Statistics Updated November 12, 2016

Which candidate is talked about most on Facebook? Who has more Facebook page likes? These and other statistics are some of the data we are collecting as part of the Ryerson Social Media Lab’s ongoing research on how social media is changing the ways in which people communicate around elections.

Facebook and other social media sites are transforming our politics. Today, when politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or Jeb Bush want to attract voters’ attention, they turn to social media for presidential campaigning. Within seconds, a well-timed tweet or Facebook post can be delivered directly into the hands of supporters and the public at large.  For example, when Jeb Bush announced his intention to run for the US presidency, he used Facebook to make the announcement.

As more candidates and parties flock to social media, it is now easier to analyse a candidate’s campaign, both in terms of messaging and engagement, to determine how effective they are at using social media platform such as Facebook and to connect to their supporters. Knowing how, when, and what a candidate posts on social media says a lot about how they position themselves on the political stage, their campaign resources, their relative social media savviness – and even their personality – arguably all things that dictate where presidential hopefuls will land in polling.





We opted to study Facebook post for this research as the social network enjoys the highest rate of usage by Americans, with 71% of the online U.S. adult population enrolled.  And Americans are using Facebook to discuss politics. Of the most talked about topics on Facebook (both globally and in America) in 2015, the U.S. presidential elections topped the list.

This project is a collaboration between Alicia Wanless (@lageneralista) – Director of Communications, SecDev Foundation, Anatoliy Gruzd (@gruzd) – Canada Research Chair in Social Media Data Stewardship, Philip Mai (@phmai) – Research & Communications Manager, and Marc Esteve (@netmev) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Ryerson Social Media Lab.

Sample of our ongoing data collection can be viewed here below:


People Talking About a Candidate on Facebook


Weekly Facebook Like Gains


Total Facebook Page Likes


RealClearPolitics Aggregated Polling Statistics

To cross reference our findings against publicly available polls, we are also reviewing and collecting polling data as compiled and averaged by RealClearPolitics.com for comparison purposes.


GDELT Project Candidate Weekly TV Mentions

Analysis by the GDELT Project using data from the Internet Archive Television News Archive.

GDELT Project Candidate Weekly Internet Mentions

Analysis by the GDELT Project using data from the Internet Archive Television News Archive.

About Author

Alicia Wanless

La Generalista is the online identity of Alicia Wanless – a researcher and practitioner of strategic communications for social change in a Digital Age.

Alicia researches how we shape — and are shaped — by a changing information space. As the Director of Strategic Communications at The SecDev Foundation, Alicia develops campaigns and strategies for engaging beneficiaries in outreach and behavioural change. Her work includes developing a training program that deals with verifying information and the spread of content online, and has supported projects in the Middle East, Vietnam and the post-Soviet space.

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