How Much Does Social Media Factor Into Elections?

Reports are already coming out that Hillary Clinton is poised to win Iowa based on sheer social media numbers based off of Facebook activity alone. Interactions from the state of Iowa totaled around 268,000 for Clinton from April 8 to April 14, shortly before she embarked on her campaign trip across the state. Of those 268,000 interactions, 57 percent of them were positive. Clinton is the only confirmed Democrat candidate for the 2016 election and appears to be a shoe-in if social media is any indication, compared to numbers for Vice President Joe Biden, which hovered around 3,000 Facebook interactions in Iowa during the same time span.According to a Gallup survey of national adults based on political affiliation just the week prior to Facebook's numbers, Clinton has been ranked favorably by 81 percent of Democrats. Given the fact that Clinton is still in her early phases of campaigning in Iowa, numbers have yet to be released specific to the state itself regarding her approval, though overall numbers via HuffPost Pollster shows that Clinton has a 47.9 percent favorable rating nationwide compared to Biden's 41.4 percent favorable rating. While Clinton's name has ubiquitous with national elections since back in 2008, it appears that her social media numbers are far more beefed up than her current approval.


Within the scope of Clinton versus prominent GOP candidates who've already announced their plans to run for president, Clinton yet again trumps the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Looking at national numbers provided by Facebook following Clinton's presidential announcement, nearly 5 million users had something to say about her campaign launch. Cruz's numbers were less than half of Clinton's, with slightly more than 2 million users sharing the news of his campaign on Facebook. Conversely, Rand Paul received just 865,000 users taking to social media regarding his presidential plans.

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According to Public Policy Polling, despite Clinton's numbers declining ever-so-slightly in the face of Republican candidates, she appears to be not only the frontrunner of Democrat candidates but appears to be consistently beating GOP candidates based on head-to-head match-ups the PPP conducted during the last week of March. Those numbers are especially unique in the face of outspoken candidates like Paul. "There are also still a lot of Republicans who have deep enough concerns about him [Paul] that they’re not even sure they prefer him to Hillary Clinton," said PPP president Dean Debnam.

While it still feels too early to tell if social media can provide the type of precise election predictions that reputable sources like PPP and Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight can through detailed polling and hard data, it appears that the election is in the bag for Clinton — at least in the eyes of most Facebook users.

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