Friday, November 23, 2012

Online Social Networks: Main Predictors of US Presidential Election Results?

Given that they eerily seem to uncannily predict the results of the 2012 US Presidential Elections, are online social media networks just became the new election prognosticators?

By: Ringo Bones

Statistician Nate Silver may have created a mathematical algorithm that uncannily predicted President Obama’s victory more accurately than “traditional” political pundits but in hindsight, are online social media networks are now better at prognosticating election results compared to the previous US Presidential Elections four years ago? Does this mean that the “digital native” generation who has just became old enough to vote back in the November 6, 2012 US elections just became the new “Swing State” in America?

Months prior to the 2012 US Presidential Elections, President Obama and his Democratic Party had been very busy winning fans in the online social media world of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other leading social media sites on the internet – while challenger Mitt Romney’s Republican Party seems to be “sitting on the fence” when it comes to winning voters in the online social media scene. Though many tenured analysts now point out that recent – but gradual - demographic shifts in the American electorate may be the true culprit on why the Republican Party challenger lost to the Democrat incumbent – as in the Republicans tend to stick to its core cause of promoting white-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant values at the expense of the basic rights of Americans of non-white Anglo Saxon ethnicity. Does this mean that online social network sourced “Big Data” may now be the new “Crystal Ball” when it comes to predicting future election results?

According to Charles Duhigg – author of The Power of Habit – traditional political pundits should now look into the “predictive” importance of online social network big data during election time and the role of shame and social pressure on the shifting demographic makeup of the American voting landscape. To the “internet novice”, the term “Big Data” is a form of data created when an online user uses a credit card when buying something via the internet, or when expressing their likes and dislikes by posting them on social media networks like Facebook or Twitter. This means online data points of you and other people are now very useful during election time. Does this mean that “information technology” or I.T. is the future of politics?

In a recent online big data study conducted a few months before the 2012 US Presidential Elections, it was found out that Romney supporters tend to eat at Olive Garden while Obama supporters tend to dine out at Red Lobster. Not only that, even one’s taste in music could serve as a very accurate predictor of who you will vote for. Looking back, one could easily conclude that President Obama had an “unfair” head start when it comes to establishing a homegrown database via online social networks of his supporters – even though Obama can freely buy political advertisement time in both Olive Garden and Red Lobster. 

No comments: