By Adam Pagnucco.
Political handicapping is a very subjective exercise. That said, there are a handful of objective measures that give clues to the state of a race: fundraising, endorsements, surrogates, communications (like number of mailers sent and TV time purchased), and more. The jury is still out on the importance of social media followers. But if Facebook followings matter at all, Andrew Friedson is waaaaaay ahead on that measure in the Council District 1 election.
As of Monday, September 11, here are the Facebook followers on each of the District 1 candidates’ campaign pages.
Andrew Friedson: 4,822
Pete Fosselman: 461
Bill Cook: 224
Reggie Oldak: 154
Other candidates: no pages
That’s right, Friedson has almost six times as many followers as his competitors COMBINED. And they have all been running for months before he got in.
One reason why Facebook followers are discounted by many is that they don’t reflect actual voters in the relevant jurisdiction. They can come from all over Planet Earth. So your author asked Friedson to provide a geographic distribution of his Facebook followers. According to data from his page, roughly two-thirds of Friedson’s followers reported cities of residence. Of those, 1,490 lived in Maryland, 971 lived in MoCo and 462 lived in the District 1 areas of Bethesda, North Bethesda, Potomac and Kensington. An additional 700 reported living in D.C., but some of those people could actually live in the Maryland suburbs.
This is an impressive campaign page following for someone who just declared for the race a month ago. It reflects Friedson’s ability to tap into a number of networks, including his friends and family as a MoCo native; his college network from the University of Maryland (where he was a class President); his professional network from his time as an aide to Comptroller Peter Franchot and Congressional candidate David Trone; and his non-profit networks stemming from his service as a Board Member on the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the MoCo Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families. These are real assets for any candidate for office. And Friedson can leverage them through social media to raise money, spread his message and build name recognition in a way the other candidates can’t (yet) match.
Reggie Oldak has shown early success in the public campaign finance system but Andrew Friedson is off to a fast start. Let the rest of the field beware!