Skip to main content

Social Networks and Voting

Voter turnout among young people in this country is notoriously low, with just under a third of eligible voters under 30 casting a ballot in the November 2018 election–the highest voter turnout for a midterm election in documented history. People have brought up many potential solutions to this issue, but the most important one may have nothing to do with public policy and everything to do with social networks. One study, for example, demonstrated that messages about voting on Facebook were only effective at increasing voter turnout when the messages were paired with pictures of Facebook friends who voted. Several apps have been created to tap into the potential of friendship as a motivating factor to vote, including an app that informs users when someone from their contact list votes and an app that sends personalized messages about political campaigns from one friend to another. There is some evidence that apps like these can be effective; a couple have been found to increase the likelihood that a user’s friend will vote by 25%-50%.

This article discusses the particular importance of identifying leaders within a community that are connected to a lot of other people–in other words, the cores of a community’s social network. Through these select people, who are referred to as being “at the center of the densest nodes,” the greatest number of other eligible voters can be reached. Not only that, but in addition to having more connections in general, leaders within a community will often have especially strong connections to other people. This is relevant because the extent to which one friend can influence another friend in voting is partially determined by the strength of the connection in question. Finally, a social network in which two friends have voted and one friend has not is unstable, and the pressure resulting from the two friends who voted may push the third friend into voting as well.


Leave a Reply

Blogging Calendar

September 2019
« Aug   Oct »