According to Benjamin Cohen of Channel 4 in the UK, “Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats win the Facebook election.” Film at 11.
So, what’s the story behind this story?
Facebook has just concluded its final polling of more than half a million Facebook users in the UK. It has found that 42 percent support Nick Clegg of the LibDems to become prime minister, putting him ahead of 31 percent who support David Cameron of the Conservatives and 27 percent who support Gordon Brown of Labour.
The poll which was conducted via Facebook’s Democracy UK hub shows a surge of support in the Liberal Democrats in the past month. Back when the campaign officially kicked off on April 6, only 19 percent backed the LibDems. Now, 43 percent back the party itself.
Over the same time frame, support for the Conservative Party has dropped to 24 percent from 33 percent in early April. Meanwhile, 23 percent of Facebook users support the Labour Party, down from 29 percent in early April.
Richard Allan, Facebook’s Director of Public Policy, said: “The leaders’ debates provided voters with an unrivalled opportunity to scrutinize the three candidates for prime minister, and the rise of social media and the internet has made it easier than ever before for voters to consider the issues that matter to them. We have seen a huge surge in engagement on Facebook with thousands of political groups and pages being set up, with some attracting hundreds of thousands of users – including Facebook’s own Democracy UK page.”
Obviously, the poll represents the view of a self selecting group of Facebook’s users. It’s not the same as a traditional opinion poll.
As we try to measure the impact of Britain’s first Internet election, it’s worth noting that Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004 wasn’t able to turn online success into offline victory. However, during the next presidential election in 2008, “The year’s most successful startup took a skinny kid with a funny name and turned him into the most powerful new national brand in a generation,” wrote Ellen McGirt of Fast Company.
So, if tomorrow’s UK Election 2010 results in a hung parliament, we may see the learning curve compressed in Britain’s second Internet election. The next time around, winning the Facebook election might be a lot more indicative of the final outcome.