Can Facebook Predict Election Winners?

(Ping! Zine) – has recently checked the Facebook profiles and pages of U.S. Senate and Congressional candidates a week before the September primaries, to see if having more supporters on Facebook can tell something about who is going to win the elections.

In the Senate Primary Races, winners of 8 of the 10 contested Senate primary races were predicted by the number of Facebook supporters the candidates had a week before the elections. The two exceptions were Kelly Ayotte’s victory over Bill Binnie in the New Hampshire Republican Senate Primaries, and Jay Townsend’s victory over Gary Berntsen in the New York Republican Senate Primaries.

Similarly, in the Congressional Primary Races, winners of 42 of the 57 contested Congressional primary races were predicted by the number of Facebook supporters. Some noted races that were not predicted were Reid Ribble’s victory in Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District’s Republican Primaries (Roger Roth had more supporters), Randy Altschuler’s victory in New York’s 1st Congressional District’s Republican Primaries (Chris Cox had more supporters), and Matt Doheny’s victory over Doug Hoffman in New York’s 23rd Congressional District’s Republican Primaries.

Are these findings indicative? Campaigning on the internet and social media has been widely discussed as a potential catalyst for grassroots action and social change. Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts’s special Senate elections earlier this year, along with Christine O’Donnell’s victory over Mike Castle in Delaware’s Senate primaries, are indicative that when done right, social media can help candidates tremendously in ‘firing up their base’, and in attracting new supporters towards election day. As a prediction tool, future studies will tell whether online social networks can act as a proxy for predicting election results. As the Economist noted in this week’s issue, the power of traditional polls in predicting election results has been declining since fewer Americans have landline phones, making the population samples pollsters use more and more prone to statistical biases.

With three weeks left for the general elections, candidates, and especially financially challenged candidates, can still utilize the power of social media to help improve their exposure and to fire up their base. One of the ways Election Arena hopes to help candidates is in providing them with a dashboard to better manage their social media campaigns, with analytics to improve their message engagement and reach, and by identifying their key supporters in order to grow their exposure faster in the social media. Also, since lets visitors to the site easily find and interact with all the candidates across all levels of government in their area, an active profile on showing all their social media activities from across the social networks can improve candidates’ exposure to undecided voters.

“Having a dedicated website, a Facebook Page, Twitter and YouTube accounts is great, and it is already changing the way political campaigns are run. However, for the voters to get to them, they already need to know who the candidates are, and in order for the voters to interact with the candidates, they must “like” or “follow” the candidates first. On, within three clicks the public can now learn about and interact with a candidate they never heard of before, who’s running for an election they didn’t know existed before. That’s easy engagement and social media for elections done right. We encourage all candidates for Local, State, and Federal offices to claim their profiles on and to start taking advantage of the dashboard in order to empower their social media campaigns”.