Oregon Facebook Primary June 2021

Office of the Secretary of State, Oregon's election officer.


It's back! People who have known me for a long time are familiar with my "Facebook Primary" Project, where I test the null hypothesis that social media cannot predict election outcomes.

Statistics is about collecting data that shows you whether to reject a null hypothesis, or a negative statement. I calculate correlations between election results and social media performance in order to know whether to reject or not reject the null hypothesis that social media performance cannot predict election results. The correlation between the votes a candidate receives and the number of followers their social media profiles has must be at least 90% in order for me to reject the null hypothesis that social media performance did not predict the election outcome.

I gather data every month from each tracked candidate's Facebook and Twitter accounts (this cycle it will be the 15th of every month unless otherwise noted) and analyze the data for use in understanding public perception of candidates as well before ultimately calculating correlations with election results.

2018 Oregon gubernatorial election results. Democrats consistently win only 7 counties in most statewide elections.

Oregon Governor 2022

In June 2021, I tracked 15 candidates for Oregon Governor, collection the social media data of 14 on June 15 and one on June 16 following a campaign announcement. Some candidates are prospective, and others have filed fundraising paperwork with the Secretary of State, which will be noted below.


GOP candidates jumped in the field early, getting a head start over opponents in a party that has held the Governor's office since the 1980's.

  • Dr. Bud Pierce, Salem. SOS paperwork filed.

  • Mayor Stan Pulliam, Sandy, SOS Paperwork Filed (Running an exploratory committee, candidacy not officially declared)

  • Rep. Mike Nearman, Independence. Rep. Nearman has not publicly expressed interest, but his high-profile expulsion from the Oregon House of Representatives and popularity in Republican circles makes him a contender.

  • Darrin Harbick, former McKenzie School Board Member, Blue River. SOS paperwork filed.

  • Jessica Gomez, Business Oregon Commission and OIT Board of Trustees member, Medford. SOS paperwork filed.

  • Paul Romero, Roseburg. No SOS paperwork filed, currently fundraising.

  • Mark Duncan, no info. No SOS paperwork filed.

  • Marc Thielman, Alsea School District Superintendent and former Wallowa SD Superintendent. Mr. Thielman has not publicly expressed interest but is rumored to run following his public opposition to Governor Brown's handling of K-12 school COVID-19 restrictions.

Social Media


Dr. Pierce has more Facebook likes than all other candidates combined, a legacy of his 2016 run for Governor. Mayor Pulliam is a relative newcomer to Republican politics, but he boasts an impressive following. The only three other declared or potential candidates with more than 1,000 likes are Rep. Nearman, Mr. Harbick, and Commissioner Gomez.


Twitter is a less reliable predictor of election outcomes, especially because many profiles are used by organizations rather than individuals. The only candidate with more than 1,000 Twitter followers is Mr. Romero.


Oregon Democrats have weathered scandal, single and 4-term officeholders, walkouts, and minorities to retain the Governor's office since 1987. Governor Kate Brown is term-limited and cannot run again until 2026. Prospective Democratic candidates include:

  • Mayor Ted Wheeler, Portland. Prospective.

  • Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Portland. Prospective.

  • Multnomah County Commissioners Chair Deborah Kafoury, Portland. Prospective.

  • Speaker Tina Kotek, Portland. Prospective.

  • Treasurer Tobias Read, Beaverton. Prospective.

  • Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla, Dayton. SOS paperwork filed.

  • Lynn Peterson, Metro President, Portland. Prospective.

Social Media


Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is likely more infamous than famous on social media owing to his perceived mishandling of riots in the wake of George Floyd's murder in 2020. He has been in the public eye for several years, serving as Multnomah County Commissioners Chair as well as State Treasurer for 8 years before heading to City Hall, so he has legacy followers from a decade and a half in public office. Fun fact: Mayor Wheeler was a Republican candidate for Boston, MA City Council in 1993. The only other candidate in Mayor Wheeler's tier is 3-term Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.


Mayor Wheeler's infamy extends exponentially to Twitter, where he boasts over 3.8 times more followers than the other Democratic candidates combined.

Grudge Match


Dr. Pierce's Facebook lead extends over all other tracked candidates. Mayor Pulliam does reasonably well over less well-known candidates, but falls short of Mayor Wheeler and Attorney General Rosenblum.


Mayor Wheeler still reigns supreme over all of the other candidates, with his 76,000 followers totaling more than 3.2 times the combined number of followers of ALL 14 OTHER CANDIDATES.