When you’re mildly obsessive-compulsive like me you tend to do things that would be considered odd by those who are not similarly afflicted. A good example is my recent preoccupation with Facebook fans.
For those of you who are not familiar with Facebook, there are pages on the site where businesses, organizations, causes, politicians, and people from infinite other categories can post promotional materials and accrue “fans” who can then exchange messages and chat with each other about the object of their fandom.
Last year a Tom Corbett Facebook page was established by his campaign in support of Mr. Corbett’s candidacy for Pennsylvania Governor. A similar page for Representative Sam Rohrer’s candidacy was launched in December, a full four months after Mr. Corbett’s page first appeared.
Shortly thereafter, in a moment of OCD-inspired fascination, I began keeping detailed daily records of the fan count for the two candidates.
I soon found that even with Mr. Rohrer’s late start, it didn’t take more than a few weeks for the total number of Rohrer fans to exceed those for Tom Corbett. By January 14 the total count was 1789 for Mr. Rohrer, 1557 for Mr. Corbett, an advantage of +232 for Rohrer; on January 21, a week later, the Rohrer count was +394.
This pattern continued for the next month with Mr. Rohrer adding an average of 20.4 fans each day to Mr. Corbett’s average 15.7 daily additions. On February 21 the count was 2672 fans for Mr. Rohrer, 2134 fans for Mr. Corbett, an advantage of +538 for Mr. Rohrer.
It was on February 22 that the curious events began. On that date Mr. Corbett’s fan count increased by an unusual 168 and the next day, February 23, the one day increase skyrocketed to an astonishing 899 – a 46% increase in total fans – suddenly giving Mr. Corbett a 467 fan lead! Anyone familiar with Facebook will readily see that such an increase, while theoretically not impossible, is HIGHLY unlikely.
That same day the following comment was posted on the Corbett fan page and quickly removed (printed here as posted): “i accidently clicked on someting you stuck on the side of my screen and somehow became a “fan” i hate polotics and politicians.” So how did this guy become a fan without his consent? Similar messages were posted by others but I was unable to copy them before they were removed.
On February 24 and beyond, the average daily increase settled right back to the pattern that was established before that remarkable single day pop.
As Mr. Rohrer continued his greater average daily increase, similar single-day events for Mr. Corbett occurred on March 5 (+183) and April 1 (+537) and each time the normal pattern resumed the following day.
On March 14, the Corbett campaign posted this on his Facebook page: “Did you know that Tom has more Facebook fans any other candidate for governor of Pennsylvania? Let’s keep up our momentum on Facebook…”
Well, that explains a lot.
Is someone in the Corbett campaign somehow manipulating the numbers to give the appearance of more support for Mr. Corbett? The facts are stated above, so you can be the judge.
Admittedly, this is pretty petty stuff that probably would have gone unnoticed by anyone who is not a compulsive geek like me. But I believe that it proves a larger point: that apparently the Corbett campaign will resort to any dirty trick, no matter how cheap and shabby, to win the Governor’s seat. And if Mr. Corbett and his staff are apparently willing to manipulate a relatively minor indicator such as this for personal gain, to what lengths will they go in the future to alter the truth and distort important issues that truly affect the people of Pennsylvania?
Since Mr. Corbett’s penchant for deception apparently knows no bounds, is he really the person we want to entrust with the future of our state?