Online Staff Report
Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) is a hit on the online social networking site Twitter, according to a report by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Pew’s report examined more than 20 million tweets made about the 2012 presidential race between May 2 and Nov. 27. Twitter allows users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, referred to as “tweets.”
The report found 55 percent of the messages made about Paul were positive, while 15 percent were negative. No other Republican candidate had a positive balance, as negative comments outpaced positive comments by at least a 2-1 margin for each candidate.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the frontrunner in the Republican race, has seen more positive comments in recent weeks as his numbers surge in the polls. However, the negative still outweighed the positive during the study’s time frame.
Meantime, 40 percent of comments made about former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney were negative while 19 percent were positive. The report showed the acronym RINO, which stands for “Republicans in name only,” was frequently attributed to Romney.
President Barack Obama fared even worse than any of the Republican candidates in the Pew report. Negative tweets about the president outweighed positive tweets 51 percent to 17 percent. Both his busiest and best week was immediately following the death of Osama bin Laden, May 2-8, when 28 percent of tweets were positive and 47 percent were negative.
The president had about 15 million mentions on Twitter during the period examined in the study, far more than any of the Republican candidates.
Former Republican candidate Herman Cain, who dropped out of the race Dec. 3 after a series of sex scandal allegations, was second behind Obama in the number of tweets at more than 2 million. Romney had about 1.6 million tweets, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) about 1.4 million, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman a little more than 300,000 tweets each.
The most recent national Gallup poll, released Dec. 7, shows the 76-year-old Paul in third at 9 percent, behind Gingrich at 36 percent and Romney at 23 percent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Bachmann were both at 6 percent, Santorum was at 3 percent, and Huntsman was at 1 percent. A Dec. 8 Rasmussen Reports poll found Obama’s approval rating at 45 percent.
Although national polls consistently show Paul in third, recent polls show Paul and Romney neck-and-neck for second place in Iowa, where the Iowa caucuses will kick off the primary election season Jan. 3, 2012.
A Dec. 7 CNN/Time poll in Iowa showed Gingrich first at 33 percent, Romney second at 20 percent and Paul third at 17 percent. Dec. 6 polls in Iowa by ABC News/Washington Post and CBS News/New York Times showed Paul and Romney tied at 18 percent and Romney leading Paul 17-16 percent, respectively. A Dec. 4 Iowa poll by the Des Moines Register showed Gingrich at 25 percent, Paul at 18 percent and Romney at 16 percent.
Iowa’s caucuses are the first test in the primary election season. Although followed closely by the media and central to determining which candidates remain in the race, the only non-incumbent candidates to win their party’s caucus and go on to win the general election were George W. Bush in 2000 and Barack Obama in 2008. Neither Ronald Reagan nor Bill Clinton won in Iowa prior to their first terms.