Facebook Plays Big Role in Midterms

Social media played a significant role in helping candidates get their messages out in this midterm cycle, according to Facebook. In the wake of Tuesday's results, the social media company examined trends between candidates and the number of fans they had -- and found striking data.

Tracking 98 "hotly contested" House and 34 Senate races, 74 percent of House candidates and 82 percent of Senate candidates with the most fans won their races.

Adam Conner, Facebook's Associate Manager for Public Policy, told CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes that because they were in the minority (up until now), Republicans utilized Facebook to their advantage.

"Republicans embraced this technology to get their message out," Conner told Cordes. "Very similar to how Democrats... used the Internet in 2004, 2006 and 2008 to get their message out."

That embrace was reciprocated by Facebook users, and Conner noted the popularity Republicans received as a result. "We actually saw Republicans, when we tracked close races, had more than double the amount of fans over Democrats, and that was a very telling indicator."

Cordes asked Conner, with all the enthusiasm across social media platforms, like Facebook, why young people didn't get to the polls like in previous years. Conner responded, "With more than 500 millions users, Facebook is now not just something for young people. I'm not as surprised as someone in politics because midterm turnout is an interesting variable, but I do think that it's a warning sign for the Obama coalition in 2012."

Because Facebook isn't just for college kids anymore, candidates are taking to the Internet themselves, creating their own popularity on the web. "You're getting candidates who use this technology themselves, so it's not just someone who assigns a staffer to go out and write on their Facebook wall for them," Conner explained. "They're actually using it and, I think, that's not just a ground shift for candidates but when they actually start governing."

Now that midterms are behind us, for the most part, Conner is looking toward 2012 and the impact Facebook will have on the Presidential election. "What will be more interesting is now that both parties are well aware of the benefits of these technologies, next cycle how will they maximize that."

Watch Friday's Washington Unplugged above also featuring managing editor for The Hill newspaper Bob Cusack and Politic365.com's Charles Ellison on the challenges facing John Boehner as Speaker of the House and Nancy Pelosi's bid for Minority Leader.


Lauren Seifert
Lauren Seifert is an associate producer for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. For more Washington Unplugged, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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