Can the number of likes a candidate has on Facebook indicate their chances of winning the 2011 Canadian Federal election? That’s what the teams at Optimum PR and Dare Labs in Vancouver wanted to find out, so they have joined forces to create The Social Election Experiment (http://www.socialelection.ca).
Since there are now over 16 Million Facebook users in Canada, the teams at Dare and Optimum PR decided to look at Facebook support (“likes”) for candidates in each of the 308 ridings across Canada – in real time. They will be tracking the race dynamically, and showing a snapshot of where each candidate stands in every race across the country and any changes in daily trends.
The experiment was inspired by research published after the 2010 House and Senate Elections in the US. The team at Facebook went back after the election was over to see if support for a candidate on the popular social network translated into real world support in a few key ridings. Their analysis showed that more than 80% of Senate races and 74% of House races could have been accurately predicted based on which candidate was more widely “liked” on Facebook.
“We have decided to keep our methodology very straightforward”, explained David Brodie, Vice President, Western Canada at Optimum PR and former Prime Ministerial advisor. “We’ve identified the nominated candidates for each party and will be measuring the number of likes each gains throughout the race looking for trends. This is the first time anyone has ever tracked an election on Facebook in this much detail, and we are excited to see what the results can tell us about the important role social media plays in both shaping and reflecting public opinion.”
“Our goal is not only to see what is happening throughout the race, but also to encourage all candidates to become more social online” added Angele Beausoleil, VP, Strategy and Innovation Dare North America. “We have added tips on our site explaining how candidates can establish their own presence on Facebook if they don’t already have one, and we hope we can help this become the most social election in Canadian history.”