David Cameron isn’t much of a Tory (according to Facebook)

Data from Facebook’s Insights tool shows the PM has a very different fanbase from his party

Robert Colvile
Dec 9, 2015 · 4 min read

Earlier this morning, I took at look at who likes Jeremy Corbyn on Facebook — and the Labour Party more generally. (The inspiration was this piece by Rob Leathern on Donald Trump.) The obvious follow-up was to compare them with the Tories. Which is where it got a bit weird.

The first part of the exercise didn’t throw up many surprises: I searched for people who listed ‘Conservative Party (UK)’ as an interest, just as I had with Momentum and Labour.

It turns out the Tories are older than most Facebook users:

And more likely to be married:

They’re also likely to do some of the same jobs as Labour supporters, eg working in the arts, science of computing. New theory: these jobs may be signifiers of political interest more broadly.

Tories are also, as you might expect, quite keen on Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, leaving the EU, rugby, the Queen, and the Armed Forces:

They’re also strangely interested in Jeremy Corbyn. Keeping tabs on the enemy?

That isn’t the only wrinkle. Tories are evidently keen on stuff to do with old people — and, of course, Waitrose. But there are a surprising number of Tories who are also interested in staying in Europe, and one of the journalists they’re most linked with (down at No 17) turns out to be… Owen Jones. Working theory: like Top Gear appearing on my Labour charts, Owen has such a large following that he shows up in unlikely places.

Anyway, that was the Tories — and, broadly, they’re pretty much the type of people you’d expect. But what about the kind of people who like David Cameron?

Well, they’re younger than Tory supporters — and Facebook users as a whole:

They’re more likely to be single, too:

But it’s when you look at the other things they like that things get strange (remember: this is people who just express an interest in David Cameron, not the Tory party):

You don’t have to be Woodward and Bernstein to see some pretty strange things on these lists, especially the first one. And they’re not artefacts of small sample sizes: we’re talking about a couple of million people here.

Which leaves us with the following hypotheses that I can see:

  1. Liking David Cameron is, in part, a proxy for political interest more generally.
  2. Liking David Cameron is a way of keeping an eye on him if you oppose what he’s doing (but then why not do the same with the Tories?)
  3. People are liking him because he’s the Prime Minister, rather than a party leader.
  4. Some people (like Owen) have large enough Facebook followings that they show up even where you wouldn’t expect it.
  5. There is genuinely something about Cameron that gives him an appeal beyond that of his party, to people who might not otherwise endorse or be interested in the Tories.

My instinct is that 1, 3 and 4 are all at work — but that we can’t discount 5, either. I’d be fascinated to get your views…

In case you missed the link, here’s my analysis of Jeremy Corbyn fans, and Labour supporters more generally

Robert Colvile

Written by

Author, The Great Acceleration’ (Bloomsbury) & Editor at CapX (www.capx.co).

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