Super Tuesday results came in pretty much as traditional polls predicted, but far different than Facebook posts, tweets and comments across news sites indicated.
SocialMatica, a social media analytics firm in San Francisco, posted state-by-state dashboards that mis-predicted the Super Tuesday outcomes. Here are the predictions and the results:
- Mitt Romney would win nine of 10 states — He triumphed in six.
- Santorum would place last in all but one race — He came in first in Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota; placed second in Massachusetts and lost to Romney in Ohio by a slim margin.
- Ron Paul would place second in nine states based on his social influence — He took second in three states, tied for second in a fourth, and finished last in four other states.
Social media formulas vastly underrated Santorum and overrated Paul. Age might have had something to do with it. Paul has been a favorite of younger voters.
Doyle McManus, Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, tweeted, "Massive age gap in VA exit poll: Age 44 and under, Paul wins 63%-37%. Age 65 and over, Romney wins 83%-17%."
CBS News reported that about one-third of voters under 30 in Ohio and Tennessee voted for Paul. Similar proportions of young voters backed him in earlier primaries. But this group makes up only about 10 percent of voters in Republican primaries.
Young people are a sliver at the polls, but a sizable portion on social media sites. Younger adults (ages 18-34) make up nearly half of Facebook in the U.S.— about 74 million people. Twitter boasts a similar majority of 34 and under users. While social media analysts could tweak their formulas to improve their predictions, a massive get-out-the-vote campaign across these sites would be the only thing that could turn online voices into votes.