What if everything you knew about politics came from the internet? What if people based their vote on which politician was the most popular on Facebook or Bebo? It’s unlikely and a bit of a nightmare scenario really but on-line sources of information are becoming increasingly important for voters.
To test my vague theory in New Zealand politics, I searched on Facebook for each party leader and examined the groups supporting and, in some cases opposing, them. Here are the results:
John Key (National) – 14,388 supporters. Interestingly the “I HEART John Key” and “Scientologists for John Key” groups have exactly the same number of members. I’m presuming they are the same people.
Helen Clark (United Nations) – 5, 408 supporters.
Phil Goff (Labour) – 1,112 members of a group wanting him to be Prime Minister in 2011 and 3 in a quite different group who think he is a DILF. Look up what it means at your peril.
Rodney Hide (Act) – 719 supporters.
Russel Norman (Green) – 567 supporters. His on-line presence grew significantly when I spelled his first name correctly in the search field.
Metiria Turei (Green) – 339 supporters.
Winston Peters (Retired) – 236 supporters for Prime Minister, 11 supporters for next year’s Dancing with the Stars. Both quite terrifying prospects really.
Jim Anderton (Progressive) – 17 supporters, much higher than expected.
Pita Sharples (Maori Party) – No Facebook groups supporting him but a couple which are worryingly opposed (and in apparent breach of Facebook policies).
Tariana Turia (Maori Party) – No Facebook groups supporting or opposing her. There is one offering to be a support group for Mrs Turia going back to school but the tag is “just for fun – outlandish statements.”
Peter Dunne (United Future) – Mr Dunne does not have an official supporters group. The group “I lost my phone drinking in London – numbers please!!! (Peter Dunne)” is almost certainly not him. Peter Dunne does not strike me as the kind of man who, under any circumstances, would use three exclamation points.