Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The First GOP Debate

The first debate for Republican candidates was August 6, just about a week ago. Since then, there have been many interesting changes in the Facebook Like dataset.

Debate Winners:
This is one of the first times to see if major changes in the political landscape are reflected by Facebook Likes. CNN and The Huffington Post seem to agree that Carly Fiorina (R), Marco Rubio (R), and Ben Carson (R) were the winners of the debates (Fiorina was in the "happy hour" debate while Rubio and Caron were in the "primetime" debate). Let's take a look at the Facebook data.

Let's take a look at the data from August 7:

Based on the percentage overnight change, it certainly seems that Fiorina and Carson were major winners. In fact, Carson's overnight increase of 124,341 Likes set a new record (at least since I started this project). [Although, he broke his own record the next day with 145,526 Likes] It definitely seems like percent change is one of the best ways to track public opinion shifting, rather than total Likes or even absolute overnight change. Trump consistently does well overnight, but it's difficult to ascertain whether this is because of agreement with his views on issues or because people are simply interested in following him due to controversy. However, the percentage bumps seem to jive with the "declared winners" of the Debate (to some extent anyway). What's interesting is that the Facebook data seems to not really show much of an increase for Rubio. In fact, Bernie Sanders (I) has seen more of a bump since the debate (the large bump for Carson is August 7). 

I created a new statistic this time that shows, I think, who the front-runners seem to be in terms of momentum: the percent increase in Likes since the start of the data set. While Donald Trump (R) still leads in terms of total Likes, Fiorina now actually has the highest percent change, up there with Bernie Sanders (I) and Carson. We'll see how this plays out, but I wouldn't be surprised if those four become the major contenders later on (but that's just a personal opinion).

The Sanders Bump:
One strange artifact of the debate (and other recent press) is that Sanders is taking off relative to Hillary Clinton (D). Over the past week or so, Sanders has rapidly decreased Clinton's lead. Using all the data collected so far in a linear model, Sanders should pass Clinton in approximately 43 days. Using just the past week (given his actual increased political momentum after the debate and the #BlackLivesMatter interruption in Seattle at one of his rallies), Sanders should pass Clinton in just a little over a week. Interesting times are ahead for the Democrats.

Here are some milestones that candidates have hit recently, along with when they were predicted to happen (see my previous post).

August 3: Bernie Sanders (I) passes Marco Rubio (R) with 925K Likes (prediction: July 29 with 918K)
August 6: Ben Carson (R) passes Mike Huckabee (R) with 1.8M Likes (prediction: August 14 with 1.8M)
August 8: Ben Carson (R) passes Rand Paul (R) with 2M Likes (no prediction)
August 9: Donald Trump (R) hits 3M Likes (prediction: August 10)
August 10: Bernie Sanders (I) hits 1M Likes (no prediction)

New Predictions:
These are based on just the data since the debate. The newest prediction for the party nominees are Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders.

August 14: Fiorina passes Walker (R) at 290K
August 17: Rubio hits 1M
August 19: Bush (R) passes Santorum (R) at 265K
August 20: Sanders passes Perry (R) and Clinton at 1.2M
August 23: Clinton passes Perry at 1.2M
August 25: Bush passes Jindal (R) at 286K
September 4: Sanders passes Cruz (R) at 1.5M
September 8: Carson passes Trump at 3.97M
September 9: Carson hits 4M
September 11: Christie (R) passes Graham (R) at 136K

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