Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Mitt Romney are already linked — at least on social media. During a week when rumors about Romney's vice presidential pick seemed to fill the airwaves, the House Budget Committee chairman's was the only name that appeared in the top 10 topics associated with conversations about Romney on Twitter, according to public affairs firm Powell Tate.
PoliPulse, the firm's social-media monitoring tool, tracks the top 10 trending topics in conversations surrounding the presidential candidates on Twitter. Considering one of the qualities Romney likely hopes his VP choice will bring to the campaign is excitement, the online interest in Ryan could be telling.
The Romney campaign isn't tipping its hand yet, but is well aware of the high interest online over Romney's anticipated VP announcement and the list of likely prospects. Earlier this week, a tweet promoting the campaign's mobile app — the medium of choice for the VP announcement — showed up when users searched for names like Ryan, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
At the same time, Romney himself hasn't had a lot of positive buzz online this week. Wednesday was a particularly low point, when conservatives including influential RedState Editor in Chief Erick Erickson reacted with outrage online following a senior Romney aide re-embracing the Massachusetts healthcare legislation Romney passed as governor during an interview with Fox News. The healthcare bill has been criticized as a model for "ObamaCare," the national healthcare reform legislation passed by the president that conservatives want repealed.
"This might just be the moment Mitt Romney lost the election," Erickson tweeted to his more than 51,000 followers following the interview.
But the Republican National Committee is calling it a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week" for President Obama, too, reflected in a plummet in Twitter's positivity index from Monday's score of 74 (out of 100) to Thursday's 20. Romney's score was even, worse at 12. According to Twitter's scale, a score of 50 means Twitter conversations mentioning the candidate's name were neutral; anything above is positive and anything below negative.
Powell Tate's PoliPulse finds Romney was mentioned 29 percent less than Obama during the last 24 hours on Twitter, which would be good news if it turns out most of Romney's supporters are not Twitter users. Either way, analytics exclusively from Twitter or other social media cannot be treated as a definitive poll.
Chart provided by Powell Tate.