Ben Carson, Bernie Sanders dominate Arizona’s ‘Facebook Primary’

Feb 19, 2016, 5:03 PM
(AP Photos)...
(AP Photos)
(AP Photos)

PHOENIX — If Arizona’s presidential primary was decided based on Facebook likes, it looks like Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders would win.

The data hounds at FiveThirtyEight assembled a county-by-county map of the U.S. that  shows which presidential candidate is the most popular on Facebook, and it showed the neurosurgeon and the Vermont senator are favored in Arizona.

The Facebook Primary (FiveThirtyEight)

The seas of blue represent Carson, orange blocks for Donald Trump, clusters of purple for Sanders and patches of red for Ted Cruz in Texas.

According to FiveThirtyEight, “If Facebook likes were votes, Bernie Sanders would be on pace to beat Hillary Clinton nationwide by a nearly 3-to-1 margin and Donald Trump to garner more support than Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio combined.”

It’s crucial to remember: Facebook likes are not votes. These figures do come from a large sample, but according to the Pew Research Center, only 58 percent of American adults use Facebook, and they tend to be younger and more female.

However skewed, the map is pretty useful in gauging a candidate’s popularity when compared to the rest of the nation.

So, what does Arizona look like?

The Facebook Primary - Arizona (FiveThirtyEight)

Looks like Arizona is Carson Country (barely). Carson leads the state in Facebook likes by three points, with Sanders and Trump right on his heals.

Based on this data, college towns go crazy for Sanders. Coconino County (home to Northern Arizona University) and Pima County (home to University of Arizona) show considerable leads for Sanders when it comes to Facebook likes.

What if we want to go deeper? FiveThirtyEight’s got Phoenicians covered, breaking it down by zip code.


Phoenix is feeling the Bern, with Sanders leading by four percentage points. The closer you get to downtown, the more Bernie fans you’ll find. Up in the ‘burbs, there’s a lot more love for Carson, and Trump is not without his fans.

To hammer home the fact that Facebook likes are not votes, recent polls show that Clinton is crushing Sanders by double-digit point gaps in Arizona.

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Ben Carson, Bernie Sanders dominate Arizona’s ‘Facebook Primary’