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Social media analysis: Democrats gain by redefining Ryan

Crimson Hexagon Inc. and NBC News

Social media report on the campaign for Monday, Sept. 10. Click the image for the full-size report.

At their national convention last week, Democrats had significant success redefining Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan as a flip-flopper on the budget and the economy, his marquee issues, according to NBCPolitics.com's computer-assisted analysis of hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Facebook posts.

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

The analysis indicates that — at least among Americans who are active on social media — the biggest swings in sentiment involved Ryan and President Barack Obama. During the two-week convention period, Obama twice trailed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by 8 points in a head-to-head comparison, but he had caught up to a dead heat by Monday:

Crimson Hexagon Inc.

Head-to-head voting preference for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney for Aug. 27 through Sept.10.


NBC's Luke Russert and MSNBC's Alex Wagner discuss Rep. Paul Ryan's positions on the budget and defense spending.

NBCPolitics.com analyzed about 1.5 million posts using 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

Explainer: Can you scientifically quantify social media opinion?

General opinions about Obama, Romney and Vice President Joe Biden remained relatively consistent throughout the analysis period, positive sentiment for all of whom moved no more than 4 points on any given day:


Crimson Hexagon Inc.

Positive and negative sentiment for Barack Obama for Aug. 27 through Sept. 10.


Crimson Hexagon Inc.

Positive and negative sentiment for Mitt romney for Aug. 27 through Sept. 10.


Crimson Hexagon Inc.

Positive and negative sentiment for Joe Biden for Aug. 27 through Sept. 10.

Ryan was a wild card, swinging from a favorability rating near 50 percent around the end of the Republican convention to the mid-30s by the time the Democrats had finished in Charlotte:


Crimson Hexagon Inc.

Positive and negative sentiment for Paul Ryan for Aug. 27 through Sept. 10.

Democrats spent the week of their convention depicting Ryan as a talks-tough-but-votes-weak vacillator on the economy and an opponent of women's rights. By Monday — after the convention and a weekend of punditry — Ryan's votes for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and President George W. Bush's budgets dominated the negative discussion, along with significant criticism of his opposition to abortion:

Crimson Hexagon Inc.

Negative topics of conversation around Paul Ryan for Sept. 4 through Sept. 10.





Ryan and the Republicans can take away one positive: Overall, specific commentary about Ryan continued to dwarf specific discussion about Biden, by a ratio of nearly 4-to-1 during the two-week convention period. Even last Thursday, the day Biden addressed the Democratic convention, Ryan was the topic of 55 percent of commentary that was specifically about either man.

So while people, by and large, may not be saying nice things about him, at least they're talking about Paul Ryan.