It seems that there is little substantive data to indicate who is the favourite to win the Liberal Democrat leadership contest as voting begins. Here is an indication, on Facebook Chris Huhne has 613 friends while his rival Nick Clegg has 774. It is hard to see any peak or trough in membership following the recent problems surrounding the campaign and members range from parliamentary colleagues to the normal, young members that are the average Facebook user. Some friends are shared also, such as myself to see how they are using their profile pages.
Clegg's profile has more of a campaigning feel to it. He has videos, a long 'about me' section, causes and poppies. Huhne's is quite basic, has causes and a US politics box, but offers less campaigning. The key feature of both is the amount of messages of support posted to their walls. Clegg is more responsive, perhaps his team are involved or perhaps he personally uses it as a campaigning tool; Huhne took a week to reply but perhaps that indicates a more personal usage. We should not assume!
Does it mean anything? Who knows! It is impossible (well it is very time consuming and less than simple) to tell how many of the 'friends' can vote. But it may well be a general indication of support within a certain voter segment. It is a small amount compared to the 163,882 friends Barack Obama has gathered but it is a different context, but given that Hilary Clinton does not have a profile an d the most popular groups are opposing her, does this give Obama the edge. The bottom line is, does Facebook have any political impact or can it even be used as an indicator of anything?