Is your Facebook feed nothing but politics? In Maine, probably

It’s one thing to get bombarded by political advertisements like never before, but political chatter in Maine’s making things personal, at least for Facebook users.

Facebook provided The Washington Post’s Darla Cameron with data showing nearly one in five Facebook users in Maine have either posted about the elections or liked a candidates’ page from July 10 to Oct. 19.

That’s the most of any state and even more than Washington, D.C. 

Perhaps that’s a little dramatic — with the italics and all — but it’s the reason I’ve not posted at Widgets and Digits in more than a month, so it’s personal here, too. (More on this later.)

As for the Post post, it seems age might be a factor in Maine’s high ranking, but that doesn’t seem to explain it all.

[Peanut gallery observation warning.]

That is, the data shows that people 35 and older dominated the social media political chatter nationally. With a median age of 43.9 and counting, that’s right in Maine’s wheelhouse.

That doesn’t entirely explain why Alaska, with a median age of 33.2 was second, though a closely watched Senate race there surely helps.

Clearly, the number of active users is a factor, too, as well as the prominence of the issues at hand. In Maine, with a tight 2nd District U.S. House race, a hotly contested three-way race for governor and the controversial bear baiting, trapping and hounding referendum, that seems to make sense.

But that’s coming from me, who’s been trying to keep pace with the head-spinning rush of money from campaigns and PACs that undoubtedly have also played some role in boosting the Facebook political banter.

[Shameless plug warning.]

While we’re on the subject, if you’re looking to cut through what’s surely Facebook fog, you should keep an eye on our State & Capitol blog for updates leading up to campaign season, as well as our Politics page. And, of course, you should follow State House Bureau Chief Chris Cousins, politics reporter Mario Moretto and our politics account on Twitter.

[All over.]

To explain myself to followers of this blog, the State & Capitol is also where I’ve directed most of my blogging energies through October — hence the hiatus.

But as a way of accounting for my whereabouts, here’s a rundown of what you’ve missed (with visualizations!).

Political action and party committees are making it rain. Altogether, PACs and political party committees spent more than $10 million on the gubernatorial race alone and across all races that number was already triple the amount spent in 2010 as of mid-October. That $10 million is entirely separate from the nearly $7.5 million spent by each candidates’ campaign. Add to that millions spent by outside groups in the Senate race and in the battle for the 2nd Congressional District and you’ve got a whole mess of ads coming your way.

And a lot of that spending is negative. At least half of the spending by the most active PACs in the governors’ race has been negative, about $53 of every $100 spent by outside groups in Maine Senate races has been for opposition ads and things are almost entirely nasty for outside groups fighting for the U.S. House seat vacated by Democrat Mike Michaud.

Just see for yourself (as of Oct. 16):

If you just say it enough times, it will come true. It’s not a shock that the most frequently used words in campaign ads (this is now missing a few of the latest ads) are “I”, “Maine” and “governor.” But there are a couple of other goods and telling ones in there, too, like “welfare”, “jobs” and “together.”

And keep your eyes out. There’s millions more ready to roll out this week as Election Day prepares to rear its gilded head.


Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.