By Melony Roy

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new study suggests that Facebook engagement could replace traditional polls when it comes to predicting the outcome of an election.

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“Well, I don’t think there is any doubt that social networking is important in campaigns,” says political analyst Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College. “The real question is can they be used to say that there is some predictability in the use of social media and the outcome of elections? That’s what we don’t know.”

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In a study conducted by two Ph.D. candidates and a research assistant, eight of the nine Senate toss-up races in 2012 were won by the candidate who had more engaged Facebook followers. Engagement includes the number of people that like a candidate’s page, the growth in the number of people who like, comment or share posts.

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But Madonna says that’s not enough, “I’m not prepared just with one or two case studies, the one with Facebook and the one we had previously with twitter that’s its predictive, we need a lot more research to determine that.”