congress on facebookSince our 2006 report on the quality and content of campaign websites, we have seen a marked improvement across the board in sites that incorporate multimedia content, personal fundraising, the Spanish language, and of course, candidate presences on social networking websites. With the 2010 midterm elections just a week away, one would assume that given the wide praise and success of  President Obama’s 2008 campaign website and social media presence, that senior members of his own party in tough campaigns would be the most adept at online communications and social media.

Surprisingly, one only need do a quick Google search for “Harry Reid” to find out this is not the case,  as Angle supporters own the keyword “Harry Reid” on Google AdWords.  If you do manage to find Senate Majority Leader Reid’s website, with the exception of the splash page, his official website is almost exclusively devoted to Sharron Angle.  Conversely, Angle’s website splash page and Facebook fan page are all about President Obama. Call me “Old School” but I find this strange. When you spend more time attacking your opponent than pitching your case, perhaps voters can be forgiven for selecting “none of the above” on their ballots.

Given that the majority of polling fails to account for voters who only have cell phones and the general fact that membership in social networking sites is younger, we conducted some brief research into the quantity and quality of online support for five very competitive Senate campaigns. Although the raw number of a candidate’s Facebook fans and Twitter followers is a quick and easy metric that is useful for gauging momentum (see the Facebook Ratings: Election 2010 post on AllFacebook), we used Slurp140 over the last 7 days to track activity on Twitter and combined the results with Facebook’s ad targeting tool.

By The Numbers
In examining the closest five Senate campaigns in which the Democrats have to win at least two to remain in control of the Senate: Boxer vs. Fiorina, in California, Murray vs. Rossi in Washington, Kirk vs. Giannoulias in Illinois, Raese vs. Manchin in West Virginia, and Reid vs. Angel in Nevada; our team came up with the following results:

Facebook- Most in-state supporters:

  • Boxer with 20,560 over Fiorina’s 9,320
  • Murray with 15,460 over Rossi’s 3,460
  • Giannoulias with 10,520 over Kirk’s 6,020
  • Manchin with 3,140. (Stats for Raese N/A- Manchin’s total count is 1,710 higher)
  • Angle with 8,780 over Reid’s 6,880

Facebook- Most out-of-state supporters:  Of Sharron Angle’s 87,880 fans over 18, Only 8,780 claim Nevada as home on Facebook. Perhaps this race is getting some national attention? While Harry Reid isn’t doing much better, he is benefiting from a flaw in the algorithm as Facebook’s Ad Manager shows 22,020 supporters for Reid, 6,680 of whom list Nevada as home.

Most Educated Supporters: Those who self identify as college grads prefer Boxer, Murray, Giannoulias, Manchin and Reid.

Most Engaged Supporters: Sharron Angle, by a landslide. Since 10/18, things posted to the Angle campaign wall have attracted an impressive 24,841 total ‘likes’ or comments. Otherwise  Fiorina (3,686) tops Boxer (2,716) Rossi (4,713) over Murray (3,578)  Giannoulias (1,629) over Kirk (1,377) and Raese (984) over Manchin (846)

In terms of how Facebook statistics correlate with presence on other social networks, for whatever reason the GOP seems to be more adept at Twitter as:

Most Twitter Followers: Fiorina, Rossi, Kirk and Angle are all ahead. In West Virginia, neither candidate has put much time or effort into their accounts.

Highest Volume Twitter: On October 20th we set up Slurp140 to track all mentions of official candidate accounts in California, IllinoisNevada, Washington and West Virginia. Here both the total volume of tweets and number of people tweeting is generally in line with national media coverage. Given that since October 20th, only 950 people have referenced the WV Senate campaigns, perhaps the candidates there can be forgiven for not devoting time or resources to this medium. While there are certainly a large number of anonymous accounts and trolls, a quick look at the leaderboards indicates that with the exception of West Virginia, those on the  leaderboards are predominantly against the Democrats.

1. Nevada: 11,490 tweets by 3,292 people.
2. California: 10,838 tweets by 4,365
3. Washington: 9,595 tweets by 2, 253 people
4.  Illinois: 4,390 tweets by 1,166 people
5. West Virginia: 2,795 tweets by 950 people

Most YouTube Views: Perhaps due to the intervention of some Demon Sheep, Fiorina is way ahead of everyone with 857,007 total views. GOP a
lso seems to be winning the YouTube war as with the exception of Manchin, Angle, Rossi and Kirk are all ahead of their opponents.


1. While all politics may be local, modern campaigns are now national.

2. Many campaigns, despite having substantial resources are failing to follow the basics.

3. As we noted in our 2006 report– challengers, regardless of party affiliation are still the most adept at using new and emerging web tools. While the Democrat’s strength on Facebook in these specific races might be the exceptions that prove the rule, overall when you compare the national party committees candidates, the GOP is proving to be the most versatile producer of social media in 2010.