On the campaign trail: In which I predict the outcome of the New West race and declare myself mayor

Julie Maclellan

All right, New West, the numbers are in, and here's the result:

Your mayor is Jonathan Cote.

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Your councillors are Chuck Puchmayr, Mary Trentadue, Tej Kainth, Marge Ashdown, Jaimie McEvoy and David Brett (or, arguably, Patrick Johnstone).

Your school board is Michael Ewen, Jeremy Perry, MaryAnn Mortensen, Jonina Campbell, Casey Cook, Cort Ray Caldwell and Mark Gifford.

Well, that would be the result, at any rate, if we could forecast the election results based purely on the number of Twitter followers each candidate has. Which of course would be foolhardy on many fronts.

But I like ranking stuff, so I figured I'd try a new social media ranking this week based purely on quantity, rather than quality.

My previous two blog posts about social media (see them here and here) have concentrated mainly on the quality of candidates' use of social media, regardless of how many friends or followers they have. This week, I have decided it's strictly about the numbers - specifically, how many Twitter followers each candidate has.

(I'm leaving Facebook out of this analysis for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that there are a number of different approaches to its use. Some candidates simply have personal profiles and  collect "friends," and some of their privacy settings are such that I can't see how many friends they have. Some have pages that collect "likes," but comparing page likes to profile friends - even when I can see that information - isn't really a true comparison.)

So I'm sticking to Twitter, with one easy question: How many followers do our candidates have?

(Note: This being the world of social media, numbers are always fluid. These were the latest numbers on Thursday morning.)

 

MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Jonathan Cote 1,177

James Crosty 562

Vladimir Krasnogor 271

Wayne Wright 51

 

 

COUNCIL CANDIDATES

Chuck Puchmayr 1,120

Mary Trentadue 1,101

Tej Kainth 871

Marge Ashdown 662

Jaimie McEvoy 345

David Brett 314

Patrick Johnstone* 252

John Ashdown* 93

Mike Folka 72

Harm Woldring 70

Lorrie Williams 52

Gerry Liu 49

Bill Harper 43

Catherine Cartwright 40

Scott McIntosh 27

Tracey Block 11

Matt Kadioglu 1

Calvin Donnelly n/a

Raj Gupta n/a

Gavin Palmer n/a

Jim Bell n/a

 

*NOTE: Candidates indicated with an asterisk have more than one Twitter handle. The number reflects the handle that appears to be the primary campaign identity. Patrick Johnstone's @NWimby handle also has 921 followers, and John Ashdown's @ashdowneagle handle also has 113 followers. (Which is where the comment about Johnstone making council came from, since if you add his two handles together he'd have the most followers. But we can't really do that because some of those  followers may be repeats. And we begin to see why even the numbers are a grey area.)

 

 

SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES

 

Michael Ewen 1,349

Jeremy Perry 958

MaryAnn Mortensen 652

Jonina Campbell 638

Casey Cook 481

Cort Ray Caldwell 385

Mark Gifford 282

James Pepa 201

James Janzen 176

Kelly Slade-Kerr 164

Glen Armstrong 36

Jim Bell - n/a

Rajiv Pandey - n/a

 

 

 

With all this data in mind, a few observations:

* Incumbents tend to have more followers (with some exceptions). It makes sense - they have a higher profile, and they've generally been around longer to gather more followers. One newcomer to the New West race, Mary Trentadue, also has a large number of followers, but this is unsurprising when you consider she was a councillor in North Van in a previous life.

* Those who have been on Twitter longer have tend to have more followers. It stands to reason that those who only recently set up Twitter profiles for the sake of the campaign simply haven't made contact with as many people yet.

* Those who are engaged with another cause or passion tend to have more followers - witness people like Patrick Johnstone, who's been blogging at his NWIMBY (New West, In My Backyard) for a number of years, or Cort Ray Caldwell, who's a writer on food sensitivity issues (his handle is @Dairyfreeliving).

* Those who have built up a Twitter following professionally (e.g. Marge Ashdown's real estate career) tend to have more followers.

* The number of followers doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of use of social media. Some candidates with low numbers of followers (e.g. Mike Folka, Harm Woldring) are in my opinion using social media well - if they stay with it, they will undoubtedly see those numbers grow.

 

And let's face it, even a cursory look at the rankings above shows that numbers don't tell the whole story.

If they did, we'd have to say incumbent mayor Wayne Wright won't be a factor on Election Day - and we know that's not true, since regardless of who wins, he has to be seen as a frontrunner. It would write off incumbent councillors like Bill Harper and Lorrie Williams, or trustee James Janzen - who, again, have to be considered well in the mix for seats on Nov. 15.

And it would also discount a few newcomers who are showing some campaign strength (Kelly Slade-Kerr comes to mind).

None of which I would want to do if I were placing bets on the outcome of the New West race.

Oh, and by the way, I have at this moment 1,849 followers on Twitter.

Which means that, based on my rankings above, I am going to become mayor, city councillor and a school board trustee.

See? I knew this numbers analysis couldn't be trusted.

But, in all seriousness, what do you think? How seriously do you take the numbers when it comes to social media? Should candidates with small followings be working to bring those numbers up, or does it even matter? Will the numbers we see above have any correlation at the polls on Nov. 15?

Feel free to comment here, or find me on Twitter @juliemaclellan, or Facebook (www.facebook.com/JulieLMacLellan).

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