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Can Facebook Predict Election Results?

Facebook can help you keep in touch with friends, waste time, share pictures and organize events, but can it also help you predict election results? According to the social networking behemoth, the answer appears to be yes. After analyzing the results of Tuesday's midterm elections and the number of fans of various candidates, it seems that Facebook popularity was a good indicator of impending victory.
The Facebook political team's initial snapshot of 98 House races shows that 74 percent of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests. In the Senate, our initial snapshot of 19 races shows that 81 percent of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests.
Fast Company points out that there are notable exceptions, including high profile eccentrics Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle, which suggests that accumulated fans may correlate pretty strongly with a candidate's public profile, whether that exposure is for exceptional policy ideas or wacky witch-denying ads.

Which brings me to my final point. It's hard to know whether Facebook popularity is the cart or the horse here. Are a lot of fans just a reflection of campaign funding, standing in the polls or media coverage? Whatever is driving the correlation between fan count and winning, checking who is more popular on Facebook is certainly an easy shortcut for political prognosticators compared with digging out campaign finance reports or cross-checking polls. And the fact that plenty of media outlets are interested in Facebook's prediction claims (including this one, of course) attests to the ever increasing clout of social media.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Photos by Morno, CC 2.0)