Election 2017

Facebook: We helped Pat Toomey win re-election to the US Senate

The social media platform called itself an “essential component” of the Senator’s recent re-election.

Sen. Pat Toomey

Sen. Pat Toomey


Facebook is sure it helped U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey win in November — so sure that in a new case study in its “Facebook for Business” section, the social media giant calls itself an “essential component” of his robust reelection apparatus.

Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who won a tight battle for reelection in November against challenger Katie McGinty, is listed as the first “success story” for the category of government and politics in a guide Facebook created for business and marketing. He appears to be the only senator listed in these so-called “success stories,” though Facebook also touted its marketing prowess as it relates to the campaigns of former presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Gary Johnson, as well as Florida Gov. Rick Scott and political parties in other countries.

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Facebook wrote that Toomey’s campaign “needed to move voters deemed ‘persuadable’ to vote for Senator Toomey and to find the most effective way to do so.” To do so, Toomey’s campaign worked with at least two digital marketing firms to create “made-for-Facebook” content as opposed to simply posting recycled TV ads.

That move, Facebook claims, resulted in a 43 percent higher 10-second view rate “when using made-for-Facebook creative, compared to videos recycled from TV ads.”

Toomey defeated McGinty by about 100,000 votes out of about six million cast. Facebook is using that statistic to claim its platform made all the difference for Toomey, including double-digit lifts in “voter intent” among all people aged 55 to 64 as well as women aged 45 to 54 when that “made-for-Facebook” content was used.

The senator has continued to use that platform as a primary method of engaging with voters. As calls have come from opponents for Toomey to hold a town hall event — which he hasn’t done since August 2015 — the senator three weeks ago used Facebook to announce that an hour later he’d be holding a tele-town hall. Later today, at a time not yet disclosed, he’ll hold another town hall-ish event by sitting down for a conversation with CBS 3 live on Facebook.

Those who worked for Toomey’s campaign appeared in testimonials for Facebook, as well. Amanda Bloom, the managing director of Bask Digital Media, wrote that Facebook’s targeting capabilities allowed the campaign to “reach more than 1.2 million people with content that was customized to the audience as well as Facebook’s platform.” Campaign manager Peter Towey wrote that customization “is not available through traditional TV advertising.”

The Toomey-McGinty showdown was the most expensive race in United States Senate history, with more than $160 million being spent by both the campaigns and outside groups in total. The Toomey campaign spent more than $27 million overall, and a “large portion” of Toomey’s $2.8 million digital strategy budget was reportedly spent on Facebook.

Want some more? Explore other Election 2017 stories.

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