Our political elections are increasingly moving online where candidates are connecting to voters through social media. We saw it in 2008, 2010, 2012 and overwhelmingly in 2014.

The proportion of American voters who follow political figures on social media has nearly tripled since 2010 – up to 16 percent of registered voters from only 6 percent four years ago.

It has even been speculated that Facebook’s encouragement to vote can influence the outcome of elections. Social networks skew young and female: two reliably progressive-leaning demographics. Even if Facebook distributed its “I Voted” button equally to its users (which it did not), it might still bring more liberal users to the polls than conservative ones (source). But interestingly, the results did not skew that way.

In our Arkansas mid-term elections on November 4th, there was a lot more conversation online than there was during the 2012 election. I had the opportunity both in 2012 and 2014 to cover the social media conversation trends for the election on KATV Channel 7 in Little Rock. In 2012, the online conversation around Arkansas elections was negligible. In 2014, the conversation was alive with both Democrats and Republicans vocal online. While the views skewed more liberal than conservative online, the vote skewed conservative.

While social media influences the conversation, I don’t believe we are to the point where social medial influences the election results. Because the demographics using social media against versus of the voting public don’t quite align yet, we are not going to be able to use social media in place of exit polls as predictors of the outcome. Until then, those on social media are only influencing like-minded voters.

My tweets from election tell the story – who was talking, what they were talking about and general trends of the evening.