Can Social Media Predict Electoral Outcomes?

In one of our recent newsletters, we looked at data from the US and UK elections, which demonstrated that social media was fairly accurate in determining electoral outcomes: if you had more likes or followers, you usually had more votes as well.

In looking over the outcome of the Monday’s vote, it appears that Twitter was an excellent predictor of electoral outcomes, but Facebook was not as accurate. Leading up to the vote, the Conservatives, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had the most followers by a large margin. The Liberal were in second place, powered largely by Michael Ignatieff’s large number of followers. Interestingly, as May 2nd got closer, Jack Layton and the NDP follower count got closer and closer to the Liberals and actually overtook them on May 3rd.

On Facebook, which was the subject of a number of studies examining the correlation of “likes” and votes, the Liberals dominated throughout the electoral period. If fact, according to most sites tracking the stats, both the Liberals and NDP had far more Facebook fans/likes than the Conservatives. According to the CBC, Ignatieff’s resignation saw his Facebook likes decrease by thousands and Jack Layton now enjoys the most likes of any federal politicians in Canada, at over 72,000.

This news may or may not be welcome for Justin Trudeau and Bob Rae, two potential hopefuls for the Liberal leadership. Mr. Trudeau has the highest number of likes on Facebook, with Mr. Rae in third place. In what certainly illustrates the questionable accuracy of these kinds of stats, the number two spot on Facebook is held by another leadership, albeit from a last election: former leader Stephane Dion.

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