The 2014 Midterm Elections On Facebook

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, October 28, 2014

With the 2014 U.S. midterm elections coming up in just a few days, candidates are in the midst of the final stages of their campaigns. Of course, social media as a platform has been playing a huge role in campaigning leading up to election day as politicians encourage the public to cast their votes. House, Senate, and gubernatorial candidates alike are vying for the attention of their fans.

The View from Above

Based on Facebook data we’ve been collecting, the Democratic Party and Republican Party find themselves nearly neck-and-neck when it comes to the total number of interactions (the sum of all Likes, Comments and Shares) candidates from each party are receiving. Over 1,000 candidate Pages were tracked from Sept. 28 through Oct. 27, 2014, and they indicate that the total number of interactions the Democratic Party has received is 4,933,639, while the Republican Party comes close with 4,727,540. (Meanwhile, Independent candidates follow with a sum total of 80,043 interactions.)

Winning Posts

So the Democratic and Republican parties might find themselves close in terms of overall interactions on Facebook, but which specific candidates are winning the popular vote for what they’re posting? To find out, we looked into the top candidate posts by sum of interactions for each party.

Across both parties, the winning post ingredient seems to showcasing the human side of the candidate. Al Franken's post, for example, features him celebrating his anniversary with his wife, while Greg Abbott's post is an image of him with Chuck Norris. Furthermore, all of the top posts included images.

The top four Democratic Party candidate posts:

1. Wendy Davis, Gubernatorial candidate for Texas — Oct. 15, 2014

2. Al Franken, Senate candidate for Minnesota — Oct. 2, 2014

3. Cory Booker, Senate candidate for New Jersey — Oct. 11, 2014

4. Alison Grimes, Senate candidate for Kentucky — Oct. 15, 2014

The top four Republican Party candidate posts:

1. Paul Ryan, House candidate for Wisconsin — Oct. 1, 2014

2. Greg Abbott, Gubernatorial candidate for Texas — Oct. 22, 2014

3. John Cornyn, Senate candidate for Texas — Oct. 10, 2014

4. Scott Walker, Gubernatorial candidate for Wisconsin — Oct. 8, 2014 

Topics of Discussion

As the midterm elections draw close, candidates’ social feeds are abuzz with all the hot-button political topics. We took a close look at the keywords used in candidates’ Facebook posts during the time period of Oct. 16 through Oct. 22, 2014.

For gubernatorial candidates, education was among the most-discussed topics. Democratic candidates were especially vocal about the topic with 16% of all of their posts (78 posts in total) containing the keywords “education” or “schools.” Meanwhile, 4% of all Republican candidate posts (25 posts in total) featured either of those keywords.

For Senate and House candidates, posts dealing with the economy or employment keywords (“economy,” “economic,” “employment,” “jobs”) were the most prevalent. 5% of Democratic Senate candidate posts and 6% of Democratic House candidate posts featured such keywords, while 6% of Republican Senate candidate posts and 7% Republican House candidate posts did. 

Interestingly enough, Ebola was discussed in higher volume by Republican candidates than by Democratic candidates, with 155 posts by Republican House and Senate candidates containing the keyword “Ebola” versus 25 of such posts by Democratic House and Senate candidates. 

The Bottom Line

While the actual outcomes of the 2014 midterm elections are yet to be seen, Facebook activity indicates that candidates from all parties are campaigning heavily into the home stretch. With over 1,000 candidates running for various positions, and control of two-thirds of government up for grabs, it’s still anybody’s race.

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