… As Facebook morphed into a ubiquitous social utility used by seventy-one percent of Americans and “popular across a diverse mix of demographic groups,” my colleague, Ed Erickson, and I speculated that Facebook data might very well provide a reliable measure of campaign effectiveness and enable the development of a dependable model for predicting the outcomes of individual congressional contests.
In the 2012 and 2104 election cycles, we set out to test our theory in the hurly-burly world of contested campaigns for US Senate. Using publicly-available Facebook data, leavened with simple electoral fundamentals similar to those that are the backbone of national forecasting models, we developed a simple model to forecast the percentage of the vote Republican and Democratic Senate candidates would win on Election Day weeks before voting began. The model’s accuracy is quite surprising. CONT.
Matthew C. MacWilliams (UMass Amherst), USAPP