Can Social Networks Predict Elections?

Can Social Networks Predict Elections?

Taryn Williford
Nov 7, 2008

We know we're supposed to cover the technology in your home, but this one's more about a different type of "home" in technology: Social Networking sites. We're not citing any research paper or anything, but in our own observational studies, we find that the young generation is finding themselves at home on sites like Facebook and MySpace and using the sites for far more than just casual communication. So we're not really surprised to find that facebook activity in the days leading up to the election were a big indicator of what was goin' down. Facebook has just reported its usage statistics for leading up to and through election day...

According to Facebook:

  • Preliminary data shows an increase of more than 20 percent in activity on the site on election day vs. last Tuesday (measured by page views).

  • More than 5.44 million people clicked the "I voted" button on Facebook to tell their friends they voted.

  • John McCain: 625k supporters on Facebook

  • Barack Obama: 2.5 million supporters - the most popular page on Facebook (no. 2 is Michael Phelps with 1.6 million)

  • Since Sept. 5, McCain has added more than 330k fans and Obama has added more than 750k fans.

  • On Facebook, Obama added more than 18k supporters Sunday night, more than 25k Monday night, and added more than 40k supporters on election day. That is the largest single day of growth Facebook has on record.

  • McCain lost about 300 Facebook supporters on election day.

  • Total election-related virtual gifts given: more than 2 million

  • Shortly after midnight on Nov 4, about 1 million people used the Causes application to simultaneously set their Facebook status with a unified message to remind their friends to vote. This kicked off one of the largest online rallies in history, with currently over 1.5 million people participating and growing quickly. So far, 4.5 million status messages have been posted.

  • In October, Facebook partnered with Rock the Vote to register more than 50k.

  • In the days leading up to Nov. 4, the site was averaging about 200k wall posts per day related to the election. On election day, wall posts mentioning Obama surged to more than 1.1 million and those mentioning McCain went to 280k. There were more than 2 million total wall posts related to the election on election day.

[ From ZDNet. ][ Image from cambodia4kidsorg@Flickr ]

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