Social Media in Election 2010: More Than Just Online Campaigning

BlogHer Original Post

Now that the dust has settled after Election Day 2010, those of us who spend our days online get to pick apart if social media made a difference.

The short answer: of course it did.

You can no longer run any sort of campaign for any office without some sort of online presence. But this cycle it was more than sheer campaigning that took the headlines.

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 2: Samoine Chapman snaps a cell phone photo of her daughter Giada Chapman, 3, wearing an 'I Voted' sticker on her cheek, after voting at The Potter's House Church November 2, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The church is located in Arapahoe County, traditionally a conservative area though during the last election the county was carried by the Democrats. It is considered a bellweather county and will likely end up playing a pivotal role in which direction the state ends up voting. Chapman said this is the second time she has brought her daughter to the polling place hoping to teach her about the voting process. She said Giada remarked 'Mommy, I voted for Obama' as she went through the process this time around. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

Google and Polling Places

At some point while we were all out voting, word came down that Google was sending people to the wrong polling place.

A study Tuesday by Aristotle, a political technology company, predicts that more than 700,000 households in a collection of 12 battleground states may have experienced errors on the site that told them to head to the wrong polling stations.

The tool itself was pretty cool: You type in your address and Google sent you to your polling place. A great idea to get out the vote- if it's working properly.

Facebook Wins Elections?

The social networking giant released a note speculating that Facebook popularity means EVERYTHING:

The Facebook political team's initial snapshot of 98 House races shows that 74% of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests. In the Senate, our initial snapshot of 19 races shows that 81% of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests.

TechPresident's Nancy Scola dives a bit deeper into these numbers:

But dig in a bit, and there's evidence to support the idea that Facebook fan tallies aren't really all that illuminating in particularly close races -- the ones where indicators of support might help make us look smarter as we try to figure out who's going to win what. In Nevada, for example, Senate candidate Sharron Angle trounced Harry Reid when it comes to Facebook. When it came to the voting booth, she lost.

CNN breaks down the Facebook phenomenon:

Republican candidates are beating Democratic candidates by a better than two-to-one margin in the number of Facebook fans as of Election Day.

Before the polls opened on Tuesday, Democrats in all the House, Senate and gubernatorial races had a total of 1,444,992 fans compared with the Republicans' 3,459,799 Facebook fans. There were 51,130 fans for independent candidates running this year. These numbers are according to AllFacebook.com, a Web site that tracks 18 million Facebook pages.

Also worth noting: Facebook voting check-ins. When I woke up on voting day and logged into Facebook, there it was: the I VOTED badge. Did you get yours?

Election Traffic

And then there is the big take away: Tuesday's election TOPPED 2008 in terms of internet traffic.

President Obama's election in 2008 was historic. But in terms of internet traffic, Tuesday's midterm election was more popular, according to the internet traffic monitor Akamai Technologies.

As election results rolled in Tuesday night -- with Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives -- internet traffic spiked at a high of 5.7 million page views per minute, according to Akamai.

By comparison, Obama's presidential election in November 2008 saw a traffic high of about 4.3 million page views per minute, according to the company's Net Usage Index, which measures traffic to major news websites.

Which basically means we all did something online during this election -- be it finding our polling place, researching a candidate, giving money to a candidate, or simply clicking "I Voted" on Facebook.

Elections are now, undoubtedly, a virtual experience.

Politics & News Contributing Editor Erin Kotecki Vest

BlogHer is non-partisan but our bloggers aren't. Follow our coverage of the 2010 Midterm Elections and News & Politics.

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