Comparing Facebook Audiences of Political Candidates

At work recently, I've been using Facebook Ad Planner data as a way to get a high level understanding of audiences. The Facebook Ad Planner data let's you see the potential size of audiences defined and segmented as many ways as you would like. 

I thought it might be interesting to compare 2016 political candidates this way. It took some time to compile all the data (yes, it was manual entry into excel, and yes it was pain), but the comparisons shed some light onto different candidates and their audience bases. 

A few findings emerged from the data -

1. Facebook reach leans a little liberal. There is a potential reach of 72 million for 18-65 US adults whose behavior indicates to Facebook that they lean liberal or very liberal compared to 57 million who lean conservative or very conservative. 

2. Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Ted Cruz have the largest potential reach on Facebook. Not too surprising that the candidates who are the most "extreme" or "radical", yet who still get plenty of media coverage, have the largest potential reach. 

3. Bernie Sanders and Jeb Bush do especially well with Millennials, while Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton do well with Boomers. 

4. Those with a Masters or Doctorate degree like Bernie Sanders, while high net worth individuals align with Marco Rubio. 

5. Republican candidates connect with Homeowners, while single people seem to drift towards Bernie Sanders. 

6. Trump supporters are the most likely to have an AOL email address, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters lean Android while Jeb and Rubio supporters lean iPhone. 

Click through the story below to explore the data (View on Desktop or Tablet, too wide for mobile, sorry) -

What does this all mean? 

Across all categories looked at : Net Worth, Income, Ethnicity, Education Level, Relationship Status, and Technology Preferences -  Donald Trump's audience matches the pattern of overall Facebook fans 18-65 in the US most closely. This makes sense because he has the largest reach of any candidate, implying that his audience would be the most representative, but at the same time it is still a little unnerving. If it held true that a larger audience meant you were more representative of Facebook overall, Bernie should have the second highest correlation coefficient with the Facebook baseline, but that belongs to Ted Cruz. This data also may be skewed by the fact that  people may have liked Trump on Facebook before he was a presidential hopeful, and just a celebrity. Finally - Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are remarkably similar in their audiences overall. 

Donald Trump is the candidate whose Facebook audience matches best with US Adults 18-65 on Facebook. We get what we deserve I guess. Blue indicates a p value less than .01.

So maybe Trump is the candidate we deserve, or Facebook reach is based on who is the most talked about, radical, or noteworthy and not who is most likely to become president. Let's hope so? 


Daniel Prager