It’s been a week since Governor McCrory signed HB2. So, how are things looking on social media? On Twitter, there’s been outrage. But I actually think to get a more accurate gauge of things, you have to look at Facebook – in particular, Facebook ‘likes’. Facebook is less millennial-oriented, less likely to be dominated by political hacks, and more representative of the population at large.
Let’s take a look at Pat McCrory’s page. He has 121,900 likes (up 3.8% from last week). He has 4,412 new page likes in the past week (and that’s up 163.4% over the week before that). For whatever reason, over 4,000 people this week took the time to register support for the governor and ‘like’ his page.
Now compare Roy Cooper. This is his first gubernatorial campaign, so he doesn’t have nearly as many likes as McCrory – 34,654. That’s still up 17.1% from last week. And in the past week, he’s gotten 5,071 new page likes (and that’s up 249.5% over the week before that). That’s more than McCrory, but not much more.
So, with all the acrimony over the transgender bathroom debate, the two gubernatorial candidates received a roughly even share of new Facebook likes over the past week – with a slight edge to the Attorney General. That’s how I think the debate is playing out in reality: a net benefit for Cooper overall, but something that’s galvanized support for both candidates.
In such a tightly contested gubernatorial race as this one, the candidates will take any advantage they can get. But so far, the boost for Democrats from this debate and Roy Cooper in particular has been far from decisive. If this is shocking to people, perhaps it’s time to get out of their bubble – and, ironically, step away from social media for a while.