11 September 2012

What the Internets Might Predict About the November Election

The first sign that Barack Obama would be president may have come from what was - at the time - an oddly obscure measure. In the leadup to the 2008 campaign, Obama had far more "friends"on Facebook than Hilly Clinton and vastly more than John McCain. Initially, no one knew whether to take this seriously, particularly since Obama wasn't really doing that great in the polls. Compared to Clinton and McCain, he was fairly unknown. As it turns out, Facebook friends was a decent predictor of future success. Which brings us to some curious results from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions just ended.

Using the number of views that a video got might be as silly and irrelevant as Facebook friends, which is to say that it might actually have some predictive value. So, let's look at the matchups for similar politicians from the DNC and RNC.

First, and most important, let's compare the number of views for Obama and Romney.

THE candidates  
Barack Obama       2,020,592
Mitt Romney          287,513
 Obama wins this match, 7 to 1. Curiously, the current odds based on serious polls give Obama a 4 to 1 edge over Romney. Hmm. So, if we're to take video hits seriously, why would Obama's 7 to 1 edge drop to 4 to 1?

Paul Ryan          592,213
Joe Biden          136,748
Here we see that Ryan wins over Biden. The triumph of youth? The reputation for faux pas vs. deficit hawk? I love Joe Biden but it might just be that this 4 to 1 edge for Ryan is enough to bring down the odds of a Obama victory.

1st Ladies  
Michelle Obama       4,121,080
Ann Romney          545,696
Michelle beat the aspiring first lady by more than her husband beat the aspiring president, 7.6 to 1. I won't comment further.

Should Romney lose, the GOP will want to blame him for the loss rather than their policies. This will allow them to avoid change and take hope in their future. In light of that, it's worth comparing a couple of the stronger contenders for a 2016 nomination.

2016 Possibility?  
Julian Castro          646,708
Chris Christie          361,740
Here again, the Democrats take the lead, Castro winning by nearly a 2 to 1 margin. (Although to be fair, there had to be at least a few viewers who were actually expecting Fidel Castro to be addressing fellow socialists at the DNC, which could account for, oh, at least 4 or 5 of the views.)

Senator & Senatorial Candidate  
Elizabeth Warren          212,676
Marco Rubio          164,076
Rubio gave a great speech, but this sitting senator who was nearly the VP candidate got fewer viewers than a senatorial candidate who is trailing in the polls. Another bad omen for the GOP future.

Past Administration  
Bill Clinton       5,009,069
Condoleeza Rice          281,696
George W. Bush did not show up at the RNC. Nor did Cheney, Rumsfeld, Karl Rove or any number of luminaries from the GOP's last time to hold the White House. Condoleeza Rice was thus left to represent the previous administration against Clinton. It's probably fair to say that this was a mismatch, Clinton's views are currently about 18 times Rice's (and higher than anyone else's, including the two presidential candidates).

But the Republicans had more than one victory. In addition to Ryan's victory over Biden, they did totally crush the Democrats in one category: the popularity of their celebrity. Here we have a stunning 50 to 1 victory for the GOP.

Clint Eastwood       4,718,419
Eva Longoria             94,392
I think, though, that this might qualify as a Pyrrhic victory.

[Numbers posted by Guy Kawasaki at http://www.facebook.com/guy]

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