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New social media polling data suggests Republican Scott Brown will trounce Democrat Martha Coakley in US Senate Race

January 14, 2010
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Social Media Polling:

The state-wide special election to fill the seat vacated by US Senator Edward Kennedy on January 19th has attracted huge national interest because if the Democrats lose this seat, they lose the filibuster-proof margin they currently have in the US Senate.

For the first time for as long I can remember, my very own home state of Massachusetts is today considered a battleground state. Recent polls show the two candidates, State Senator Scott Brown (Republican) and State Attorney General Martha Coakley (Democrat) engaged in a tight race – well within the margin of error.

  Dates Scott Brown (R) Martha Coakley (D)
Public Policy Polling (PPP) January 7-9 48% 47%
Rasmussen Reports January 11 47% 49%

But being a search marketer, I launched my own investigation to see if I could find out more information about the dynamics of this US Senate race based on internet marketing and social media metrics. The findings (based on data collected on January 14) were staggering. The data suggests that conventional pollsters and Washington insiders have it completely wrong – that it won't be a tight race, and that State Senator Scott Brown will win by a landslide.

Social Media Polling Methodology

In this poll I looked at the three major social media venues – Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – as well as the Alexa Ratings. I used the user engagement metrics that are available from the various sites in order to compare the internet presence of the two candidates.

YouTube Channels

Both candidates prominently feature a link to their respective YouTube channels on their home pages and syndicate television ads and other content on the site. Scott Brown is showing a 10:1 advantage over Martha Coakley in terms of video content viewership.

  Channel Views Total Upload Views Subscribers
Martha Coakley on YouTube 8,561 24,014 58
Scott Brown on YouTube 26,622 223,678 387

Facebook Fan Pages

Facebook fan pages are a great way to connect with people and their networks. Both Scott Brown and Martha Coakley maintain their own Facebook fan pages, which are featured prominently on their homepages. Scott Brown has over a 4:1 edge in terms of number of fans.

  Number of Fans
Martha Coakley Fan Page 9,398
Scott Brown Fan Page 41,050

Twitter Mentions

President Obama famously used Twitter to connect to millions of followers. Both Scott Brown and Martha Coakley employ Twitter to communicate with their fans – again, Scott Brown has the edge. He has more followers, appears on more user lists, and generates more buzz overall on Twitter.

  Followers Listed Twitter Mentions
Martha Coakley on Twitter 2674 236 7210
Scott Brown on Twitter 7105 404 21500

Alexa Rankings

Alexa is an internet ratings company – think "Nielson's ratings for the internet". If the point of all the social media efforts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter is to familiarize people with your brand and drive engagement to your website, and if Scott Brown is doing a better job than Martha Coakley in all the aforementioned social media marketing tactics, you'd expect to see more traffic to his website. And indeed we see that Scott Brown has a tenfold advantage in internet reach (i.e., an estimate of the percentage of internet users that visit their respective websites on any given day). Also noteworthy is rate at which Scott Brown has skyrocketed - in just a week – any conventional pollster will tell you that momentum is everything.

Scott Brown versus Martha Coakley

So in summary, Scott Brown is way ahead in this race, with the following numbers:

  • 10:1 Advantage in YouTube video views
  • 4:1 Advantage in Facebook fans
  • 3:1 Advantage in Twitter mentions
  • 10:1 Advantage in estimated web traffic

Is this Polling Data Valid? Can Social Media Metrics Predict Election Outcomes?

First of all, consider that conventional polling is flawed – they go through the phone book, so they exclude anyone without a land line. This social media polling data also excludes people – namely, those who don't use social media or the web. The question is, who is the more "likely voter", someone with a land line or someone who uses Facebook? I have no idea. I do know this: one day, more people will use social media than land lines - maybe not today, but probably not too far off either.

The social media polling data could simply mean that Scott Brown supporters are more excited about their candidate than Martha Coakley supporters – and even the conventional polling data has picked up on that notion. Clearly underdogs have the most passionate fan base (think crazy RedSox fans pre-2004).

Then there's the effect of non-Massachusetts residents (who can't vote in this election) affecting the social media engagement metrics – though as far as I can tell, the Senate race has attracted the attention of national special interest groups on both sides of the political spectrum. But are non-Massachusetts special interest groups and their followers 3 to 10 times more likely to be interested in Scott Brown than Martha Coakley?

It could be that the average Coakley supporter doesn't use the internet or social media venues as much as the average Scott Brown supporter. Again: is it plausible that her supporters use social media 3 to 10 times less?

It's also noteworthy to point out that in November 2008, Alexa had Barack Obama with an estimated five times larger Web presence over John McCain – and President Obama was famous for his success in connecting with the electorate over Twitter, YouTube and Facebook – and he won that election in a landslide.

In summary, while the data might not be complete, all available signs in the Social Media sphere currently point to a pretty strongly to a win by Scott Brown next week.

What are your thoughts? Post them in the comment fields below.

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Comments

Larry, This is excellent data but not exclusive to Massachusett(e)s, as you stated. While there is desperation on both sides of the political spectrum I believe a lot of this traffic is the result of an energized conservative base, largely out-of-state. I would be shocked if Martha Coakley didn't win by five-plus points.

Larry Kim
Jan 15, 2010

Thanks Tom. I think that is one of the most surprising aspects of this social media survey data - that there seems to be a disconnect between what the political pundits/polls are saying/believing and what is actually happening in the social media sphere - that social media indicators point to the race not being close at all.

Richard (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

Social Media as Predictor of Outcome? Maybe Larry, as I read your blog I kept asking myself, "Will Larry mention the non-Massachusetts factor in social media?". And of course you did. For Twitter, Facebook, and Alexa, I don't know of any feature they have for showing Massachusetts only Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or website traffic. So no one knows for sure how much "Massachusetts only" social media traction one candidate has over another. But it's fun to speculate on Massachusetts Jan 19 senatorial election.

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

The data may not be only from Mass. but it shows a good cross section. I would say this is good data. How would the web use in Mass. be any different than the rest of the country. If this is how America view it than this is probably how Mass. rolls.

DanM (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

I have always been interested in using search and social media data to forecast events like elections. A couple other analysis points that could be interesting: - Twitter & Youtube/Facebook content analysis (i.e. Is Scott Brown getting a lot of mentions online that are favorable or negative?) - Geo-targeted PPC Campaign - If you did a geotargeted PPC campaign just for MA visitors on their names and looked at impressions you could get a feel for the out of state influence.

Larry Kim
Jan 14, 2010

If i was a online marketing manager for a political candidate in a state election, i would run ads on both my candidate's name and the challenger's name. I would organize the account so that i had at least 2 campaigns - one geo-targeted campaign for in-state, and another geo-targeted for the rest of the country. By looking at the in-state impression and click data for my candidate versus the challenger, i could get a sense of how the race was trending over time.

All this would be largely irrelevant if it didn't match up to yard signs on the ground in Massachusetts and comments to articles in the Massachusetts papers. The on-the-ground metrics are pretty much the same as the Twitter/Facebook stats you mention here. Yard signs for Brown all over the place--they've run out and then run out again. People are actually stealing Brown signs--not to destroy them (which happens all too often) but because one Brown supporter lives on a busier street than another! The last time I saw this kind of enthusiasm was after the Red Sox won game 4 against the Yankees in 2004. It could happen again!

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

I am an out of state volunteer and am thrilled that the yard sign is working so well. Your comment is full of encourage for all of us everywhere! Go Brown Brigadiers!

Larry Kim
Jan 14, 2010

funny you mentioned the red sox - in my article, i wrote that i thought that: "underdogs have the most passionate fan base (think crazy RedSox fans pre-2004)."  :P

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

I was finally able to get a Brown yard sign today. In the five minutes we were outside placing it, almost every driver passing (at least a dozen)honked and gave a thumbs up or wave in support. I have been on the Scott Brown fan page on facebook for months. When I joined its membership was at about 4-5,000. As of Tuesday, it was 30,000. Right now he is at over 46,000. If that doesn't show momentum, I don't know what does!

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

Where did you get the sign??? I want two!

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

The result will depend entirely on turnout. If highly motivated unenrolled voters turnout heavily for Brown, the Dems enrollment advantage evaporates. All polls show unenrolled voters favoring Brown in variably large degrees.

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

MANY registered MA DEMS are NOT voting for Coakley, so how does that number fit into the equation?

Jon Strabala (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

I just love to see this type of creative thinking - applying new tech to real world situations.

Fascinating concept, why don't you go back in time and analyze Doug Hoffman NY 23 Congressional district run and then look at the real outcome and build a "model" with corrections. Who knows by applying a bit of correlation, you might be able to create the new "polling" of the next century.

Regards Jon Strabala

Larry Kim
Jan 14, 2010

Thanks Jon - my sense is that there has to be some meaning that can be extrapolated from all these social media engagement statistics - after all, isn't that the point of an election -- to try to generate buzz and enthusiasm for your candidate and their ideas which somehow translates into voter turnout? I'm not sure how exactly buzz translates to votes, but i'm clearly seeing a lot of buzz in the social media sphere.

jim (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

Does anyone else see this potentially gaping flaw in the data: the elderly, many of whom don't view YouTube, don't have Facebook pages and don't Tweet. Some don't even have computers (my mother-in-law). One thing the elderly DO traditionally do, is vote. And in Massachusetts they overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Still, on the ground, there is no doubt that the Brown campaign is a sensation. What's refreshing is that every Brown supporter I've run in to (and I've run into a LOT of Brown supporters this week)are passionately driven by issues, especially health care -- not Brown's good looks or his family or the fact he's a Republican. As for my computer-less mother-in-law? She's got bursitis and has trouble walking. But come Tuesday she says she will hobble over to her polling place and cast a vote for... Brown.

supporter from ... (not verified)
Jan 16, 2010

Remember that older voters are also aware of what a trashing they are going to get with Obama-care, and will vote Brown in their best interests. I have never been involved in politics until now and sent Brown $25--hope it bought a bunch of yard signs.

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

All a conservative from PA like me can hope for is that Scott Brown wins. There are few of my friends in in this little so central PA town who have sent money to his campaign. We all know what is at stake here... the little freedoms that we still have stay in tact and take our country back. To hell with political correctness and the whole lot!

BFFG (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

The enthusiasm in Mass is great for Brown. People like his authentic approach. If you saw the interview that Hannity did with him and tryed to get him to label himself as a "Regan Conservative" Brown wouldn't bite. He has been very intelligent and authentic in his approach. It is like a return the the idealism of what politics is supposed to be about. Martha has gone negative, moved away from her record and begun to personally attack Brown. Brown is not a typical republican he is his own man, his own approach his own convictions. The independents like me definitely are flocking to him because it is refreshing and not more of the same BS. What is revealing to me from all of the commentary above is the enthusiasm. I drove from Portsmouth New Hampshire today to the south shore and I saw two separate vehicles that had basically painted scott Brown for Senate on their windows. It's like "Class of 2010" for graudating seniors. It looks to me like a 5 to 7 point victory for Brown.

Hiawatha W (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

I'd like to come back after the election and see how accurate your prediction is. Another factor I consider is the quality of each candidate's internet presence. Scott Brown's website has energizing youtube videos on the main page, while Martha Coakley's is very old-school, difficult to search, and somewhat boring.

Larry Kim
Jan 14, 2010

You're right - Coakley's content might not be as engaging as Brown's, and that could potentially result in lower social media engagement numbers. And I suspect the fact that Brown is featuring his daughters (including former American Idol star, Ayla Brown) in many of the YouTube videos isn't hurting his social media engagement numbers either.

Hiawatha W (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

Very interesting idea. Scott Brown is certainly generating more buzz - sometimes (as in the case of Obama) that's an accurate predictor of results. But other times (like with 3rd party candidates) it isn't and the final tally can be very small. I'd like to come back after the election and see how accurate your prediction is. Another factor I consider is the quality of each candidate's internet presence. Scott Brown's website has energizing youtube videos on the main page, while Martha Coakley's is very old-school, difficult to search, and somewhat boring. If she loses it's really her own fault.

Larry Kim
Jan 14, 2010

Indeed- often the smallest dogs have the loudest bark. We'll find out what's going on soon enough next week!

Gabriel (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

Everything point to a political change in the wind for Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown, with only 5 days left, the word is spreading and the Independent voters are making the switch to the Republican party, they will help Scott carry the state, for the first time in over forty years, there will finally be a two party representation for the citizen of Massachusetts. While the win is not concrete, the last few months of the Obama administration, its back-room deals to shove these new so-called "social-responsible agenda's" on the backs of unemployed Americans is OVER! As a preacher once said "the chickens have come to roost" The answer to the changing face of politics is Scott Brown, a fresh look at a party with much to do to gain the respect and trust of the American people. But, it will take time, it will happen in the coming months, with the mid-term elections, key members of the Obama team will find themselves out of a job, having to work for a living, the the rest of us. The re is an opportunity for change, and next Tuesday - Scott Brown will forever change the face of Massachusetts politics and that of this American Nation, for it is "for the people, by the people", that we shall prevail. Send the message loud and clear - "Can you hear me now?" Vote for change, vote for the future of this great Nation!

[...] Wordstream. A media polling org who suggests that Scot Brown(R-MA) will win a a landslide. Poll: Scott Brown to Win Massachusetts US Senate Race by a Landslide | WordStream It appears Scott gets more views than Coakley, period and outnumbers 1 to 10 on youtube. And was [...]

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

most of the people that think coakley is gonna win by alot or at all are probably not in the state of mass every three houses in my town has a scott brown sign in front of it i have yet to see a martha coakley sign.

Tom (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

That is so awesome! I hope he wins. The people of Massachusetts can bring freedom back to our country. I hope the state I live in, New York, follows suit with our two Senators. God bless Massachusetts!

Debbe Makowski (not verified)
Jan 14, 2010

The seat Ted Kennedy held should have been changed many years ago, I am all for term limits. This is not his seat, it is the seat belonging to the people. Our country needs new ideas, change is good, especially in politics where politicians become too comfortable and corrupt. Voting results of our politicians is the only way to bring about laws, policies, rules, regulations, programs, etc. BUYING, BRIBING, PAYING OFF, for a politcians vote makes my stomach turn. This current administration is the most corrupt (CHICAGO POLITICS) and we MUST vote them ALL out in order to save our future and for the safety of our citizens! You go Mr. Brown, you have my vote!

Fred Anderson (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

My local Democratic rep. in the U.S. House, who has a background in health care, has asked some intelligent questions about some aspects of the proposed health care bill. For this the Party faithful seem to have organized a belligerent campaign to destroy him. Our representatives should be responsive to us, not to the Party bosses. The thuggish actions by the Democratic Party against my representative, say that these people are unfit to govern us. Ms. Coakley may be a fine person, but the bosses will not allow her to speak honestly for our interests. If we want representation, we have no choice but to vote for somebody else. (Chatham homeowner)

Speaking of campaigns: I will raise $2 million dollars for Governor Sarah Palin if she runs for the White House and I hope you will join me in doing all you can to eject this current disgrace and obvious failure from the Oval Office as soon as we can.

RoBoTech (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

"Does anyone else see this potentially gaping flaw in the data: the elderly" Well, you may be right. BUT, I AM elderly and live in Mass. MOST of the people I know are elderly (58 +). I only know two ladies that will vote for Coakley. MOSt elderly I know are dead against Obabacare and will vote for Brown. And here's another thing. the elderly, VOTE!

RoBoTech (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

Oh, and another thing, most Elderly I know use the internet frequently and luv it, and some use SKYPE a lot. We have cell phones, but I don't know much about Twitter. And another interesting thing, even the Democrats I know will vote for Brown. Besides Obamacare it's that Democrat Mantra, "it's Kennedy's Seat" that is REALLY angering the elderly in my area. It's NOT Kennedy's seat, it's not the Democrat's seat, it's the people of Mass's seat. I believe Brown said that already in the last debate, and we cheered when he did.

Don (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

If these metrics were indicative, Ron Paul would have been the GOP nominee for president.

Marvin Foster (not verified)
Jan 16, 2010

Actually, I think that Ron Paul would have made a great president. For one thing, he didn't need to scam us taxpayers to get rich, he already had more money than most of could ever imagine. I will always believe that he quit his campaign because of threats to his family. And as we all know there are ome very corrupt people in Washington and around the World that would stop at nothing to keep an honest person from being President of our United States.

I think that Mr.Scott Brown is going to win the Election. John Connor.

[...] Inc. believes Scott Brown is going to win the election by a landslide, based on a study of social media.”The findings were staggering. The data suggests that conventional pollsters and Washington [...]

Nicholas Hildyard (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

I found this report to be extremely intuitive. If this data is combined with traditional polling and the obvious fact that there is a strong opposition to the Dem's agenda then Coakley is indeed in trouble. Finally. Somebody may control the insanity, because it certainly won't stop.

According to http://realclearpolitics.com Obama won by 7.3%. Maybe its not a landslide, but it's a healthy margin. The consensus polling was 7.6%, off by 0.3%. In Massachusetts, Obama won by 25.8%. The consensus polling was 21.3%, off by 4.5%.

Linsey Lansford (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

Where the Obama's and Far left Dems go, Acorn is sure to follow ! According to the word on the ground in Massachusetts, the Dems have ordered Bill Clinton, The kenndys and many other to assist Coakley. And in other reports Acorn may team up with SEIU to of course "GET OUT THE VOTE". I just wonder how many times will the late Ted Kennedy actually cast a vote. This election fraud and vote rigging must be stopped.

Holly Wonder (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

I would encourage you to go back and review social media on Doug Hoffman race in NY 23, with poll results. It would also be helpful to partition users of Social Media by State, if you run several past races and correlation the results, I believe you could build a new model. Very interesting analysis. H Wonder

Henry Knoblock (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

The Social Media is encouraging but the ballot box is the only thing that counts in the end. I have known Scott for 26 years - since law school - he is honest, sincere, extremely hard working and in a phrase "he gets it." The man you see and hear on TV, the radio and You Tube is the guy you will be electing as our next US Senator. Martha Coakley, aka the ice queen, has yet to make her case as to why she should be dog catcher much less a United States Senator. She has yet to run an ad about what she thinks (perhaps the Taliban have snuck back in to Afghanistan since Monday Martha - you could admit you were wrong but then talking about being wrong would mean talking about the botched Louise Woodward case and Fells Acres Day Care). Her attack ads on Scott make claims about Scott which border on fantastic fiction (he is not pro-life and has never been - I know I tried to change his mind). The number of absentee ballots being pulled is a sign in the right direction but everyone from Massachusetts - get out there on Tuesday and vote, send a message to Washington and elect Scott as our next US Senator from Massachusetts.

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

It is time for all conservative MA voters to get out and be poll watchers and make sure that ACORN and SEIU don't load up the votes. VOTERS NEED TO GET INVOLVED WITH THEIR VOTES!

avery (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

This is encouraging, but I urge all MA voters to put the pedal to the metal for these last days and Do Not Let Up! Please help your friends and neighbors get to their polling places and be ready to demand Senator Brown is seated promptly! No funny business!

avery (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

This is encouraging, but I urge all MA voters to put the pedal to the metal for these last days and Do Not Let Up! Please help your friends and neighbors get to their polling places and be ready to demand Senator Brown is seated promptly! No funny business!

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

I'm not ashamed to say that I have not voted in years and for good reason, in the State of Massachusetts I felt whats the point. It's a Democratic state and the vote will end up as such, year in and year out. Tuesday will be the first time in 14 years that I will make my way to the polls and it isn't because a Republic has a chance. See I'm an independent and I most certainly understand what the consequences of electing an official with little knowledge of not only what's taking place in the Mideast, but also what's going on right here in our country. Her idea of fair and just healthcare is outrageous and I can only pray that enough people in Massachusetts understand just whats at stake. From me and everyone that I know, GO BROWN!!!

Rick in NH (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

I live in NH, but I want to move this weekend just to vote in MA for Brown. This is so exciting!

Rick in NH (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

Yes! Brown!

Dave (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

I hope this is correct but the obvious major flaw is that you don't know if these social media followers are registered Massachusetts voters. They could literally be anywhere in the world. Brown supporters, please don't get complacent. You still need to VOTE.

Anonymous (not verified)
Jan 15, 2010

I am ashamed to say I have never voted in 44 years. BUT! I made it a point this year to register to become a Massachusetts voter!! I am proud to say I will be voting for Scott Brown and praying that God will Spare the state of Massachusetts along with the rest of the world. Sad as it is Mr.President may have his own agenda for visiting the state of Massachusetts, But God's agenda is GREATER. I will be praying for the will of God to prevail and I would ask that other christians around the world would pray the same.

Kim Thurman (not verified)
Jan 16, 2010

Larry, thank you for a very creative analysis. And thank you Massachusetts for showing the rest of the Nation that WE can come together regardless of our party affiliation or racial background, do the right thing and vote for the right person. Brown is representative of who we want in Congress. Now we need to just go State by State and clean out dead meat regardless of their party affiliation. We've got your back in Idaho. Go Scott Brown Go!!!!!

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