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What Social Data Says About Your Politics

Patrick Ruffini

Patrick Ruffini

If you’re a faithful viewer of NCIS and love Campbell’s Soup, you’ll probably be voting for Mitt Romney next Tuesday. If you’re DVRing 30 Rock, Game of Thrones, and Modern Family while drinking Red Bull, chances are you’re sticking with Barack Obama for four more years. Fans of Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, Star Trek, and SNL look very likely to vote, but the same can’t be said for fans of Sons of Anarchy and Monster drinkers.

In the week leading up to Election Day, we teamed up with BuzzFeed to break down how fans of America’s biggest cultural obsessions are likely to vote. In July, our Politics of the Social Web graphic revealed what your social media use said about your politics.

Through Trendsetter, an app we built to cross-reference polling data with influence and page likes data from Facebook, we’ve been able to map out political partisanship and turnout for more than 4 million unique interests expressed by Facebook users.

The data is a fascinating peek into American culture, as seen through the grand divide of Presidential politics. One’s favorite TV shows don’t predict one’s politics, but the political leanings of TV fans speak to the unique cultural DNA of each show. Once every four years, we choose between two candidates. That choice is just as much about culture — urban versus rural, secular versus religious, cupcake shop versus Cracker Barrel — as it is about issues. Whether you support Obama or Romney, that support is more often than not a manifestation of where you live, what you watch, and where you fit in culturally.

This is where we think other attempts to “match” you to candidates based on issue quizzes go wrong: voters don’t necessarily behave rationally. We think the subcultures you inhabit say an awful lot about your politics. This is why, when our model tries to predict who you’ll vote for based on all the things you like on Facebook, we get it right more than 90% of the time for people who index at 60% or above for one candidate, and right around two thirds of the time when that score hovers in the 50-60% range.

In recent years, Americans have tended to associate more with like-minded people from across the country and the globe, and less with the person who lives right next door. Nowhere is this tendency stronger than on Facebook. Pages Likes — for which there are around a hundred for the average user — provide a rich new avenue for analyzing what these interests mean politically.

The full series of graphics:




  • What Your Pop Culture Preferences Say About Your Politics | RSS Direct

    2012-11-05 16:20:37

    [...] digital agency Engage teamed up with BuzzFeed to show what tastes in movies, music, TV shows and networks may reveal [...]

  • What Your Pop Culture Preferences Say About Your Politics | TIME.com

    2012-11-05 09:00:20

    [...] digital agency Engage teamed up with BuzzFeed to show what tastes in movies, music, TV shows and networks may reveal [...]

  • Dime qué ves y te diré a quién votas | Xombit

    2012-11-02 04:18:03

    [...] de Estados Unidos a la vuelta de la esquina, tocaba, solo era cuestión de tiempo. Y finalmente aquí lo tenemos pero, como siempre, nos encontramos con muy pocas sorpresas porque, en realidad, no podemos [...]

  • Nurseserver

    2012-11-02 01:52:00

    Fascinating read. Interesting how the ever changing social landscape is influencing how we reach not only potential customers, but potential voters as well.