The Twitterverse Discovers Paul Ryan


Official portrait of Rep. Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin. Ryan Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s pick as running mate.

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(CNN) — As presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney introduced his new running mate Paul Ryan to a cheering crowd in Norfolk, Virginia, the social media universe got busy hitting “send.”

Soon, conversation about Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, peaked at 3,749 tweets per minute, up from 675 less than two hours before.

“I’m honored to join @MittRomney on America’s Comeback Team,” the newly created @PaulRyanVP account tweeted.

In less than eight hours the account gained 60,000 followers, despite only posting four updates. By Monday night Ryan’s new campaign account had more than 100,000 followers.

Meanwhile, the original @RepPaulRyan account gained more than 10,000 followers over the weekend. Ryan’s original Facebook page gained nearly 68,000 fans Saturday through Monday, and continues to grow despite the fact that as of Monday Ryan had not updated the page since August 5.

Also, the Paul Ryan VP page that launched Saturday already has more than 500,000 fans, surpassing those of Vice President Joe Biden.

Of course, anti-Ryan sentiment flooded social media as well.

Soon after the official announcement Saturday morning, @BarackObama tweeted, “Read and RT: what you (and your friends) need to know about Paul Ryan.” The post included a link to a video critical of Ryan’s budget plan. The Obama campaign account continued posting more than a dozen critical messages through Ryan’s 9:30 a.m. speech and into Sunday, racking up more than 47,000 retweets of their messages.

Supporters and opponents also waded into the digital conversation.

“Paul- you’ve got great passion, leadership, and steadfastness. I wholly support your budget plan and hope we can get back on the road to a prosperous nation. We support you!” Austin P. Wood wrote.

Roy E. Vaughn and Kimberly Sanchez separately offered Ryan some advice for explaining his proposed Medicare voucher program to confused seniors. “Help us understand what you are saying,” Sanchez wrote.

On Romney’s Facebook page, an update about the candidate’s pick received more than 19,000 shares, 279,335 likes and 28,743 comments — and continues to grow.

But the tenor of the conversation remains murky. Even posts on Romney’s Facebook page ranged from enthusiastic support to frustration to outright apathy.

Dana Wilcox Newberry posted in part, “I am proud to be one that welcomed both you and Paul Ryan with open arms in High Point, NC yesterday! I am thrilled and very excited about the campaign and upcoming victory!”

In the same thread, Judy Knuth wrote, “Maybe not….Mitt almost had my vote….now NOT VOTING! (So I can’t complain.)”

Romney supporter and CNN iReporter Greg Hudson filed a story from a campaign event in Manassas, Virginia, on Saturday after interviewing members of the crowd gathered to meet the candidates.

“The group that I spoke with all seemed happy that Romney selected someone who was younger and has a clear understanding on the economic realities our nation is facing and has solutions to possibly get the country moving in the right direction,” Hudson said.

More than 100 citizen journalists submitted stories to CNN iReport about Ryan.

Twitter’s new political index claims to measure sentiment about the presidential candidates, but this weekend it turned the focus instead on Biden and Ryan. On Saturday, Biden had a score of 37 and Ryan scored 60. The index ranks sentiment on a scale of 1 to 100 with 50 being the point at which sentiment dips into disapproval.

An LA Times analysis of Twitter’s index found that while Twitter is far from being representative of the electoral public, there was some correlation between the index’s fluctuations and Gallup’s approval/disapproval polling. By Sunday Biden’s index score had risen to 48 points while Ryan’s had dropped to 49.

By Dorrine Mendoza – CNN

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