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Nielsen study: Rubio won “online buzz” contest before he won 2010 Senate race

Posted Apr 4, 2012 by William March

Updated Apr 4, 2012 at 01:03 PM

The Nielsen company, best known for TV ratings, has found in a study that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio won the “online buzz” surrounding the 2010 Senate race before he won the actual election.

Nielsen studied what it called online buzz—including blog posts and comments, online news sites, video and image sites, message boards and Twitter posts—in four 2010 elections in four different states. The company was trying to find out whether online buzz affects, or correlates with, election outcomes. In other words, does the candidate who generates the most online buzz win the election?

Its key finding: In three of the four races examined, the most frequently mentioned candidate on social media also won the seat.

In the case of Rubio, who ran against Democrat Kendrick Meek and no-party candidate Charlie Crist, the outcome was:

Rubio: 40 percent of the buzz, and 49 percent of the vote.

Crist: 35 percent of the buzz and 30 percent of the vote.

Meek: 25 percent of the buzz and 20 percent of the vote.

The only real problem with the study: They couldn’t tell whether the buzz caused the candidates to win, or whether the candidate’s leading status generated the buzz.

Buzz didn’t appear to affect turnout, Nielsen said—the two states with higher turnouts in the study also had the lower buzz. And the parties split the buzz equally, about 50 percent each for Republicans and Democrats.


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