Thursday, October 28, 2010

Weak Link Between Election Polls and Online Social-Networking...

One of the most overhyped and overrated political tools is online social-networking sites.

Both the media and internet zealots love to make statements like, "The internet is changing the face of American politics", or they give political cycles monikers like, "2008 was the YouTube Election; 2010 is the Facebook Election".

Don't buy into the hype.

Statistically speaking, there is only a very weak correlation between a candidate's popularity on social-networking sites and how they do in the polls. Some current examples...

  • Delaware Senate Race

    Christine O'Donnell (R)Chris Coons (D)
    # Facebook Fans25,8099,523
    Real-World Polls40%57%

  • California Senate Race

    Barbara Boxer (D)Carly Fiorina (R)
    # Facebook Fans39,14118,300
    Real-World Polls51%46%

  • Indiana Senate Race

    Dan Coats (R)Brad Ellsworth (D)
    # Facebook Fans4,4228,553
    Real-World Polls57%40%

  • West Virginia Senate Race

    Joe Manchin (D)John Raese (R)
    # Facebook Fans5,5803,873
    Real-World Polls49%49%

If all you saw were these statistics, you're only conclusion would be... Nothing. You can't draw any conclusions about the correlation between social-network popularity and election polls because, strictly going by the numbers, there isn't any.

Sure, if we expand our sample we would likely find that, overall, those candidates with more Facebook Fans tend to perform better in the polls as well. But that's weak at best. The truth is that even when that correlation is present, it's more a reflection of popular sentiment than it is a cause.


Post a Comment

<< Home