Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Forecasting Congressional Elections Using Facebook Data

  • Matthew C. MacWilliams (a1)
Abstract

Facebook constantly tracks the growth of each congressional candidate’s fan base and the number of people engaging with candidates online. These Facebook metrics comprise a rich dataset that theoretically may capture the effectiveness of campaigns in building participatory support as well as their potential to mobilize support. When added to electoral fundamentals similar to those used in national-election forecasting, can Facebook data be used to develop a reliable model for predicting vote-percentage outcomes of individual congressional contests? The results of an exploratory investigation reveal that fan participation and mobilization metrics tracked by Facebook produced surprisingly accurate election predictions in the 2012 US Senate races studied. The question remains, however, whether these results are a “flash in the 2012 pan” or an indication that using Facebook statistics to measure campaign effectiveness is a new tool that scholars can use to forecast the outcome of congressional campaigns.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Bollier, D., and Firestone, C. M.. 2010. The Promise and Peril of Big Data. Washington, DC: The Aspen Institute.
Bond, R. M., Fariss, C. J., Jones, J. J., Kramer, A. D. I., Marlow, C., Settle, J. E., and Fowler, J. H.. 2012. “A 61-million-person experiment in social influence and political mobilization.” Nature 489: 295298.
Boyd, D., and Crawford, K.. 2011. “Six Provocations for Big Data.” Social Science Research Network. Available: http://ssrn.com/abstract, 1926431.
Brody, R., and Sigelman, L.. 1983. “Presidential Popularity and Presidential Elections: An Update and Extension.” Public Opinion Quarterly 47 (3): 325328.
Campbell, J. E. 2009. “An Exceptional Election: Performance, Values, and Crisis in the 2008 Presidential Election.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 40 (2): 225246.
Campbell, J. E. 2012a. “Forecasting the 2012 American National Elections.” PS: Political Science and Politics 45 (4): 610613.
Campbell, J. E. 2012b. “Forecasting the Presidential and Congressional Elections of 2012: The Trial-Heat and the Seats-in-Trouble Models.” PS: Political Science and Politics 45 (4):630.
Campbell, J. E. 2014. “Issues in Presidential Election Forecasting: Election Margins, Incumbency, and Model Credibility.” PS: Political Science and Politics 47 (2):301303.
Campbell, J. E., and Garand, J. C.. 2000. “Forecasting US National Elections.” In Before the Vote: Forecasting American National Elections, 316. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Cook, C. 2012. The Cook Political Report.
Duggan, M., and Smith, A.. 2014. “Social Media Update 2013.” Pew Research Center, December 30, 2013. Available online: http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/12/30/social-media-update-2013.
Feezell, J., Conroy, M., and Guerrero, M.. 2009. “Facebook is… Fostering Political Engagement: A Study of Online Social Networking Groups and Offline Participation.” Paper Presented at 2009 APSA Annual Meeting.
Fiorina, M. P. 1978. “Economic Retrospective Voting in American National Elections: A Micro-Analysis.” American Journal of Political Science 22 (2): 426443.
HuffPost, . 2012. HuffPost Pollster Senate Elections 2012.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., and Rice, T. W.. 1992. Forecasting Elections. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., and Stegmaier, M.. 2000. “Economic Determinants of Electoral Outcomes.” Annual Review of Political Science 3 (1): 183219.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., & Stegmaier, M. 2014. “US Presidential Election Forecasting.” PS: Political Science and Politics 47 (2): 284288.
Linzer, D. A. 2014. “The Future of Election Forecasting: More Data, Better Technology.” PS: Political Science and Politics 47 (2): 326328.
Lohr, S. 2012. “The Age of Big Data.” New York Times, February 11, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/sunday-review/big-datas-impact-in-the-world.html.
MacWilliams, M., and Erikson, E.. 2012. “The Facebook Bump.” Politico, November 18, 2012. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/83572.html.
Park, N., Kee, K. F., and Valenzuela, S.. 2009. “Being Immersed in Social Networking Environment: Facebook Groups, Uses and Gratifications, and Social Outcomes. CyberPsychology & Behavior 12 (6): 729733.
Project, P. I. R. (2013). Social Media Update.
Rosenstone, S. J. 1983. Forecasting Presidential Elections. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Sides, J. 2014. “Four Suggestions for Making Election Forecasts Better, and Better Known.” PS: Political Science and Politics 47 (2): 339341.
SocialTimes. (2012). Retrieved from www.insidefacebook.com
Vesnic-Alujevic, L. 2012. “Political participation and web 2.0 in Europe: A case study of Facebook.” Public Relations Review 38 (3): 466470.
Vitak, J., Zube, P., Smock, A., Carr, C. T., Ellison, N., and Lampe, C.. 2011. “It’s complicated: Facebook users’ political participation in the 2008 election.” CyberPsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 14 (3): 107114.
Williams, C., and Gulati, G.. 2008. “What Is a Social Network Worth? Facebook and Vote Share in the 2008 Presidential Primaries.” Paper presented at 2008 APSA Annual Meeting.
Williams, C. B., and Gulati, G. J.. 2007. “Social Networks in Political Campaigns: Facebook and the 2006 Midterm Elections.” Paper presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.
Williams, C. B., & Gulati, G. J. 2009a. “Explaining Facebook Support in the 2008 Congressional Election Cycle.” Working Paper No. 26.
Williams, C. B., & Gulati, G. J. 2009b. “Facebook Grows Up: An Empirical Assessment of its Role in the 2008 Congressional Elections.” Paper presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting: Midwest Political Science Association.
Zhang, W., Johnson, T. J., Seltzer, T., and Bichard, S. L.. 2010. “The Revolution Will be Networked: The Influence of Social Networking Sites on Political Attitudes and Behavior.” Social Science Computer Review 28 (1): 7592.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed