Mitt Romney chooses Paul Ryan for VP running mate; social media does too.

by politicalthing

This blog was originally authored by me and published on the Radian6 website. I’m posting it here for posterity.

The speculation as to whom GOP candidate for president Mitt Romney will choose as his running mate went into overdrive this week after the blog suggested Wikipedia held the answer. Published Monday, the blog made its way around the social networks until it was picked up by mainstream media outlets.

On Tuesday evening, Stephen Colbert picked up on the story and used his show, The Colbert Report, to urge his fans to log on to Wikipedia and “make as many edits as possible to your favorite VP contender.” Wednesday, it was reported that Wikipedia had protected the entries of rumored vice-presidential nominees.

Back in June, I took a look at the social buzz being generated about rumored vice-presidential candidates. At that point, the last of the GOP presidential primaries had been decided and the summer campaign was just beginning. Given that vice-presidential speculation reached a fever pitch this week, I thought it was time to revisit the data.

The Candidates

I based my search on the individuals listed in Micah Sifry’s blog, as well as an additional name contributed by The Drudge Report, Gen. David Petraeus.

The candidates I included are:

Rep. Rob Portman (OH)
Sen. Marco Rubio (FL)
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI)
Gov. Bobby Jindal (LA)
Gov. Chris Christie (NJ)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (NH)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty (MN)
Gen. David Petraeus

I looked for all social media mentions of these individuals in conjunction with the words “vice president”, “vp”, and “veep” between August 6th and 9th. I then used our topic analysis widget to compare the percent change in mentions over the previous four days: August 2nd to 4th — to measure the impact of this week’s buzz around the article.

Retired General David Patraeus has seen the largest jump in conversations — 2,085 mentions between August 6th and 9th, compared to just 43 mentions between August 2nd and 5th — but should be taken with a grain of salt. Until the Drudge Report published his name, Patraeus, who is currently serving as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was not many lists of possible contenders. The Christian Science Monitor has suggested that the likelihood of Patraeus accepting the role is “slim”.

The other contenders have been discussed widely over the past two months and most people feel one of them will be the likely choice for Mitt Romney. Of those individuals, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin saw the single largest increase, with 6,121 mentions between August 6th and 9th, compared to just 1,342 mentions between August 2nd and 5th.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was the only contender on the list to receive fewer mentions — 794 between August 6th and 9th versus 939 mentions between August 2nd and 5th.

Interested in how the vice presidential conversations looked like in June? Check out Who’ll Be Romney’s Running Mate?