If America's Wi-Fi routers could vote, they'd likely reelect President Obama by about 6 percentage points.
That's just one of the unprovable conclusions I reached after looking at some clever new research by OpenSignalMaps, an Android app that relies on its crowd of users to keep track of all kinds of wireless data signals around the world. The app has gathered a database of almost 75 million geolocated routers worldwide and OpenSignalMaps co-founder James Robinson decided to parse some of that data for sentiments toward the president after noticing how many nearby routers were expressing themselves politically.
He found that his database contained 1,140 routers with "Obama" in their SSIDs, and an additional 6 with "Romney" -- keep in the mind the president has already been in office four years and enjoys a much higher profile worldwide than the Republican challenger. The OpenSignalMaps team then evaluated each of those routers to try and determine if they were expressing a positive, negative, or neutral sentiment toward the president. All those sentiments were compiled and each nation was given a score to determine how strongly they felt about Obama, either positive or negative or neutral.
Turns out no countries have a net negative feeling toward Obama, at least not when it comes to their routers. Yet among the countries showing the weakest net level of positive sentiment for the president was the United States -- here our SSIDs swing in favor of him by just 6 percentage points. Interestingly, that's not far off from Obama's lead in a recent Fox News poll.
The president enjoys much stronger support among European routers, where OpenSignalMaps says some nations showed 100 percent positive sentiment toward Obama via their SSIDs.
There is of course some margin for error in the data set, however, which OpenSignalMaps acknowledges. For example, a router in Alabama named "GoBama" is counted as being in favor of President Obama, although it's almost certainly got more to do with one of the University of Alabama's sports teams. And who knows if the router in Colorado that goes by "ObamaMiracleNetwork" was named sarcastically or not?
Of course, the study excludes one key data set. Given their dedication to their candidate and adept use of the Internet to organize, one has to wonder how Ron Paul-supporting routers might factor into this imaginary race.