Since we started looking at the political and causes space in the middle of last year, we've been waiting for the time when we could start applying our data to hot political races. So we were excited this year when we got the chance to take a look at Newt Gingrich for the Huffington Post and then at Rick Santorum for the blog Big Think. We co-authored the pieces with some key thinkers at the Center for American Progress.
We think our findings look interesting and are proving our as the primary campaign season stretches on.
Newt Gingrich looks strong on based on top level social networking data. But when we dug in, there was a lot of volatility and only so-so mutual engagement between Gingrich's fans and key Republican groups.
The big news was how few of his followers were even based in the US. His roller coaster ride through the primaries was predictable.
"Gingrich enjoyed a terrific November and December, according to the pollsters. That said, virtually every piece of evidence in the social networking space indicates that Gingrich's head of steam is bound to evaporate - indeed it may already have. His support in the social sphere is thin and anemic. And when the going really gets tough in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina, his base, such as it is, looks to be unreliable and dispassionate. Neither Mitt Romney nor Ron Paul have this problem, and therefore both have real staying power."
Rick Santorum was a different story. There we saw low numbers but strength and mutual affinity among key groups. All likely to make Santorum a very credible banner carrier for a core portion of Republican primary voters.
"[W]e found that Santorum is positioned to solidify support in the South, to siphon the buzz from many of his rivals, and to build his base among socially conservative voters. Indeed, he already made one big move last weekend when he garnered major endorsements from evangelical leaders.
But fair warning: he's merely positioned to make a move. At the end of the day, his ability to do so will turn on time and money, both things he's relatively short on."