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The politics of Facebook ‘likes’

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Pollsters are furiously burning up phone lines not only to predict the outcome of the election, but also to figure out what kind of voters reside in each camp.

But they could save a lot of money and do an instant poll through Facebook.

A Facebook app from MicroStrategy called Wisdom, also at Wisdom.com, mines the “likes” of the Facebook users who have signed up for their service and their friends. That gives Wisdom a current reach of about 16 million of Facebook’s 1 billion users.

Within that subset you can do your own “fan analysis” into the billions of likes expressed in Facebook to compare the preferences of Barack Obama fans and the Mitt Romney supporters.

Obama’s 30 million followers far outnumber Romney’s 9 million, but Obama’s been around for an eternity in Facebook years and Romney is trending strong.

Sometimes the connections are obvious, but others surprise. It does not seem surprising that folks who “like” Romney are more likely than most folks to “like” Republicans and conservative celebrities like House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Bill O’Reilly, former first lady Laura Bush and California businesswoman and failed gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.

But Obama’s supporters’ favorite folks do not fall into a corresponding ideological pattern. Folks who like Obama are more likely than most folks to favor a series of pop stars, such as Taraji P. Henson, Maxwell, Maya Angelou, Tyler Perry, Jamie Foxx, Mary J. Blige and Cornel West. The pop vs. ideological difference is obvious.

You can also slice and dice the fans into smaller slivers. So you can see what television shows are most popular with female Obama fans in the 36-to-45 age cohort in Virgnia.

Wisdom doesn’t measure every Facebook member and “like.” It gathers the data from people who have joined the network and the friends of those people, said Richard Krueger, senior director of marketing at MicroStrategy.

Facebook’s younger, better educated universe does not represent the world perfectly. And when you join the Wisdom network, you pitch your own information into the data being mined by others to sell candy bars and trucks and makeup.

The network will also analyze your own Facebook friend network to reveal your group’s favorite books, movies and bars, for example.

Krueger said MicroStrategy is coming out with a module that will let you analyze the political leanings of your friends, as well.

© The Washington Post Company