2012 Election Activity on Facebook

By Betsy Cameron

On Election Day in the United States, an extraordinary number of people used Facebook to share their thoughts and reactions. We tracked 71.7 million election-related mentions made by users within the U.S. — enough to score a 9.27 on the Facebook Talk Meter, the highest score of U.S.-based events that we have measured for 2012. To put that in perspective, the 2012 Super Bowl scored a 8.62 on the Talk Meter, while the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series tracked at a 6.1.

Election discussion on Facebook was a global phenomenon, too – outside the U.S., Election Day scored an 8.28 on the Talk Meter, with additional buzz to bring the total to 88.7 million mentions made worldwide on Nov. 6 pertaining to the election.

Throughout the campaign, men were slightly more likely to discuss the politics on Facebook, but the gap narrowed on Election Day, when women and men shared their reactions in nearly equal proportion. Unsurprisingly, people in Washington, D.C. were frequently the most likely to be discussing the campaign — D.C. led the way during all four debates and on Election Day itself. But the day before the election, the most buzz came from New Hampshire, perhaps a nod to the fact that the election’s first votes were cast in the tiny town of Dixville Notch, N.H.

In the run-up to the election, the 35 to 54 and 55+ age groups were the most likely to discuss each of the debates on Facebook. But on Election Day, this skewed a bit younger – Facebook buzz was highest among men and women aged 25 to 34, the youngest we saw at any point we tracked.

Looking at the entire campaign season, “Big Bird” was the most popular phrase, eking out a victory over the runner-up from the second debate, “Binders Full of Women.” Both saw a slight resurgence on Election Day — with “Big Bird” winning by a factor of 10.

Here’s a list of the most-discussed terms on Facebook sampled at various moments during Election Day:

Election Day (11/6), 7 AM PT
1. Vote – all forms: Go vote (top phrase) / voting / get out and vote / I voted / the right to vote
2. Election Day / Happy Election Day
3. Line
4. Polls
5. Voice
6. Halo
7. Eagles
8. Exercise your right to vote
9. Freedom
10. Our Country

Election Day (11/6), 2:30 PM PT
1. Vote / Voted / Votes
2. Obama
3. Election
4. Romney
5. Ballot
6. Polling
7. Ohio
8. Freedom
9. Campaign
10. Machines

Election Day (11/6), 6 PM PT
1. Obama
2. Romney
3. Win / Wins / Winning / Win the election
4. Results / Election Results
5. Close
6. Electoral / Electoral Map / Electoral Votes
7. Won
8. If Romney Wins
9. CNN
10. Coverage / Election Coverage

Election Day (11/6), 10 PM PT
1. Obama
2. 4 more years / 4 years
3. President / President Obama
4. Thank God
5. Won / Wins
6. America
7. Country / My Country / This Country
8. Yes
9. Ohio
10. Florida


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