Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Social media vs. Sandy

What had a more immediate and vital influence on the 2012 presidential election result: social media or Sandy? The result of the election was affected by many factors such as online political activities, Sandy, unemployment rates, and Obama health care. Can we measure the effects of each factor on the election? I think that it may be difficult to measure the effects of the factors including social media for two main reasons.

First, it is not possible to calculate the contribution degree of each factor. For instance, total votes for President Obama are composed of existing votes for the Democrat and new votes transferred by campaign. In order to calculate the contribution of social media to the election, we have to decide how many new votes were transferred from votes for Mitt Romney or swing votes only by social media. However, what is the way to know it? How can we identify the source of votes? And some of new votes were made by social media and Sandy together.

Second, it is not easy to measure and quantify the outcome of each factor. For example, we can calculate the outputs of social media campaign such as the number of views, likes and retweets. But, how can we calculate the outcomes like change in voter support caused by the outcomes? Therefore, we just guess which factor had serious effect on the result based on the outputs of some activities.

So, who would dare to say that social media won or lost?

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