February 11, 2007

The results are in!

Yes, the time has come to reveal the results of my Facebook experiment thingy!

Basically, I’ve recorded the number of friends each of the candidates for the ‘main’ posts (as I couldn’t be arsed to do them all) on Facebook at the start of the campaign (02/02/07) and at the end (08/02/07), and the numerical and percentage changes of their friendship numbers between these two. Below are screenshots of the Excel Spreadsheet with all the really exciting figures on. First up, the potential Presidents:

President

Right, here we can see the most popular before and after the campaign in Joe Kirby, the biggest numerical and percentage increase in popularity is that of Joe Kirby, and the winner is (you guessed it) Joe Kirby! What a surprise! Note: James Clarke’s number of friends was not viewable.

Now, Education Officer:

Education Officer

OK, there’s only two people in this category: Pistachio and Pam ‘Let’s ban 9am lectures ‘cos I once had one and didn’t really like it that much’ Stallard. Anyway, as above, we have the most popular before and after being Pistachio, the biggest increase in Popularity going to Pistachio and, funnily enough, the winner being Pistachio. Is there a pattern emerging I wonder?

FDSO:

FDSO

Matt Chapman has the largest popularity increase, Andy McEwan has the biggest percentage popularity increase, but the (vastly) more popular before and after the campaign is Tom Callow, and the winner is Tom Callow. Did I hear someone say popularity contest? The results so far are seeming to be screaming it at me!

CDCO. Note: due to a cock up by me, I failed to find ‘Mitz Mistry’ on Facebook the first time I looked (if she’s only use her actual name in her campaign, it would’ve been helpful!), so there are no figures for her for the first time:

CDCO

Hmm, maybe I’m wrong. James ‘The Great’ Gadsby Peet wins, which completely doesn’t correlate with my predictions at all. My results suggest Tom Precious would come out on top, or Kate Hitchcock. But then again, I never even noticed their campaigns, so it just goes to show what a high profile campaign can do, despite some dubious policies. (I for one would love to know how much subsidy Stagecoach/Travel Coventry would want for free post-event buses to cover driver wages and the lost night fares!).

Next up, Wefare and Equal Opps:
W&EO

Nope, back to the expected again, a landslide in all categories by Ed Callow. Just a couple of two-candidates-standing posts left:

Sports

SSDO

In the Sports Officer category, we have all signs pointing to Ali Moore, but then Kate ‘Cardboard Poster’ Bennet makes a comeback in the final moments and wins. And SSDO-wise, it doesn’t go the expected way entirely, with signs pointing to both of the candidates (it actually going to Tom Lindsay).

So, to answer the question: Is the Students Union Elections basically a popularity contest?

Answer: Sort of.


- 12 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Any chance of some bigger images? It’s a struggle to read thos tables, even after clicking the “hyperlink” whatever to enlarge them. Thanks!

    12 Feb 2007, 10:19

  2. Anonymous

    If it helps, Lucy Ayrton and Tommy Precious are more ‘extreme’ than most of the other candidates, which probably skews things a bit in regard to politics.

    12 Feb 2007, 13:37

  3. Although I was initially arguing against facebook being used as a campaign tool I’m not sure where I stand now. I don’t yet know if we had a bigger turnout than usual – I’d guess it’s about the same, I also don’t know whether it helped any candidate particually. More likely we just pissed a lot of students off with 20,000 group invites and then they were as lazy as ever and forgot to vote or more worryingly didn’t know when or how.

    I’ve heard “Have to vote for my friend” or “We’re just voting for the first person to come to our kitchen” countless times this week as well as “I’m just voting for names I like”!! I’m not particually surprised though, and that worries me more! So back to your question, you’ll find that a fair few of the increases in friends were candidates adding each other. It was a good week for those who took the time to socialise with the others standing and whether you won or lost it’s been a week where many of us have learnt a hell of a lot. A proportion of winning it is popularity, a lot is random, a fair bit is on what you promise in your manifesto and the rest is s’loads of hard work.

    12 Feb 2007, 14:23

  4. If the images appear too small, try saving them to your computer, then opening them in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (or whatever the equivelnt is if you’re one of those non-conformist types who is using a Mac/Linux just because it’s not Microsoft). That saves me any effort.

    12 Feb 2007, 15:23

  5. They look much better on a larger screen computer! Ah well, my laptop is just crap!

    12 Feb 2007, 17:09

  6. “Next up, Wefare and Equal Opps: Nope, back to the expected again, a landslide in all categories by Tom Callow”
    Lets face it we all occasionally mix the two up :P

    12 Feb 2007, 20:10

  7. Damn! Didn’t notice my error! It’s now been corrected!

    13 Feb 2007, 16:49

  8. Dan

    One of the errors was corrected.

    14 Feb 2007, 18:08

  9. Rob

    Hmm, maybe I’m wrong. James ‘The Great’ Gadsby Peet wins, which completely doesn’t correlate with my predictions at all. (I for one would love to know how much subsidy Stagecoach/Travel Coventry would want for free post-event buses to cover driver wages and the lost night fares!).

    I saw his manifesto and just thought wtf?? How the hell is the union going to pay for this lot, perhaps scrapping the re-build might just about do it!

    I’m sure most people saw this and thought “yey, free transport” and so voted for him. It will NEVER happen, at least not with public transport, and although I live off campus, I’m sure there’d be no way in hell on campus users would want their union funds going to this, I definitely wouldn’t.

    14 Feb 2007, 23:05

  10. Tom Callow

    Ian, this is actually a really interesting thing that you’ve done. Pre-elections, various bodies within the Union – predominantly Elections Group – were considering whether to use Facebook at all and in doing so, were thinking about the kind of impact it could have.

    In many ways, I can entirely appreciate the ‘popularity contest’ angle, as it obviously feels like that to many voters/candidates at some points. However, having run in this election, I can safely say that it’s far more to do with effective campaigning in my opinion. We don’t have precise demographics, but I’m willing to bet that a significant proportion of the voters are first-year students. Most Sabbatical candidates aren’t first year students and thus don’t usually have that many first-year friends on Facebook – I know I don’t.

    I – along with almost every other candidate in that election – was probably spending between 12 and 15 hours every day going into lectures and kitchens, explaining my manifesto and talking to students.

    Campaigning is really what wins an election, not how many Facebook friends you have or gain.

    22 Feb 2007, 12:02

  11. Tom: To be honest, I was just curious to find out if there was in fact any relationship between the Facebook-popularity of the candidates and the eventual winner. I never ruled out the fact that effective campaigning can have an impact – in fact I awknowledge this for James Gadsby Peet’s victory as a possibility. However, it still does seem interesting that in 4 of the 7 categories, the most popular person ends up winning.

    22 Feb 2007, 13:31

  12. The Ruthless Analyst

    I often hear people say “oh, elections are just a popularity contest”. My reply, as a Psychologist, is often “so what?”.
    There are many attributes associated with ‘generic popularity’ which actually mirror those attributes associated with good candidates.
    For instance, being a good communicator, a strong leader, or being able to bring people together to settle disputes, are qualities often identified in ‘popular’ people from their childhood relationships onwards.
    Of course, there is always talk of policies that candidates in elections put forward, but in reality the very core of their work (whether it is in a Students’ Union, or a national organisation) will not be directly related to their manifesto, but rather to keep the organisation successful, and to make good decisions, frequently and consistently.
    What I am trying to say here is that we should not be so concerned that it is often the most ‘popular’ candidates who win the elections, since the personal qualities that drive their popularity are often the same as the personal qualities that will drive their ability to successfully direct and oversee an organisation like a Students’ Union.

    16 Apr 2007, 01:18


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