What do Democrats, Republicans 'like'? OSU researcher finds interesting Facebook results
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Monday, November 05, 2012
11/05/12 at 7:21 AM
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An OSU faculty member is using the Facebook profiles of politically minded Oklahomans to get a better picture of the state's Republicans and Democrats - and he's coming up with some unexpected results.
Sooner Democrats really love their pets and really like the Philbrook Museum of Art.
Oklahoma Republicans really love their churches and the great outdoors.
And they all love QuikTrip and Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
As the final hours of the election campaign tick away, political workers on both sides of the aisle may be looking for new ideas to get inside the minds of the voters.
Jerry Rackley, executive in residence at the Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business marketing department, said he'd be surprised if a closer reading of Facebook profiles isn't a common political tool in the near future.
"I don't doubt that they will use this information at all," Rackley said. "I think it's logical, it makes sense and it's so easy to use and sensible. I don't think anyone is using it yet only because I suspect they don't know about it."
Facebook is a huge social network with more than 1 billion active users worldwide.
"It's the largest database in the world of consumer preferences," said Rackley, a 51-year-old consultant who has brought his years of corporate and independent marketing work into the OSU classroom. "The problem is, we've never been able to get at them."
Rackley uses the Wisdom Professional social intelligence application as a tool for drilling into that Facebook universe.
The Wisdom application is a voluntary network within Facebook that gives marketers an enormous sample group for testing out ideas, he said.
Some 16.1 million Facebook users around the world have agreed to share their Facebook information with Wisdom analysts, he said. About a third of those people are in the United States and Canada.
"This basically allows you to use Facebook as an on-demand focus group that you can ask unlimited questions of," he said.
Creating a comparable sample size for study through traditional marketing methods would be incredible difficult and expensive, he said.
Peering into the Wisdom audience, Rackley found there were some 100,000 Democrats and 78,000 Republicans, but delving further into the details he found there were 869 Oklahoma Republicans and 836 Oklahoma Democrats, still a pretty good-size sample for marketing, he said.
Some of the interesting results from Rackley's efforts:
Oklahoma Democrats on Facebook are more likely to describe themselves as pet lovers than any other trait. They do so at an affinity level of 6.2, meaning they are 6.2 times more likely to have that trait than others in the Wisdom universe.
Republicans, on the other hand, describe themselves as religious people more often than any other trait, an affinity level of 8.3.
Both Republicans and Democrats describe themselves strongly as social activists (although Rackley suspects they may have different definitions of that term), deal hunters and budget shoppers.
But Democrats are more likely to thinks of themselves as food lovers, while Republicans are self-described outdoor enthusiasts.
"What do you do with this data? If I were running for office on the Republican ticket I might look at this and say, 'I need to go campaign outside of Petsmart or Petco and try to win over the hearts of these people who are pet lovers,' " he said.
Some of the partisan affinities aren't that surprising.
Republicans link to Gov. Mary Fallin, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn and pundit Bill O'Reilly. Democrats are high on state Rep. Al McAffrey, former candidate for governor Jari Askins and the Comedy Central mock news program "The Daily Show."
But some other connections are a little more puzzling.
"I can't figure this one out - The Philbrook Museum - people who are Democrats in Oklahoma in this sample are 886 times more likely to have the affinity with The Philbrook Museum than everyone else," Rackley said. "Explain that to me. I can't.
"The other thing is, I don't know what's up with this but Sam Bradford's got 399 affinity. By the way, he's equally loved by Republicans and Democrats."
Both sides also love the Oklahoma City Thunder and the QuikTrip brand of convenience stores.
"What's with QuikTrip?" he said. "QT is a fantastic corporation with a strong brand I admire. I simply find it curious that it has so much affinity with both groups. The folks at QT should be delighted. I just wish I could explain the connection. I can't."
Casting a ballot
In-person absentee voting continues 8 a.m. to 6 p.m Monday at county election board offices. In Tulsa County, the election board is located at 555 N. Denver Ave.
On Tuesday, regular voting at precinct polling places is set for 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can locate your polling place online on the State Election Board's web site: tulsaworld.com/votinglocator.
Voters should bring a government- or tribal-issued, photo identification with them. To be valid, the ID must have an expiration date and must not have expired. Alternatively, a county election board-issued voter card is acceptable identification. Voters who do not have an acceptable voter ID can still vote by signing an affidavit attesting to their identity and completing a provisional ballot.
All Oklahoma voters will have a presidential race pitting electors for President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, a congressional race, a retention ballot for 12 appellate-level judges and six state questions on their ballot.
Many voters also will have legislative and local races to decide, but there are no statewide state offices on the ballot this year.
In Tulsa County, there are no county offices on the ballot, but elsewhere some voters will decide races for sheriff, county clerk, court clerk and county commissioner.
Tulsa County voters also will decide the fate of Vision2, a two-part, $748.8 million 0.6 percent sales tax question with the funding for economic development projects and quality-of-life improvements throughout the county.
In Tulsa's City Council Districts 1 and 7, City Council races also will appear on the ballot.
Original Print Headline: Facebook used for political sampling
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308