Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Facebook and Twitter General Election




RCP % Avg
Facebook Followers
FB Engaged
Engagement Rate
Twitter Followers AUG
Hillary Clinton (D)
43.6
5,547,499
1,295,347
23.4
8,337,769
Donald Trump (GOP)
37.4
10,330,409
1,830,303
17.7
10,951,732
Gary Johnson (L)
8.5
1,136,694
722,290
63.5
296,212
Jill Stein (G)
3
516,508
246,290
47.7
209,567
Hal Boyd (I)






With the dust finally settled from the conventions, the poll numbers in the general election should be fairly stable now (depending on the next Trump gaffe).  I thought I would take a look at the state of the race in relation to the social media and the third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.  Former CIA Operative Hal Boyd has announced an independent bid for the White House but at of this writing I was unable to find any polls, Facebook Pages, or Twitter profiles for him. 

As I did in the primaries, I looked at the Real Clear Politics Poll Averages (RCP) for the four candidates and looked at how they correlate with their respective following and engagement on Facebook and Twitter.  Facebook provides numbers of their following and engagement (those who click on, like and or share their posts) while Twitter provides numbers on their following.  

At the top of the post is the raw data for the analysis.  Below are the correlation coefficients for each social media variable and the candidates respective RCP polling average.  Of the four variables, the number of twitter followers was most strongly correlated with poll support at 0.94 (correlations are on a scale from -1 to +1). The correlation for the FB engagement rate is negative because Johnson and Stein have much higher numbers of followers engaged with their posts relative to their total followers than Clinton and Trump.  



RCP % Avg
Facebook Followers
0.84
FB Engaged
0.88
FB Engagement Rate
-0.89
Twitter Followers AUG
0.94
 

The graph below shows the relationship between the Twitter followings of the candidates and their poll averages.  The r-square statistic of 0.89 says that 89% of the variability in the poll numbers is accounted for by the number of followers.   According to the website Twitteraudit.com, 62% of Clinton's supporters are real, 59% of Trump's are, 62% of Johnson's, and 92% of Stein's are real.  

Of course those who follow a candidate may not necessarily support a candidate.  For the Facebook following of Donald Trump, of the 19 friends of mine who follow his page, I counted at least 6 who I'm pretty sure are not voting for him.  For Hillary Clinton's page, of 58 friends of mine who follow her page, I did not see any who would not be voting for her (Facebook does not provide the names of all the friends).  For Gary Johnson, 22 of my friends like his page, but I'm not sure which are actually voting for him.  67 of my Facebook friends like Jill Stein's page and I'm not sure how many are voting for her.


I don't have data on how Johnson and Stein's social media profiles have grown since February.  I hope to have that information in a few months.  However, I do have that information for Trump and Clinton.  Clinton had a 75.4% increase in her Facebook following while Trump had a 48.1% increase.  Trump had a 44.1% increase while Clinton had a 40.4% increase.  The rest of their numbers are presented below along with the RCP averages for a two way race for Clinton and Trump. 




RCP % Avg (2 way)
Facebook Followers
FB Followers April
FB Gain
% chg FB
Twitter Followers AUG
Twitter Apr
Twitter gain
% chg Twitter
Hillary Clinton (D)
47.7
5,547,499
3,163,408
2,384,091
75.4
8,337,769
5,940,469
2,397,300
40.4
Donald Trump (GOP)
41.0
10,330,409
6,976,226
3,354,183
48.1
10,951,732
7,597,603
3,354,129
44.1

As I've stated before, it is a chicken-egg problem whether or not the popularity comes before the large social media following or vice versa?  Regardless of which came first having a large social media following gives a candidate a cheap way of communicating with their core supporters.  Trump may have an advantage in social media but the other candidates have higher levels of engagement among their followers.

A post from the website qz.com argues that Facebook posts do not change friends opinions on the candidatesThe numbers that they present in support of their arguments are very small.  Of course those who follow a page are interested in what they have to say.  When they share posts with their friends they encourage discussion.  It takes a lot more than posts or commercials to get people to change their mbut it can influence those who are undecided.

  **Related Posts**

What Effect Do 3rd Parties Have on Trump and Clinton? 

Facebook Primary 2016, August Update, Does it Predict Support?

Facebook and Twitter Primary: The Final Five