On Tuesday voters did not just turn out in droves to cast their votes for the next president of the United States. They also took to social media and let the world know which candidate they voted for. 22 percent of registered voters let others know how they voted on a social networking site, primarily Twitter or Facebook, reports the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Interestingly, there was a stark generational divide, with young voters more vocal about their voting choices than older voters.
29 percent of those under 50 announced on their social media networks how they voted or planned to vote, while only 17 percent of those 50 and older revealed their voting choices on social media. It’s hard to peg down what exactly this mean for how social media influenced the election. Did more young people vote than otherwise would have because they saw their friends had? Is social media peer pressure effective? Do people who share their voting choice online tend to favor one party over the other? The answers to these questions will surely be discussed on Capitol Hill in the weeks to come.
On Instagram in particular, voters were sharing pictures of their ballots. AllThingsD reported that “a search for ‘#vote’ in Instagram’s Explore tab currently brings up more than 460,000 photo results”, such as the one pictured below.
Despite the willingness of young people to share their voting choices, many states have laws on activities that occur in and around polling places. I’d imagine that the majority of those who shared images were either unaware it was illegal (if it was in their state) or were incredibly discreet. However, it’s fascinating that so many were using social media to prove their votes. Pictures of Instagram ballots seemed to be analogous to the “I voted” stickers in-person voters receive. What’s more, a majority of Instagram votes were for President Obama, which suggests a few things. Young people, who constitute a majority of Instagram users, also overwhelmingly favored Obama according to exit poll data. Or perhaps Instagram users tend to be Democrats or liberal Independents.
Elsewhere in the social media universe, people were “checking in” at voting locations on Foursquare, earning virtual badges in the process.
And of course, no social media round up would be complete without mentioning Twitter. Election Day resulted in record numbers of tweet throughout the day, reaching a peak at 327,452 tweets per minute as networks called the race for President Obama. The president’s “Four more years” tweet has so far resulted in 787,853 retweets, breaking the record for the most retweeted tweet ever.
For future elections, social media activity could work hand-in-hand with exit polls to give us an even more accurate – and perhaps quicker – account of voting results.
What did you make of Election Day’s social media activity? Did you tweet/post/share your voting results or preferences? If so, what were your reasons for doing so?