What if only social media determined the results of an election?

My colleague, Ryan Tribbett, shared a story on our blog yesterday speculating who would win the Primary Election if money was the only factor in determining the outcome. As Social Media Manager for Pac/West, I’m interested to see where the candidates would stand if we considered only a candidate’s social media prowess.

In today’s hyper-digital world, social media is becoming an integral part of any political campaign. In fact, a lot of the trench warfare for campaigns is happening on Facebook and Twitter. From the dispersal of campaign literature to attacks on one’s opponent, social media is beginning to be recognized as a new communication medium.

The same dynamics that apply to a ground campaign apply also to a social media campaign. In order for a candidate to get their message out, they need to have people who are willing to listen to them. The larger a following you can create online, the more people are going to hear your message and are more likely to share with their friends and family online. As campaigns begin to focus more on their digital campaigns, we anticipate social media becoming the front lines in contested primary and general election races.

Five primaries to watch for the Republican Party:

House District 7 – Cedric Hayden vs. Gary Williams

Rural communities have been some of the last to show up in the social media world here in Oregon, primarily because they are made up of a largely older demographic. The largest city in House District 7, Roseburg, features two candidates to replace Representative Bruce Hanna. Cedric Hayden is leading the social media race with his 552 friends compared to Gary Williams’ 142.

If social media is the deciding factor: Cedric Hayden wins 4 to 1, to the tune of 80 percent to 20 percent.

House District 18 – Incumbent Vic Gilliam vs. Dave Darnell

In another mostly rural district, Dave Darnell is leading the social media race with 781 friends compared to Representative Vic Gilliam’s 510.

If social media is the deciding factor: Dave Darnell wins 2 to 1, to the tune of 60 percent to 40 percent.

House District 23 – Incumbent Jim Thompson vs. Mike Nearman

In a similar race in another district, Mike Nearman is leading the race with 546 friends compared to Representative Jim Thompson’s 115.

If social media is the deciding factor: Mike Nearman wins 4 to 1, to the tune of 83 percent to 17 percent.

House District 25 – Barbara Jensen vs. Bill Post

In one of the most fought social media campaigns we have seen in this primary, Bill Post is leading the race with 1,206 friends compared to Barbara Jensen who has 398 friends.

If social media is the deciding factor: Bill Post wins 3 to 1, to the tune of 75 percent to 25 percent.

House District 58 – Greg Barreto vs. John Turner

Oddly enough, the race over House District 58 representing rural northeast Oregon has become another highly contested primary, where the front lines have happened on social media. Greg Barreto is leading the race with 899 friends compared to John Turner’s 778.

If social media is the deciding factor: Greg Barreto wins by 12 points, to the tune of 56 percent to 44 percent.


Three primaries to watch for the Democratic Party:

House District 34 – Brian Tosky vs. Ken Helm

The race to replace the seat vacated by Representative Chris Harker representing northeast Washington County features three candidates—Brian Tosky, Jason Yurgel and Ken Helm. We were unable to find any social media presence for Jason Yurgel, and will have to consider only Brian Tosky and Ken Helm for the purposes of this analysis. Ken Helm and his 465 friends are leading the way in the race for House District 34 as they face Brian Tosky and his 465 friends, in what has become one of the closest social media matches of the election.

If social media is the deciding factor: Ken Helm wins by 6 points, to the tune of 53 percent to 47 percent.

House District 41 – Deborah Barnes vs. Kathleen Taylor

In the race to replace the seat vacated by Representative Carolyn Tomei representing Milwaukie, Deborah Barnes and her 456 friends are overpowering Kathleen Taylor and her 273 friends.

If social media is the deciding factor: Deborah Barnes wins by 26 points, to the tune of 63 percent to 37 percent.

House District 42 – Rob Nosse vs. Teddy Keizer

Finally, in the race to fill the seat vacated by Representative Jules Bailey, there is Rob Nosse and Teddy Keizer. Rob Nosse and his 913 friends are carrying the weight in this race against Teddy Keizer and his 550 friends.

If social media is the deciding factor: Rob Nosse wins by 24 points, to the tune of 62 percent to 38 percent.


Social media will not be the only determining factor in any of these elections; however, we believe that social media continues to emerge as a growing platform for political campaigns to propagate their messages and gain support within their electorates. As advertising and message dispersal becomes more frequent on social media platforms, we anticipate the attention of social media to grow and become the front lines of future political campaign battles.

900 thoughts on “What if only social media determined the results of an election?

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