Cool new Facebook tool monitors candidates’ social media traffic

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Sayonara pricey polls with your sometimes shady methodologies and often skewed “likely voters.” Say hello to the Facebook dashboard that tabulates page likes, comments and shares for gubernatorial and congressional candidates in all 50 states. And for those allergic to reading the fine print and otherwise put off by pesky data, there’s a color-coded interactive map in varying shades of red, blue and a purple hue to indicate which major political party in each district is picking up the most social media tracking.

Here in Florida, Governor Rick Scott is putting the Facebook smackdown on his opponent, Democrat Charlie Crist. Scott has more than 115,000 “likes” on his page while Crist only has a little more than 87,000. There’s some good news for Crist here though. While he has far fewer “likes,” his total number is up 3.1 percent from last week compared to Scott’s meager fan growth of 0.4 percent.

Perhaps Charlie Crist’s electical fan during his second debate with Scott in Davie earned him some new people fans.

There’s some more good news for Charlie. More than 41,000 people are “talking” about him on Facebook while Scott has only been mentioned by about 19,000. Regardless, that’s a lot of talk and sure to leave both candidates’ ears burning.

So what are these thousands and thousands of Facebook politicos talking about?

The most recent comments on Crist’s page are about the death penalty. One commenter brings up that fun little time in the Crist campaign when Scott delayed an execution so his Attorney General darling Pam Bondi could attend a campaign event. Another criticizes the death penalty in general.

Others were just straight up Republican bashing.

“If stupid people in this state, led by the Tea Party loons in the Panhandle, manage to re-elect Scott — then I wonder if maybe we should all join up with that group in South Florida that wants the South and Central parts of the state to form a new state….then elect Crist as our first governor?”

“Don’t forget about how they (Republicans) cut the hourly pay for those hardworking people in the restaurant and server industry down to almost $2.00 /hr.from that high pay of $4.00/hr. That effected (sic), retirees, average family members and college kids trying to work part time to make ends meet! The voters need to be reminded of that.”

Then there’s this one:

“Crist ate nex governor.”

Uhh, not sure what that one means, but I suspect it has something to do with cannibalism. Anywho, over on Scott’s page folks are just as critical of Crist.

“How could anyone vote for Crist when he doesn’t even know what party he belongs too….LOL.”

“It amazes how people forget so easily Charlie Christ is a fraud! Republican, independent or Democrat??? What is he? Rick Scott is still cleaning up his mess!”

And just to be fair on the funny comments, there’s this lovely gal’s heart felt thank you.

“Thank You Governor Rick Scott for the stamp…I was short one…Hubbies ballot is going out today…Mine went out a week ago…the Supervisor was late in sending hubbies!”

Yeah supervisor, how could you forget to send all the hubbies?!

The new handy-dandy little Facebook tool also breaks down Facebook traffic for U.S. Senate and House candidates. The state looks pretty gosh darn red with the exception of Kathy Castor’s Tampa district (and just a pinch of South Pinellas), some South Florida districts around Miami and Fort Lauderdale and Corrine Brown’s massively gerrymandered District 5 that snakes through the center of North Florida looking all dragon-like.

There’s Gwen Graham in the Tallahassee district running against incumbent Republican Steve Southerland. He’s raking in about 10,000 more likes than her. Ouch.

Ted Yoho, the GOP incumbent in the North Florida Congressional District 3 seat is walloping Marihelen Wheeler with 9,000 likes to her less than 1,000. Burn.

Alan Grayson in Central Florida seems to be winning the Facebook popularity contest with 110,000 likes. His opponent, Carol Platt, has 6,600 and only 166 people are talking about her compared to the 14,800 people musing about one of the many Grayson diarrhea-of-the-mouth gaffes about Republicans wanting uninsured people to die or Dick Cheney’s mouth dripping with blood. There’s a lot to discuss, clearly.

Over in North Hillsborough, incumbent conservative Dennis Ross is unimpressively rocking 4,000 page likes with only 36 people buzzing about him. That’s still enough to trounce the Democrat running against him, Alan Cohn, who has a sad 425 likes.

That brings up a pretty important Facebook disclaimer. The social media giant told Politico, the dashboard “is reflective of how much voters are engaging with the pages of candidates for elected office,” and is not meant to predict winners and losers of this year’s mid-term elections.

It’s still fun though.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.