During the 2010 election season, 22% of Internet users were engaged with the electoralcampaigns through online social networks.
This percentage has likely increased significantly,and thus the candidates, their campaigns, and the press are trying to take advantage of these new platforms.For over 80 years, professional pollsters have used techniques to predict election outcomes. Associal media platforms continue their move from fringe to mainstream, it is conceivable thatsocial media use and reactions could be used to augment or replace traditional polling. Byunderstanding social media, one may be able to track a candidate’s popularity as well as that of their competition and contribute to a political campaign’s success in the new media age. Variousstudies have shown that social media could be an indicator of election outcomes.
This studyattempts to increase the body of research in examining the relationship between social mediagrowth rates and polling.Over the 6 months prior to the 2012 Republican primaries, many voters have been seeingcampaign messages, debates, and political commentary -- not only through traditional media, butalso on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Voters have been giving instantreactions to the candidates' appearance, words and policies on such platforms. But do candidates’ polling numbers correlate to their effectiveness on the two prominent social networks, Facebook and Twitter? We hypothesized that the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers, alongwith Facebook and Twitter growth rates, correlate with national polling numbers of thecandidates’ likeability and likelihood of winning the 2012 GOP nomination.
This study looked at the total number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers of the followingeight Republican candidates: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman,Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum from June 2011 to December 13, 2011,and the social media growth rates from July 2011 to December 13, 2011.Since most of polling surveys are conducted on a monthly basis, all study data were aggregated by month. The same algorithm by Real Clear Politics
(RCP) was used to calculate average polling numbers. This algorithm takes the average of all polling numbers from the top national polls for the respective month. The averages for candidate Facebook fans and Twitter followersfor each candidate each month were calculated on the last day of that month (except for December).Candidate data were pooled together to perform the analysis, including 55 records of RCP and 56records of the number of Facebook Fans and Twitter followers for the eight Republican
Smith, A. 2011. Twitter and social networking in the 2010 midterm elections. Pew Research.http://bit.ly/heGpQX
Carr, A. 2010. Facebook, twitter election results prove remarkably accurate. Fast Company.http://bit.ly/dW5gxo
Nelson, Hartman and Einhorn. Social Media in the 2010 Election. OhMyGov Inc.http://www.scribd.com/doc/38002542/Social-Media-in-the-2010-Election-OhMyGov-Inc-Research