog slow. For good reason too, all the previously mentioned social media integration makes for a huge number of requests. I just loaded the home page and Firebug says: 194 requests, 2.02MB and an amazing 83 seconds for full completion. Compare this to which has 69 requests, 900KB and loads in under 4 seconds (not a speed demon in its own right, but not insane).

No CDN is used and far in the future expires headers aren’t used for navigational elements.

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