Facebook Mines 2012 Election ‘I’m Voting’ Data

By Jennifer Moire 

Facebook’s Data Science team parsed the 9 million users they say clicked on the I’m Voting application, offering a glimpse into not just who was voting, but sharing, commenting, and liking across Facebook Nov. 6.

For the third election cycle in a row, Facebook published a message at the top of users’ news feeds reminding them to vote. This year, the message provided a link to the Polling Place Locator app, as part of a joint initiative from the Voting Information Project, Microsoft, and Facebook.

The findings were shared via a Facebook note written by Eytan Bakshy of the company’s Data Science department. There were some notable correlations among the data that Facebook uncovered.

Women participate more: More than twice as many women as men shared that they voted via Facebook, as demonstrated via Facebook’s real-time map.  With all of the talk over birth control and abortions by Republican candidates, you might think those issues drove women to the polls. However, Facebook says that women in general share more on Facebook than men. Compared with likes, shares and comments, “voting has the same amount of gender imbalance as we see in other forms of communication,” says Bakshy.

Democrats voted more: Facebook users can include up to 17 different party affiliations on their profile, from “Democratic” to “Apathy.”  Based on the users who clicked “I’m Voting” for each affiliation, Facebook can get a picture of how these beliefs affect voting and the desire to communicate about it. Liberals and Democrats shared their voting status slightly more than Republicans. For example,  people who clicked “I’m Voting”  with “None” as their party affiliation did so only 7.3 percent of the time, while people whose beliefs were “Barack Obama” were 2.5 times more likely at 18.2 percent. Both major parties shared their affiliation more than those without any affiliation.

Mobile-ization: This was the first time people on Facebook could share their votes from their mobile devices. When all the votes were tallied, a full 46.5 percent came from mobile device.s The majority of people age 22 through 38 shared their votes via mobile devices.

Turnout based on celebrity likes: In an interesting correlation of data points, Facebook broke down how fans of popular celebrities used the voting button on Election Day. For example, people who liked first lady Michelle Obama and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan were most likely to click the voting button. African-American celebrities figured prominently on the list, which correlates to the strong turnout among this group on Election Day.

Only 8.6 percent of the U.S. population clicked “I’m Voting” on Facebook last Tuesday, so these results  represent a narrow sampling of voters.

Readers: Did you click on the “I’m Voting” message on Facebook last Tuesday?