Opinion: Andrew Cuomo, Meg Whitman, Jan Brewer are big winners at Facebook friending

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Facebook’s U.S. politics page has begun drilling down into midterm races across the nation with some surprising -- and unsurprising -- results.

On Thursday, the site released its list of politicians who had added the most Facebook followers in the last week. Unsurprisingly, the biggest gainers -- Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo in New York and California Republican Meg Whitman -- are in high-profile races in heavily populated areas that also have nationwide appeal.

And true to expectations, Cuomo, who holds a hefty poll lead over Carl Paladino, added more than 18,000 Facebook fans in the last week (which may or may not have something to do with Paladino’s recent inflammatory remarks on homosexuality).

Whitman, meanwhile, has added 11,000 fans in the last week. This is perhaps a surprise as Whitman has dipped in the polls of late in her race for governor against Jerry Brown following a campaign blip involving her employ of an undocumented worker for nine years. Brown also added more than 3,000 fans last week.


Other notable gainers include incumbent Jan Brewer in Arizona, an expected....

...landslide winner in her gubernatorial race with Terry Goddard and a high-profile figure nationally. Facebook is also tracking the candidates who are most actively posting to Facebook -- Colorado independent Tom Tancredo leads with 108 posts -- and the biggest gap in followers in key races (Brewer leads Goddard by 300,000-plus. Whitman leads Brown by just under 75,000.)

But do Facebook followers translate into real-world (projected) voters? Largely no, based on numerous studies and evidenced by Whitman’s Facebook lead over Brown. But the site can and is used by politicians to effectively deliver campaign messages to an audience that has indicated it wants to receive them and may well re-post within their own friend networks and also, of course, to launch vicious attacks on their opponents.

The post also highlights the difference between social-media approaches to politics. It’s compelling reading.

-- Craig Howie

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