With the US presidential elections now only four weeks away, candidates are stepping up the usual mudslinging soundbites for replay on the evening news. While that type of back and forth has traditionally alienated many voters, Facebook is doing its best to encourage civic participation by launching a voter registration campaign and enabling candidates to build Facebook pages and Facebook applications to spread their message virally through the site.
A Facebook representative told us today that the Facebook voter registration drive has signed up nearly 40,000 new voters since it launched just 10 days ago. It would take a lot of phone calls and street teams to get that many sign-ups in that short period of time!
However, perhaps more powerfully, the official campaigns, political parties and PACs are using the Facebook Platform as a way to engage hundreds of thousands more voters. Here’s a list of all the major political applications on Facebook, along with their usage numbers and descriptions, sorted by who authorized them.
(For those interested in digging deeper statistically, check out Inside Facebook’s 2008 Facebook Statistics on American Politics.)
- Phonebank – 3,519 monthly active users – Links to the McCain website to allow users to phonebank, or call voters, on behalf of McCain/Palin 08.
- Governor Palin – 16,618 monthly active users – Puts an image of Palin on users’ profiles and directs them to Palin’s Facebook Page.
- Yardsigns – 4,717 monthly active users – Allows you to put an image of a McCain/Palin yardsign on your profile.
- Live Events with John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin – 24,914 monthly active users – Streams videos from McCain/Palin events.
- Absentee Ballots and Early Voting – 3,557 monthly active users – Links to the McCain/Palin absentee and early voting information page.
- Pork Invaders – 18,745 monthly active users – A simple video game (similar to Asteroids) which allows players to shoot at “pork” (wasteful government spending).
- Campaign Cribs – 2,515 monthly active users – The first McCain campaign app – shows a video of the McCain campaign bus the “Straight Talk Express.”
- BarackBook – 770 monthly active users – A satricial take-off on Facebook that ties Obama to several “friends” with opposition research.
- Obama – 135,248 monthly active users – The Obama application launched at F8 and has been revised multiple times since. It is integrated into the campaign’s back-end systems, which allows users to submit contact information, see Obama video content, and invite friends.
- iCanvass – Catalist is a voter file company that has built several applications in conjunction with Nico Networks (which built apps for Hillary Clinton) that allow you to check your voter registration, register to vote, check your friend’s registration, etc. The tool has been used by the Bus Project and Rock the Vote.
- VotePoke – 267 monthly active users – Allows users to check their voter registration status using Catalist and/or register to vote. MoveOn made the mistake of launching this in the summer, when interest in voter registration is lowest.
Rock the Vote
- Action Center – 683 monthly active users – Uses the Catalist iCanvass app framework.
- Online Precinct – 7,945 monthly active users – Allows users to pledge to vote, invite their friends to pledge, and run an online precinct to ensure they vote.
DSCC (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee)
- Stick it to the GOP – 446 monthly users – Allows you to make custom bumper stickers to support Democratic candidates.
It’s clear that although the McCain campaign has tried hard and created several different applications, nothing has gained traction in the same way the Obama app has. Ultimately, as we observed last week,
It’s been well documented at this point that Sen. Barack Obama is much more popular amongst Facebook users than Sen. John McCain. As of this morning, Sen. Obama’s official Facebook page had 1.9 million supporters, compared to Sen McCain’s 540,000.
By contrast, however, Gov. Sarah Palin has a much bigger Facebook following than Sen. Joe Biden. Palin’s Page has over 400,000 supporters on Facebook, compared to Biden’s paltry 150,000. Could Palin be helping McCain eat away at Obama’s dominating lead amongst the Facebook generation?
Ultimately, given Obama’s Facebook popularity thus far, Facebook’s voter drive will register many more Obama voters than McCain voters.
…And as everyone learned in Florida, every vote counts!