—Posted by Matt Buxton, staff writer
As we head into the last weekend before the primary elections, there's no sure-fire way to predict who will come out on top of the high-stakes Republican race for Senate District C.
Polling isn't available, counting yard signs is nearly impossible in a district that spans from Chena Ridge to Salcha and on to Delta, Valdez and parts of Palmer, and the top two candidates are nearly neck and neck in dollars raised.
The one place that has shown a favorite is Facebook, and he's former Alaska Commissioner of Labor Click Bishop.
Yes, the over-sharing social media website has become a facet of this year's race. Bishop, former state legislator Ralph Seekins and Palmer resident Dave Eastman each have their own "Pages" where people can "Like" the candidate, check out updates and connect directly with the campaign.
Now before we get into the results, it's important to keep in mind that this is an extremely unscientific measure of each candidates' popularity. People can "Like" all three pages, people outside the district who don't won't be voting can also join the conversation and not every voter has clicked on the little thumbs up button.
That said, the candidate with the most "Likes" is the Click Bishop for Senate page, clocking in at 431 "Likes" as of Friday. Seekins came in a close second at 364 "Likes" and Eastman had just "101."
By comparison the oh-so-popular, and politically uncontroversial, Great Harvest Bread Co., which is opening held its grand opening today, had about 1,300 "Likes."
But a more interesting metric to look at is the recently added feature showing the number of people talking about each page. This number includes "Likes," posts and shares, over the last seven days, so it can work as a good measure of how each campaign is staying conected with everyone.
Here, Bishop is the clear winner with 219 people talking about his page. Seekins comes in at just 35 and Eastman comes in at 12.
Keep in mind that this is a blind measure and doesn't tell us if people are saying good or bad things about the candidates.
Any posts and photos from the Bishop camp are also garnering more "Likes," with some hitting over 30, while Seekins comes in at the low teens.
Update: According to recent financial campaign filings with the Alaska Political Offices Commission, both Seekins and Bishop campaign dropped money on Facebook ads. APOC filings show Bishop's campaign spent $5,927 at AK Political for "News Ads/Facebook." How much of that went to Facebook ads is unclear. Seekins has spent about $450 since mid July. Eastman haven't spent a dollar on Facebook.
Other local candidates who have put in money include House District 4 candidate David Pruhs, Senate Seat A candidates Joe Thomas and John Coghill, House District 1 candidate Paul Brown and Senate Seat B candidate Pete Kelly.