Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Social Media for the Lindsey Williams/Jeremy Shaffer State Senate Race

On September 29, at the Homecoming parade for Shaler High School I met Lyndsey Williams who is running for the PA State Senate post for district 38.  This is a district once held by Jim Ferlo who was an outspoken advocate for single payer/medicare for all for decades.  In 2014 his district was redrawn to include much of the north hills above Pittsburgh which was traditionally Republican to drive him out of office.  It worked.  He stepped down and was replaced by Republican Randy Vulakovich.

Last may Vulakovich lost the primary for his seat to Jeremy Shaffer by 59-41%.  Shaffer is now facing Democrat Lindsey Williams.  Attention has been paid to this race as Shaffer's campaign has been running ads and distributing fake yard signs to label Williams a socialist in the same vain as Lenin.  She admits to joining the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) but did not receive their endorsement.

I thought I would take a look at what impact this "socialist" attack strategy is having on the race.  As there normally are no public polls for state Senate races I thought I would take a look at the candidates social media followings as a proxy for the strength of their campaigns.  In my last post I recorded the Facebook and Twitter followings for candidates in nine races Cambria County as I did in 2016.  Back then Facebook followings in these predicted the winner in eight of the nine races considered.  As of this writing, Williams has 1,522 followers on her campaign Facebook page and 1,339 on her campaign Twitter page.  Jeremy Shaffer has 2,034 followers on Facebook and 193 on Twitter.  

Usually candidates don't go negative on their opponents unless they see them as a threat.  I don't know what their followings were before this negative campaign began.  These numbers will have to be updated before the election to give a clearer picture of the "socialist" ads impact.  She has told her supporters to leave those yard ads alone so she may not see them as a serious threat.

I do have a new article published on Darply looking at changes in voter registration in Cambria County since the 2014 and 2016 elections.  I encourage you all to check it out.


PA Election 2018: Will Facebook and Twitter Followings Predict Winners?

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