(David Mack) With the mid-term elections only a few short days away, candidates are scrambling for any possible gains. Since its major debut in the 2008 elections, Facebook has grown as an inexpensive platform that many candidates are hoping will deliver the edge in competitive races.
We know that Facebook helped to turn out the vote in 2008, registering almost 60,000 voters. More than 1 million Americans used the service to find their polling location and more than 5.5 million users helped drive turnout by telling friends “I Voted” on Facebook.
On Election Day 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama had more than 2 million fans, a number that has grown to more than 13 million. Senator John McCain had 625,000 fans, and Sarah Palin had more than 500,000. Today, the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee maintain vibrant Facebook pages with thousands of fans.
In addition to individual candidates and parties, Facebook has grown as a tool for specific political and social causes. In the run-up to Election Day 2008, nearly 1 million people used a Facebook application to remind friends to vote. Independent groups like “Rock the Vote” used the platform to register more than 50,000 new voters.
The expectation is that the services’ growth and maturation in the past two years will make it an even more powerful tool in 2010. Tools like Facebook’s own Politics page and U.S. Congress page have been added to facilitate conversation and activism from both sides.
And, starting this election, Facebook began distributing an analysis of activity by candidates in the most competitive races. Links to the most recent updates that cover House, Senate and Gubernatorial races can be found here.
Key findings from the top Senate races are below. We’ll check back in after the election to see how good Facebook activity is at predicting 2010 election results.
Gaining Momentum (Largest increase of fans since last week)
1. Sharron Angle (Republican/Nevada) +6,767
2. Ron Johnson (Republican/Wisconsin) +6,278
3. Dino Rossi (Republican/Washington) +2,178
4. Rand Paul (Republican/Kentucky) +1,913
5. Carly Fiorina (Republican/California) +1,588
Top Landslides (Biggest fan gap between opponents)
1. Florida: Mark Rubio (R) +106,754 more fans than Kendrick Meek (D) and +100,789
more fans than Gov. Charlie Crist (I)
2. Nevada: Sharron Angle (R) +88,266 more fans than Sen. Harry Reid (D)
3. Kentucky: Rand Paul (R) +73,889 more fans than Jack Conway (D)
4. Washington: Dino Rossi (R) +29,540 more fans than Sen. Patty Murray (D)
5. Louisiana: Sen. David Vitter (R) +29,273 more fans than Charlie Melancon (D)
Top Posters (Most campaign wall posts in the past week)
1. Rep. John Boozman (Republican/Arkansas) - 45
2. Sen. Harry Reid (Democrat/Nevada) - 42
3. Christine O'Donnell (Republican/Delaware) - 41
4. Rep. Joe Sestak (Democrat/Pennsylvania) - 34
5. Kendrick Meek (Democrat/Florida) - 31