Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Facebook's Look at Which Voters Turned Out Tuesday

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, November 5 2010

As we've discussed, nearly 12 million people clicked Facebook's "I Voted" button on election day Tuesday. The nice thing about being Facebook's in-house data team is that you get to dig through those number and pull out some insights into correlations between those votes and what the clickers also say about themselves on their Facebook profiles. And that's what they've done. There are a healthy number of caveats to keep in mind -- these are people who have self-selected not only to register to their vote, but to be on Facebook in the first place -- and the Facebook number crunchers are aware of them. Still, there's some fun and even education in looking at what we can know about how Facebook America votes.

Including, for example, that Republicans said they'd voted more than their Democratic counterparts on Facebook did, especially amongst older folk:

XX

Facebook's analysis:

The figure above shows the proportion of users in each age bucket who said they voted as a fraction of the people who came to the site yesterday, broken down by political party. If you’re wondering if youth today are apathetic about voting, this graph is striking proof of this fact. The height of voter turnout peaks at 65 years of age, while the lowest turnout occurs at 18 years of age. In fact, a 65 year old is almost 3 times as likely to vote as a younger counterpart.  This tracks results collected from traditional exit polls, which also show a 30% turnout gap between younger voters and older voters.  Furthermore, while Democrats were able to mobilize as many young voters as Republicans, Republicans were far more successful at mobilizing older voters.

(That "as a fraction of the people who came to the site yesterday" distinction jumps out, and it's not clear at first glance what that's used as the population to compare the numbers against. We'll see if we can find out more.)

Another finding, and one that sheds some light on some of the social tools were seeing on online vote reporting, from Organizing for America's "Commit to Vote" Facebook app to Foursquare's "I Voted" badge. In short, you're more likely to vote if your friends vote:

Yes, yes, correlation or causation? The Facebookers are aware. Here's their analysis:

On our election-day display we showed users which of their friends had voted; but how much effect could this have on voter turnout? Could people see their friends voting and go out to do the same? The above plot shows the probability that a person voted yesterday as a function of the fraction of their friends who had voted. As more and more of your friends vote, not surprisingly, you are more likely to vote. Unfortunately, we cannot tell whether this effect is because of social influence, or if voting practice is simply clustered at a local level, but the fact that voting behavior is shared between friends is quite clear.

Intriguing stuff, made possible by the fact that we've chosen to tell Facebook a great deal about ourselves. A simple click on a voting button unlocks all sorts of possibilities when its connected up with the rest of our personal data. If you're into this sort of thing, do dig into the Facebook post on the topic. There's even some great stuff on how likely Giants fans and Rangers fans were to vote in the wake of their World Series final, and the answer might surprise you.

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

First POST: Outgassing

How Beijing is throttling expressions of solidarity with the Hong Kong democracy protests; is the DCCC going overboard with its online fundraising tactics?; SumOfUs's innovative new engagement metric; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

With Vision of Internet Magna Carta, Web We Want Campaign Aims To Go Beyond Protest Mode

On Saturday, Tim Berners-Lee reiterated his call for an Internet Magna Carta to ensure the independence and openness of the World Wide Web and protection of user privacy. His remarks were part of the opening of the Web We Want Festival at the Southbank Centre in London, which the Web We Want campaign envisioned as only the start of a year long international process underlying his call to formulate concrete visions for the open web of the future, going beyond protests and the usual advocacy groups. GO

First POST: Lifestyles

Google's CEO on "work-life balance"; how CloudFlare just doubled the size of the encrypted web; Dems like Twitter; Reps like Pinterest; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Showdown

How demonstrators in Hong Kong are using mobile tech to route around government control; will the news penetrate mainland China?; dueling spin from Dems and Reps on which party's tech efforts will matter more in November; and much, much more. GO

friday >

Pirate MEP Crowdsources Internet Policy Questions For Designated EU Commissioners

While the Pirate Party within Germany was facing internal disputes over the last week, the German Pirate Party member in the European Parliament, Julia Reda, is seeking to make the European Commission appointment process more transparent by crowdsourcing questions for the designated Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society and the designated Vice President for the Digital Single Market. GO

First POST: Dogfood

What ethical social networking might look like; can the iPhone promise more privacy?; how Obama did on transparency; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Sucks

How the FCC can't communicate; tech is getting more political; Facebook might see a lawsuit for its mood manipulation experiment; and much, much more. GO

More