Analysis by The UpTake’s Michael McIntee
How are the campaigns for mayor of Minneapolis going? With no incumbent, 35 candidates, a new way of counting votes (Ranked Choice Voting) and very few polls, it is hard to tell who might ultimately come out on top on November 5.
So here’s another metric to consider: Social media.
I delved into the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of the announced candidates, my theory being that if they have a lot of “followers” on Twitter or “likes” on their Facebook campaign pages, they stand a better chance of winning. I didn’t come up with any clear-cut answers as to who might win the election, but I did find out which candidates are expending little or no effort on a social media campaign — a clear indication that they’re not likely to win, place or show in the final tally.
First, the least reliable indicator of popularity: Number of Twitter followers.
Twitter followers, while an interesting statistic, can easily be faked. Followers can be purchased. Using Status People’s Fake Twitter account checker we found there’s apparently no large-scale faking going on with these mayoral candidates. More than 80 percent of the Twitter followers of most of the candidates with more than a dozen followers were found to be “good.” Less than eight percent of any candidate’s followers were rated “fake”. The rest were judged “inactive.” (For comparison, my Twitter account @mmcintee came back with 88 percent “good,” nine percent “inactive” and three percent “fake”).
Another reason the number of Twitter followers is not always a reliable indicator of current popularity is that many followers may have been added over many years and therefore don’t always indicate that people like what you are doing right now (such as running for mayor). Plus, there’s no easy way to tell whether most of the followers even live in Minneapolis. For example, perennial candidate Ole Savior ranks No. 2 among candidates in Twitter followers, but it is likely many of those followers came from his earlier campaign for President in 2012.
Continue reading to see who is winning the election — on social media, anyway.
Only 15 of the 35 candidates had Twitter accounts that were publicly listed. Only three candidates had more than 1,000 followers. The most notable surprise here was that Jackie Cherryhomes, who has been running an aggressive campaign, ranks only eighth with Twitter followers.
Twitter Followers (those with accounts we could verify as theirs):
|Candidate||Twitter Account||Twitter Followers||% Good|
|1) Betsy Hodges||@betsyhodges||1,991||83%|
|2) Ole Savior||@OleSavior||1,636||99%|
|3) Mark Andrew||@MarkForMpls||1,168||84%|
|4) Christopher Robin Zimmerman||@CRZ||824||67%|
|5) Cam Winton||@cam_winton||594||83%|
|6) Don Samuels||@Don__Samuels||587||87%|
|7) Merrill Anderson||@reach_mia||517||97%|
|8 ) Jackie Cherryhomes||@cherryhomesmpls||348||81%|
|9) Kurtis W. Hanna||@CaptainKurtis||237||87%|
|10) Stephanie Woodruff||@swoodruffmpls||137||90%|
|11) Bob Fine||@FineforMayor||47||81%|
|12) Dan Cohen||@DanCohenMayor||12||92%|
|13) Alicia K. Bennett||@akbformpls||6||66%|
|14) Edmund Bernard Bruyere||@BruyereforMayor||3||67%|
|15) Bob “”Again”” Carney Jr.||@TransitRev||0|
All totals as of Wednesday, October 9, 2013
A more reliable social media indicator of popularity may be the number of “likes” on a Facebook campaign page. Presumably someone likes what a candidate is doing now (running for mayor), because the page was set up once the candidate decided to run for mayor. Again, people who “like” the page may or may not live in Minneapolis, but Facebook does provide an indication of where the majority of people liking the page are from. Most of the candidates with Facebook pages had the majority of their “likes” from Minneapolis…as indicated by Minneapolis being the “most popular city” of those liking the page. The four that didn’t (Mann, Fine, Stroud and Bruyere) did not have any city listed as the “most popular city” of those liking the page. However, that still doesn’t prevent a campaign from gaming the system by setting up fake Facebook accounts which say they live in Minneapolis.
Facebook page likes (those with Facebook pages)
|Candidate||Facebook page likes|
|1) Cam Winton||3,454|
|2) Betsy Hodges||3,372|
|3) Mark Andrew||2,820|
|4) Stephanie Woodruff||843|
|5) Don Samuels||812|
|6) Jackie Cherryhomes||559|
|7) Doug Mann||447|
|8 ) Bob Fine||382|
|9) Dan Cohen||343|
|10) Christopher Robin Zimmerman||122|
|11) Merrill Anderson||112|
|12) James “”Jimmy”” L. Stroud, Jr.||84|
|13) Edmund Bernard Bruyere||58|
All totals as of Wednesday, October 9, 2013
The news here is that Cam Winton, who is running as an independent but has identified himself as a Republican in the past, would normally stand no chance of winning a race in DFL-dominated Minneapolis. Yet here he is at the top of the Facebook heap. With so many candidates splintering the vote, and Ranked Choice Voting being used to do the counting, does that mean Winton has a leg up on his mostly DFL competition? Possibly. To win, Winton would need a lot of DFL voter support, either as a first, second or third choice. Those DFL votes are more likely to go to the DFLers near the top of our Facebook Like Rankings: Betsy Hodges, Mark Andrew, Stephanie Woodruff, Don Samuels and Jackie Cherryhomes.
Where are my friends when I need them?
Several of the candidates also have personal Facebook accounts — and over time have amassed a large number of “friends.” As you might expect, many of the candidates have more “likes” on their Facebook campaign page than they do “friends” on their personal account. But five candidates apparently haven’t convinced all of their personal “friends” to “like” their campaigns. Don Samuels and Doug Mann have the widest gulf between their personal Facebook popularity and their campaign’s page popularity. Here are the candidates who fall into that category (in alphabetical order):
|Candidate||Personal Facebook Friends||Campaign Facebook Page Likes|
One possible explanation: These candidates have had their personal Facebook accounts much longer than their campaign Facebook pages and many of their “friends” may be from outside Minneapolis or don’t care to be involved in politics.
It also could be these candidates are having a hard time getting all their friends to publicly support their campaign. These candidates may be asking, “Where are my friends when I need them?”
So who is winning?
Is any of this a solid indication of who will win? No more so than counting campaign signs, campaign donations, or endorsements in letters to the editor. Remember, there’s a “digital divide” that still keeps many poor and mostly minority voters off the Internet and social media. But it does show you which campaigns are having success with social media. From what we’ve seen in recent elections, candidates who win usually have a healthy social media presence.
Finally, if you only want to consider the 11 candidates who have gone through the trouble to set up a website, a Facebook campaign page and a Twitter account, we have a list here for you in alphabetical order with all of their sites. That’s a slightly higher bar than filling out a form and paying the $20 filing fee (which is all Minneapolis requires of a mayoral candidate), but it’s not that difficult. That’s followed by a list of 24 other candidates who are running, but don’t meet all three criteria.
|Candidate||Webpage||Twitter Account||Campaign Facebook Page|
Edmund Bernard Bruyere
|Christopher Robin Zimmerman||crz.net||@CRZ||facebook.com/CRZforMayor|
Alicia K. Bennett
Bob “Again” Carney Jr.
Kurtis W. Hanna
John Leslie Hartwig
Gregg A. Iverson
Abdul M. Rahaman “The Rock”
Captain Jack Sparrow
James “Jimmy” L. Stroud, Jr.
Jeffery Alan Wagner
John Charles Wilson
Rahn V. Workcuff