Forget kissing babies, you need Facebook friends to get elected
Now politicians may have to do the same.
According to Facebook, which tracked the number of fans collected on the official Facebook campaign pages of many 2010 congressional candidates, virtual fans seem to strongly correlate to actual votes.
Congressional candidates this year who collected more fans on their campaign page also tended to collect more votes in the ballot box, according to the data.
Of the "98 most hotly contested [House of Representatives] races" tracked by Facebook, about 74% of candidates who won their race also trounced their opponents on Facebook, garnering more virtual fans.
When the numbers are broken down, that means 69 winners had more Facebook fans than their opponents, 24 winners had fewer and five races were still too close to call.
The correlation was even higher for the Senate. Of the 34 Senate races decided as of Wednesday morning, just over 82% of winners had attracted more Facebook fans compared with their opponents.
Among those Senate candidates beating opponents on Facebook, 28 won their races, six lost and three were too close to call.
Facebook declined to identify who had the most Facebook fans.
The data, while not fail-proof, signifies the increasing role that social media sites like Facebook play in both mobilizing voters and predicting election results, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said.
"We think the sky's the limit," he said. "We can't wait for 2012, where we believe social media will be an even more important component."
-- Shan Li
Photo: The Facebook home page. Credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images