Did Facebook help Obama win the election?

Barack the Vote

The answer is yes. Among other things, Facebook played a part in Obama’s win. 

Obama utilized social networking and Web 2.0 applications much more than his competitors. For example, in one of my earlier posts on Second Life, I talked about how Obama campaigned on this popular video game. It also appears that Chris Hughes, one of the four founders of Facebook, was Obama’s “online organizing guru” for the campaign. The experience that Hughes has with social networking definitely gave Obama an advantage over others.

If you think about it, Facebook is a great place to target young voters. College students alone make up half of the Facebook audience (source). According to Facebook statistics found on their Web site, there are more than 120 million active users. This makes Facebook one of the most popular, if not the most popular, social media sites in the world. Putting all these young people together gives them opportunities to create groups and other grassroots projects in favor of their candidate. People can connect all over the world to support a single cause. 

Compared to 2004, about 2.2 million more people age 18 to 29-year-olds voted (source). Of these young people who voted, 66 percent preferred Obama and 32 percent favored McCain (source). Of course it’s the messages and ideals of each candidate that wooed the voters but Facebook definitely helped spread these messages as well as helped bring people together. Facebook might have also played a part in getting more people registered to vote.

As a Facebook user myself, I was reminded of deadlines to vote. I received group invitations regarding the elections, and I was sent event invitations to remind me to vote. I’m one of those people who already knew who they were voting for, and I remembered to turn in my ballot in early. For those people who aren’t like me, they were definitely reminded on Facebook and given the opportunity to read plenty of information regarding each candidate and measure. I also saw who my friends were voting for in their information and status updates.

We have learned a lot in this election from the methods that the candidates used. One thing that we will continue to see in years to come is more involvement in social media and social networking. There is no going back now.

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2 Responses to Did Facebook help Obama win the election?

  1. One of the statistics you mentioned was that 66% of people aged 18-29 voted for Obama, whereas 32% voted for McCain.

    I think there is issue putting this statistic to heavy weight because Facebook (at least primarily) target(ed) students with approved university emails.

    Why I bring this up, is this: Statistically speaking, those who have attended a college or university are far more likely to have a liberal political lenience.

    If you were to poll all 18-29 year-old people, not just those using Facebook, you would find a fairly more typical skew (60-40%, 55-45%).

    I’m not completely sure where this rant came from, but I thought I would share. Happy Sunday! 🙂

  2. ninouye says:

    Scott- I appreciate your rant and encourage it!

    I never gave it thought that people who attend a college or university are more liberal, but I do know that the statistic that you are referring to is an exit poll statistic of the general election, not just the people using Facebook.

    If you go to: http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls.main/ and look at the exit polls by age, this is where that information came from.

    In my post, I really wasn’t meaning that Obama won over all the people on Facebook, but that he used Facebook as a tactic to spread his message more than his competitors did. And because of this, it may have led to these exit poll results. Thanks!
    -Niki I.

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