Sunday, October 28, 2007

What Happens On Facebook Stays On Facebook

Charlotte Gore raises an important point about Facebook's political categories and the debate going forward (although missing the reason why those categories are the way they are, namely that Facebook is American and wouldn't know a socialist if Bernie Sanders hit it with one.) Charlotte has perhaps also missed one of the wonders of Facebook, in that the numbers to inform the answer are but a mouse-click away...

For those who have missed it, Facebook's UK Politics application is essentially a mass opinion poll on the question, "who are you planning on voting for in the next General Election". It's been incredibly popular, and now has around 4500 responses logged. It may not be particularly accurate (it is, after all, self-selecting) but it does have the advantage that it can compare an individual's responses to all their other profile data.

Right now (18:55 as I type), the overall poll is as follows;
  • Conservative - 34.9%
  • Labour - 33.3%
  • Liberal Democrat - 18.6%
  • Green (UK Total) - 4.1%
  • Others - 9.1%
But then consider some of these breakdowns. For "Very Liberal";
  • Liberal Democrat - 44%
  • Labour - 38.8%
  • Green - 7.3%
For "Liberal";
  • Liberal Democrat - 50.3%
  • Labour - 37.5%
  • Conservative - 4.1%
Those two are perhaps less surprising, and neither is the fact that the Conservatives take over 90% of the "Conservative" and "Very Conservative" votes. The remaining categories are a touch more interesting. In "Libertarian";
  • Conservative - 56.3%
  • Liberal Democrat - 14.4%
  • Labour - 11.3%
In "Moderate";
  • Labour - 56.8%
  • Conservative - 24.8%
  • Liberal Democrat - 8%
And in "Other";
  • Labour - 54.7%
  • Conservative - 9.6%
  • Green - 8.3%
  • Respect - 6.6%
  • Liberal Democrat - 5.8%
To me, those numbers suggest two problems in addition to the one Charlotte correctly identified. Firstly, in the Facebook world at any rate, the Lib Dems and Conservatives know what they are and identify accordingly, while the Labourites still think they're socialists. Second, the libertarians clearly believe they must stand in the Tory camp at this stage (and I suspect they're correct in that analysis). The question is, can we attract these two groups, both of whom should be with us to a greater extent than they are, without pissing everyone else off?

1 comment:

Tristan said...

The Libertarian/Tory thing is problematic. Historically they would have been Liberals.
Personally I think the Tories and Libertarians are incompatible, but the LibDems are seen as socialist light and interfering nanny state supporters (which is true of some LibDems).
We'll never be a radical libertarian party (and we never were) but I think we have more sympathy with libertarianism than the Tories do (aside from Tory anti-socialism).

There are factions of libertarians who are actually very conservative and nationalistic of course, this seems to dominate a large part of the vocal libertarians in the UK unfortunately.