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Facebook as Predictor of the 2010 Elections

A few days ago Facebook released a study that showed that in most cases the candidate with the most Facebook fans won the election.  Specifically, they wrote:

“The Facebook political team’s initial snapshot of 98 House races shows that 74% of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests. In the Senate, our initial snapshot of 19 races shows that 81% of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests.”

Folks a lot smarter than I am have deftly pointed out the problems with the concept that you can predict election results based on the number of Facebook fans.  We have no idea how many of the fans actually live in the district of the politicians they are fans of.  Tea Party and colorful folks tend to attract more fans that more straightforward candidates.  Etc.  Etc.

However, I did want to add one small point to the discussion.  For politicians in lower profile races (Congress in particular), the number of Facebook hands is more an indication of how hard they have worked to recruit fans than it is of voter enthusiasm.

These fans don’t just appear out of the blue – campaigns work hard to actively build their fan base using a variety of tactics.  Do they have a prominent Facebook link on their site?  Do they include their Facebook address in email communication?  Do they post compelling content?  Do they run Facebook ads in an effort to promote their page?

Politicians with national profiles can simply put a Facebook page up and watch the numbers grow.  But your run-of-the-mill Congressional candidate has to work to grow their supporter base.  If you put in the time and spend some money you can make your numbers go up.  If you don’t, your numbers will stay pretty flat unless you are a sensation like Christine O’Donnell or Sharon Angle.

Get-Out-The-Visualizations! Social Media & Election Day

Besides Slurp140, here are a few of our favorite tools for following the election via social media that have recently come to our attention. Is there a website or tool you recommend?  Let us know!

 New York Times: The Election Will Be Tweeted (and Retweeted)

nyt_twitter_joemillerAlthough it is difficult to follow or discern the content of the incoming tweets, the side by side comparison feature is worth exploring. For instance, in the case of Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, the NYT graph indicates that at least in terms of volume, the buzz around Joe Miller is significantly higher. Also worth exploring is the NYT’s use of customized Google News searches to displays recent headlines about the candidates from the NYT, Washington Post, CNN, the AP, Politico, Fox News, NPR, ANC and CBS. (If your interested in more comprehensive social and traditional media monitoring, our Impact Watch service combines media monitoring with sentiment analysis that can be branded to your organization.)

Politics + Foursquare = GeoPollster

Location-Based Polling - GeoPollsterIn response to my 10/28 post on Foursquare’s I Voted badge, Adam Kraft of GeoPollster wrote in and informed me of GeoPollster, which allows you to cast your vote whenever you check in on Foursquare! After logging onto the GeoPollster site, you are asked to select your political party (Constitution, Democratic, Green, Libertarian or Republican) and add the GeoPollster account as a Foursquare friend.  Although so far, only 272 Fouraquare users have done so, I predict this app will soon be incredibly popular in Washington D.C. as a new front in ongoing completion between Democratic and Republican Hill staffers for domination of our local watering holes.

Facebook Ratings: Election2010

While we will soon know whether in-state Facebook fans are more valuable than out-of-state fans,  the blog All Facebook has created a nifty page that gives a quick overview of how the two primary national parties stack up on Facebook. Although it would be nice to see how all of the races stack up, we understand and appreciate how much a programming would be involved in tracking 435 House and 37 Senate campaigns.
Facebook Ratings - Election 2010Facebook Ratings - Election 2010- house and govs