Facebook’s Data on 15 Different Presidential Fandoms

We’re still about six months away from a single ballot being cast in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Since there’s little getting out the vote or door to door campaigning going on, the race consists of political brands competing with marketing, much of it on Facebook. We analyzed over 15M liberal and very liberal Facebook users who are “interested” in the different candidates, and found some interesting outliers and trends that map to aspects of the different candidates’ backgrounds and platforms.

In short, each candidate is trying to nurture people into engaging, posting, donating, and someday, voting. Each candidate, when targeting voters, has their own sweet spots where certain demographics really resonate with their message. And each candidate has weak spots with different groups, where they’re probably doomed at building mass appeal because of their platform or background.

To get the data, I downloaded a bunch of demographic audience data from a tool called Facebook Audience Insights. Facebook has many of the presidential candidates available as “interest” audiences on their advertising platform; giving advertisers the ability to target Cory Booker voters, for example. Facebook’s advertising platform can be used to mine some of the demographic and ideological differences between the different candidates’ fandoms, who are identified as either “liberal” or “very liberal” by Facebook.

Why this is useful in addition to traditional polling

The data provides a snapshot of what kinds of people, at this moment, are engaging with content related to the different candidates, but haven’t necessarily answered a telephone poll and committed their vote to one candidate. If any of the candidates are successful at expanding the electorate beyond the people who currently are counted on to vote by traditional models (like younger people who don’t have landlines and don’t usually vote), this data can help show how those people are thinking.

It also provides a window into the mix of appeal that each candidate brings to the table, both with their chosen platforms and the followings that they’ve cultivated to this point in their careers.

Some caveats

Since Facebook users could theoretically be interested in 15 different candidates at once, it’s not as useful as a straight polling tool for measuring a race, but more useful as a way of differentiating between the appeal of the candidates.

Also, 33% of Joe Biden’s fanbase is a lot different than 33% of Andrew Yang’s fanbase; Joe Biden has over 5 million people interested in him on Facebook, while Andrew Yang has about 22,500. We’re using the percentages only to see how a candidate is positioning themselves, not as a straight polling tool to say that one candidate has more support than another.

Some of the data available on this platform include gender breakdowns, age distribution, relationship status, other things that the audience likes, and education level.

Methodology

The methodology is explained in a previous article I wrote about the political affinities of different game fandoms. Please note that while you may be tagged as being “interested” in a candidate, it could mean that you like their page, engage with their content regularly, or enter discussions about them regularly. It generally connotes a level of affinity with the candidate in question. It is possible for people to be tagged as interested in multiple candidates.

I only included people interested in the candidates who are tagged as “liberal” or “very liberal.” For context, about 20% of the United States’ 175 million Facebook users are classified as either “liberal” or “very liberal.”

This information was accessed using a tool called Facebook Audience Insights.

(NOTE: Mike Gravel and the teens dropped out of the race right before we published this.)

Setting the Stage

How many people are interested in each candidate?

August 2019
  • Biden 5.5M
  • Sanders/Warren 2.75M
  • Harris 1.25M
  • Booker 850,000, Castro 275,000, O’Rourke 225,000, Williamson 225,000 Klobuchar 175,000, Gabbard 125,000, Buttigieg 85,000 de Blasio 65,000, Hickenlooper 47,500, Gravel 37,500

Least: Yang 22,500

Based on number of Liberal and Very Liberal Facebook users who have engaged with content or indicated interest in the candidates.

This graphic shows the total number of people interested in a selection of the current candidates. This is kind of akin to name recognition; Joe Biden (5.5M) is known by virtually every voter in America because he was the vice president for eight years.

Bernie Sanders (2.75M) and Elizabeth Warren (2.75M) combined have as many current people in their affinity audiences as he does. Trailing far behind are Kamala Harris (1.25M) and Cory Booker (850k), and then there’s Julian Castro (275,000) and Marianne Williamson (225,000).

Age Breakdown

Boomers and the Silent Generation

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase is over 55?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Amy Klobuchar 61%
  • John Hickenlooper 53%
  • Kamala Harris/Cory Booker 42%
  • Williamson 36%, Biden 33%, Castro 32%, Warren 31%, Gabbard 29%, Sanders 23%, de Blasio 22%, Gravel 21%, Buttigieg 20%, O’Rourke 20%,

Least: Andrew Yang 7%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and is over 55.

In critiques of traditional polling, it’s often lamented that people over 55+ with landlines are over-represented. While they’ve dominated voter participation for a long time, they were finally outvoted by younger folks for the first time in the 2018 midterm elections. In real life, they make up about half of active voters, but they only make up 17% of the liberal/very liberal people on Facebook, so for the purposes of this article, they’ll be under-represented for once. What we’re looking for are outliers compared to the other candidates.

Through this lens, we can see that Amy Klobuchar’s base of support is heavy among older voters; 61% of her fans are over 55+.

Right behind her is John “Socialism is Bad” Hickenlooper. He doesn’t have a lot of total fans, but among the ones that he is getting, 53% of them are over 55.

One point of differentiation is between Warren and Sanders; even though they have the same total number of fans, Warren’s audience skews significantly older than Sanders’.

Gen-X

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase is Gen-X?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Pete Buttigieg 43%
  • Bill de Blasio 42%
  • Marianne Williamson/Beto O’Rourke 41%
  • Booker 38%, Gabbard 36%, Harris 36%, Warren 35%, Biden 34%, Castro 31%, Sanders 31%, Hickenlooker 30%, Klobuchar 23%

Least: Andrew Yang/Mike Gravel 19%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and is between 35-54.

Pete Buttigieg (43%) is slightly above the other candidates in terms of his singular appeal to Gen-Xers. Among the top tier of candidates, Bernie Sanders (31%) has the lowest percentage of Gen-X and old millennials. This class made up 26% of the electorate in the 2018 midterms, but makes up 33% of the liberal and very liberal people on Facebook.

None of the lesser-known candidates have excelled at marketing to Gen-X voters, but Andrew Yang’s and Mike Gravel’s campaigns seem to be exceptionally not resonant with them.

Zoomers and Millennials

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase is between 18-34?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Andrew Yang 73%
  • Mike Gravel 61%
  • Bernie Sanders 46%
  • O’Rourke 40%, Buttigieg 37%, de Blasio 37%, Castro 37%, Gabbard 35%, Warren 34%, Biden 34%, Williamson 23%, Booker 22%, Harris 22%, Hickenlooper 18%

Least: Amy Klobuchar 16%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and is between 18-34.

Candidates like Andrew Yang (73%) and Mike Gravel (60%) have been able to cultivate small followings by being really appealing to 18-34 year olds, who only accounted for 25% of the vote in the 2018 midterm elections.

Among the top-tier candidates, Bernie Sanders is the top candidate in this class with 46% of his Facebook base coming in between 18-34.

This group made up 25% of the voters in the mid-term elections, but they make up 47% of the liberal and very liberal people on Facebook. This group is the sleeping giant of political participation, so even though candidates like Sanders, Yang and Gravel might be seen as radical to some, their platforms and tactics are mainstream among younger people. Sanders’ path to victory is dependent on getting young people who didn’t vote before to do so in the primary.

You can see that Amy Klobuchar, John Hickenlooper and Marianne Williamson are exceptionally bad at appealing to voters aged 18-34. If you wanted to see what the possible populist future of the Democratic party could be, it’s in campaigns that message and communicate more like Mike Gravel and Andrew Yang, and less like Klobuchar and Hickenlooper.

Gender Breakdown

Women

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase identifies as female?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Marianne Williamson 81%
  • Amy Klobuchar 69%
  • Cory Booker 66%
  • Harris 65%, Warren 63%, Sanders 58%, de Blasio 57%, Biden 54%, O’Rourke 63%, Castro 63%, Hickenlooper 58%, Gabbard 39%, Yang 33%

Least: Mike Gravel 32%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as female.

This is the percentage of female supporters within each audience. Beto O’Rourke (63%), Julian Castro (63%) and Cory Booker (66%) are the only men who garnered more than 60% female supporters in their audiences; Tulsi Gabbard (39%) is the only female candidate to have a majority male audience.

In real life, women make up 53% of voters. On Facebook, they make up 55% of the “liberal” and “very liberal” audience group.

Men

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase identifies as male?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Mike Gravel 68%
  • Andrew Yang 67%
  • Tulsi Gabbard 61%
  • Buttigieg 48%, Biden 46%, de Blasio 43%, Hickenlooper 42%, Sanders 42%, Warren 37%, O’Rourke 37%, Castro 37%, Harris 35%, Booker 34%, Klobuchar 31%

Least: Marianne Williamson 19%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as male.

Mike Gravel (68%), Andrew Yang (67%) and Tulsi Gabbard (61%) have the most male-dominated fanbases by percentage. Even though Sanders’ fanbase has been attacked with the “Berniebro” slur, he actually has a lower percentage of male supporters (42%) than candidates like Buttigieg (48%), De Blasio (43%) and he’s equal with Hickenlooper (42%).

Pete Buttigieg may have a slightly easier time attracting undecided male voters than the other major candidates, followed by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

African American

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase identifies as African American?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Kamala Harris/Cory Booker 44%
  • Bill de Blasio 35%
  • Mike Gravel/Marianne Williamson 33%
  • Buttigieg 32%, Biden 32%, Sanders 31%, Klobuchar 31%, Gabbard 30%, O’Rourke 29%, Castro 27%, Hickenlooper 26%, Yang 24%

Least: Elizabeth Warren 23%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as African American.

Among the major candidates, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker can be expected to have the easiest time attracting undecided African American supporters, while Elizabeth Warren may have a harder time.

Hispanic

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase identifies as Hispanic?

August 2019 Leaders

  • de Blasio 50%
  • Castro 46%
  • O’Rourke 29%
  • Biden 23%, Gravel 23%, Buttigieg 21%, Sanders 20%, Yang 19%, Gabbard 18%, Warren 17%, Williamson 17%, Booker 15%, Harris 14%, Hickenlooper 10%, Klobuchar 7%

Least: Klobuchar 7%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as Hispanic.

Among the major candidates, Sanders and Buttigieg can be expected to have an easier time attracting undecided Hispanic supporters, while Cory Booker and Kamala Harris may have a harder time.

Single

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase is single?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Mike Gravel/Andrew Yang 45%
  • Marianne Williamson 38%
  • Bill de Blasio/Tulsi Gabbard 36%
  • Sanders 35%, Biden 34%, Booker 33%, O’Rourke 32%, Warren 31%, Harris 30%, Castro 30%, Buttigieg 29%, Hickenlooper 27%

Least: Amy Klobuchar 26%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as single.

Among the major candidates, Bernie Sanders may have an easier time than most attracting people who are single, while Pete Buttigieg is the major candidate of choice for people in relationships.

Engaged/Married

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase is engaged or married?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Amy Klobuchar 63%
  • John Hickenlooper 60%
  • Kamala Harris 57%
  • Buttigieg 55%, Booker 55%, Castro 55%, O’Rourke 53%, Warren 53%, de Blasio 51%, Biden 50%, Williamson 48%, Gabbard 47%, Sanders 45%, Gravel 34%

Least: Andrew Yang 30%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as engaged or married.

Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker have the highest percentages among major candidate of people who are engaged or married.

Grad School

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase went to grad school?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Pete Buttigieg 24%
  • John Hickenlooper/Julian Castro 22%
  • Amy Klobuchar/Beto O’Rourke 18%
  • Harris 17%, Warren 17%, Williamson 17%, Booker 16%, de Blasio 16%, Gabbard 15%, Sanders 14%, Biden 12%

Least: Mike Gravel/Andrew Yang 10%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and went to grad school.

Pete Buttigieg will have the easiest time among all of the candidates attracting highly-educated undecided voters, while Biden and Bernie Sanders will have the hardest times.

Women 18-34

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase identifies as female between 18-34?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Bernie Sanders 25%
  • Beto O’Rourke 24%
  • Andrew Yang 23%
  • Warren 20%, Castro 20%, de Blasio 18%, Gravel 18%, Williamson 17%, Biden 16%, Buttigieg 16%, Harris 14%, Booker 13%, Gabbard 12%, Klobuchar 9%,

Least: John Hickenlooper 7%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as female.

Bernie Sanders has the biggest contingency of women aged 18-34 of any candidate. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, at the present time, are the most unappealing major candidates to that demographic.

Women 35-54

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase identifies as female 35-54?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Marianne Williamson 35%
  • Beto O’Rourke 26%
  • Bill de Blasio 25%
  • Booker 24%, Harris 23%, Buttigieg 23%, Warren 21%, Castro 18%, Biden 18%, Sanders 17%, Hickenlooper 16%, Klobuchar 14%, Gabbard 13%, Yang 6%

Least: Mike Gravel 5%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as female aged 35-54.

Of the major candidates, Cory Booker’s standout constituency at this time is women aged 35-54, with Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg right behind him. Bernie Sanders does the worst among this age group, which is interesting since he’s by far the strongest candidate among women 18-34.

Women 55+

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase identifies as female aged 55+?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Amy Klobuchar 46%
  • John Hickenlooper 36%
  • Cory Booker 30%
  • Williamson 29%, Harris 28%, Castro 25%, Warren 21%, Biden 21%, Sanders 15%, O’Rourke 14%, Gabbard 14%, de Blasio 14%, Buttigieg 12%, Gravel 10%

Least: Andrew Yang 3%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as female aged 55+.

Cory Booker and Kamala Harris clean up with women over the age of 55, while Sanders and Buttigieg are the least liked among all the major candidates.

Men 18-34

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase identifies as male aged 18-34?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Andrew Yang 50%
  • Mike Gravel 43%
  • Tulsi Gabbard 23%
  • Gabbard 23%, Buttigieg 21%, Sanders 21%, de Blasio 19%, Biden 17%, Castro 17%, O’Rourke 16%, Warren 14%, John Hickenlooper 12%, Booker 9%, Harris 8%, Klobuchar 7%

Least: Williamson 6%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as male aged 18-34.

It’s less dramatic than with women aged 18-34, but Sanders is the best-performing candidate when it comes to having men aged 18-34 in his fanbase, followed by Buttigieg.

Men 35-54

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase identifies as male aged 35-54?

August 2019 Leaders

  • Tulsi Gabbard 23%
  • Pete Buttigieg 20%
  • de Blasio 17%, Biden 17%
  • O’Rourke 15%, Hickenlooper 14%, Gravel 14%, Warren 13%, Castro 13%, Yang 13%, Booker 13%, Harris 13%, Klobuchar 8%

Least: Marianne Williamson 6%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as male aged 35-54.

Pete Buttgieg’s core constituency is as the standout candidate for Gen-X men, followed by Joe Biden among the major candidates.

Men 55+

What % of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase identifies as male aged 55+?

August 2019 Leaders

  • John Hickenlooper 17%
  • Amy Klobuchar 16%
  • Tulsi Gabbard 15%
  • Harris 14%, Biden 12%, Booker 12%, Gravel 12%, Warren 10%, Sanders 8%, de Blasio 8%, Castro 8%, Buttigieg 7%, O’Rourke 6%, Williamson 6%

Least: Andrew Yang 4%

Based on percentage of each candidates’ Facebook fanbase or has engaged with their content and identifies as male aged 55+.

Among the major candidates, Kamala Harris’ base is strong with men over the age of 55, followed by Joe Biden and Cory Booker. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg do worst with this group.

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