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Social media analysis: Ryan called out for claims in convention speech

Crimson Hexagon Inc. and NBCPolitics.com

Overall election sentiment Aug. 28, 2012. Click the image for the full-size version.

Paul Ryan was getting hammered on social media for what commenters say was his dishonesty in his address Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention, according to NBCPolitics.com's computer-assisted analysis of thousands of Twitter and Facebook posts through midday Thursday. But the controversy didn't appear to be changing many people's votes.

M. Alex Johnson M. Alex Johnson is a reporter for NBC News. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Ryan, whom many Americans were getting their first long look at as his party's vice presidential nominee, made several assertions Wednesday night that many nonpartisan watchdogs and news organizations called mostly false or misleading.

Paul Ryan may have gotten a rock star reception Wednesday at the Republican National Convention, but the White House pushed back aggressively on the veracity of his entire speech. NBC's Chuck Todd reports.

Ryan was most severely criticized for two attacks on President Barack Obama:

  • Ryan said Obama broke a promise to make sure that a General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis. — Ryan's hometown — would stay in business. The plant did close, but as was reported at the time, it ended operations in December 2008, before Obama even took office.
  • Ryan also criticized Obama for doing "exactly nothing" with the recommendations of a bipartisan commission he appointed to review the nation's debt crisis. He neglected to mention that he was a member of the commission — and that he voted against the recommendations himself.

NBCPolitics.com uses a tool called ForSight, a data platform developed by Crimson Hexagon Inc., which many research and business organizations have adopted to gauge public opinion in new media. It isn't the same as traditional surveys, which seek to reflect national opinion; instead, it's a broad, non-predictive snapshot of what's being said by Americans who follow politics and are active on Facebook, Twitter or both at a particular moment in time, and why they're saying it.

More social media analysis from NBCPolitics.com

For this report, the sample collected posts between the beginning of Ryan's speech Wednesday night and 1 p.m. ET Thursday.

Representative posts during that period and a visual representation of discussion topics indicate that "lies" appears prominently in negative commentary on Ryan's address. So do slams at his voting record in Congress, a consistent driver of negative sentiment in NBCPolitics.com's social media data since his selection as Mitt Romney's running mate Aug. 11:

Crimson Hexagon Inc. and NBCPolitics.com

General topics of negative conversation around Paul Ryan, 8 p.m. ET Wednesday to 1 p.m. ET Thursday. Some cells record rebuttals to positive commentary.




Positive comment was mainly expressed in general terms, in sharp contrast to the specific complaints others had:

Crimson Hexagon Inc. and NBCPolitics.com

General topics of positive conversation around Paul Ryan, 8 p.m. ET Wednesday to 1 p.m. ET Thursday. Some cells record rebuttals to negative commentary.



The reception to Ryan's speech doesn't appear to changed many people's minds, however, according to NBCPolitics.com's separate monitor tracking Election Day voting intentions.

Before the address, 36 percent of social media posts expressing a clear preference backed the Romney-Ryan ticket, compared with 33 percent that supported Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. In the 17 hours afterward, that gap had narrowed by only one point — to 35 percent to 34 percent.

What impact will social media have on Decision 2012? NBC News' Lou Dubois and Alex Johnson join Joy-Ann Reed of theGrio.com, Liz Heron of The Wall St. Journal and Daniel Sieberg of Google Plus to discuss what the campaigns and voters are saying online.