If you followed Twitter before and during the recent Toronto election you would have found a lot of negative chatter around the eventual winner of the Mayor's race, Rob Ford. If you were silly enough to believe that all this sniping within the social media bubble would have an effect on the way people voted, perhaps you were shocked when Rob Ford was pronounced mayor a scant eight minutes after the polls closed on October 25th.
Patrick Gladney of Toronto-based Northstar Research Partners followed the online buzz during the run-up to the election and has just posted an eye-opening analysis of how voter age, voting intent and Twitter usage came into play (or not) in the results. Here are a few charts, but take the time to pour over Patrick's full post. (I wish all social media analysis was as thorough):
There are two things that can be observed from this data. The first is that Ford did remarkably well with people who clearly aren’t on Twitter. Over 60% of people aged 65+ planned on voting for Ford, while less than 10% of that population is on Twitter. And the senior set is a group that has both the desire and time to cast a ballot. Amongst people aged 25-44, the heaviest Twitter users, voting intention was almost even.
Looking at education we see another stark divide. Clearly, those that have spent more time at school, are heavier Twitter users and are more likely to have voted for Smitherman. People with a high school education or less were twice as likely to vote for Ford, yet are half as likely to be on Twitter compared to the University educated.
This should be a lesson to all of us high on social media's intoxicating fumes that not everyone is using social media to share, learn and amplify. It's obviously a part of the political process, but just not the part that decides elections just yet.