FiveThirtyEight Teams Up with Facebook, Launches Interactive Map to Gauge Candidate Popularity 

ESPN Digital

FiveThirtyEight Teams Up with Facebook, Launches Interactive Map to Gauge Candidate Popularity 

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FiveThirtyEight and Facebook are launching The Facebook Primary, an interactive map of the U.S. showcasing and comparing the number of page likes each of the candidates has across the states and down to the county level. The map, which will be updated periodically, provides a glimpse into each candidate’s local support.

Authored by FiveThirtyEight’s computational journalist Matthew Conlen and visual journalist Reuben Fischer-Baum, the project allows readers to choose specific candidates and areas of the map to toggle and compare how candidates stack up against each other in particular counties and states. It also provides two separate data points: The first shows which candidates have the greatest percentage of likes in each state and the second depicts which contenders have the most disproportionate share of likes, relative to their nationwide share.

“The data isn’t predictive of the election, but it is a revealing look at the preferences of many people who use Facebook and like the candidates’ pages. Clicking the various states and counties on the map, while toggling on and off the colors of the candidates, can be an addictive experience.” said managing editor David Firestone.

Some of the noteworthy trends uncovered from the initial map include:

  • Rubio’s support on Facebook is disproportionally high in his home state of Florida, Iowa and South Carolina.
  • Both Clinton and Trump are based in New York, but they dominate different parts of the city.
  • In red states, Sanders leads top GOP contenders in the geographic areas around universities (for example, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State).
  • Among the top three Republicans, Trump has the most support on Facebook.
  • Bernie Sanders beats Hillary Clinton in Facebook likes by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.

The data, provided by Facebook as of January 8, 2016, is available for selected cities at the zip code tabulation area (ZCTA) level.

The project is one of several initiatives from FiveThirtyEight’s extensive coverage of the 2016 Presidential Election. Additional features, multimedia elements and projects to debut leading up to Election Day.

FiveThirtyEight, which launched as an ESPN entity in 2014, is a data journalism organization delivering compelling stories across the verticals of politics, economy, science, life and sports. The site, founded by award-winning author and statistician Nate Silver, first gained national attention during the 2008 presidential election, when it correctly predicted the results of the presidential election in 49 of 50 states, along with all 35 U.S. Senate races. Since its debut at ESPN, FiveThirtyEight has built a team with a broad set of skills and experiences in order to apply statistical analysis, data visualization, and data-literate reporting to topics in the news and in everyday life.


Ana Livia Coelho

Ana Livia Coelho is a Senior Publicist in New York, overseeing FiveThirtyEight as well as ESPN’s Consumer Marketing, Ad Sales, Affiliate Sales, Consumer Products and Research groups. She is a native Brazilian and a graduate of the Indiana University School of Journalism and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
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