Gingrich Surges; Huntsman in the Hunt; Cain, Perry and Bachmann Trending Downward

It’s obvious that anyone running for political office, especially presidential candidates, must have a strong online presence. Twitter, Facebook, and every other social networking tool under the sun must be used effectively by any public figure, hoping to get their message out to the masses. Barack Obama did this better than anyone else in 2008, and this year, it’s imperative for Republicans to harness the power of social media if they want to defeat Obama.

Every week, Zeta Interactive is releasing their weekly Presidential Election Digital Performance Report.  This will include comprehensive reporting and real-time analysis of the leading candidates’ performance across the online landscape.


It’s been a heck of a week for the candidates or “brands” vying for the White House. Cain battling sexual allegations, Perry trying to rebound after a major debate gaffe, Gingrich making his move and Romney not able to break away from the pack. And NJ Governor Chris Christie is warning brands to not underestimate the power of Obama’s marketing machine. With billions of dollars to be spent over the course of the next 12 months, Zeta believes that the run for the White House will be the most exciting and observed story in the advertising and marketing arena. We plan to provide you with regular updates on just how marketers like Gingrich, Cain, Romney, Huntsman, etc. are faring as they do brand battle not only amongst themselves, but more importantly with the top brand in the race…President Barack Obama.

Here’s the latest update on the impact of the week’s activity:

Newt’s Online Presence Improves Dramatically: Newt Gingrich’s buzz improved more than any other GOP candidate over the past week. Gingrich saw his tonal ranking improve to 73% over the past week, putting him second to only Jon Huntsman in the tonal buzz category. Additionally, Gingrich’s Facebook following increased by nearly 5% over the past week, higher than any other candidate in the GOP race. This focus on social media echoes Gingrich’s recent references to the importance of the internet and social media.  Gingrich’s cluster words show a candidate that should be considered a real contender for the GOP nomination. The words and phrases “best debater”, “like”, “smart” and “underdog” were all used to describe him online over the past week. 

Huntsman Receives Buzz Boost from Debate: While online reaction to Cain and Perry continues to be negative, the buzz surrounding Jon Huntsman has improved dramatically. Huntsman’s tonal buzz has improved by 11% over the past two weeks, bringing him to 74% positive, better than all other GOP candidates as of today. Additionally, Huntsman’s cluster words point to him being a serious threat to Romney, with “contender”, “challenge”, “underdog”, and “surprise” being featured among the most popular words and phrases used to describe him online. 

Cain’s Tonal Buzz Stabilizes; Volume Continues to Increase: After hitting its lowest point last week, Herman Cain‘s tonal buzz remained steady, coming in at 70% positive for the second week in a row. His volume buzz continued to soar, garnering 28% of the overall volume buzz share surrounding all GOP candidates. Following Cain in the volume category was Rick Perry at 18% of the share, and then Mitt Romney, who came in at 13% of the volume share. 

Romney Buzz Remains Neutral: While most candidates experienced a significant shift in their online buzz one way or another, Mitt Romney’s online buzz remained virtually unchanged since the previous week. Over the past week, Romney’s tonal ranking has remained untouched at 70% positive, and the words and phrases used most commonly to describe him online are “neutral”, “favorite” and “will win”.  

Perry’s Buzz Drops to Lowest Point: After seeing his buzz drop significantly over the past month, Rick Perry continued to experience a severe drop over the past week, with his tonal buzz ranking decreasing by another 5%, dropping to 61% positive, lower than any other GOP candidate in the race. Additionally, Perry’s unforgettable brain freeze during last week’s debate remains front and center online, with people associating him most frequently with the following words: “gaffe”, “forgot”, “mistake”, “embarrassing” and “agencies”.

Perry’s Debate Mishap Sparks Surge in Twitter Following: While Perry’s debate brain freeze caused major damage to his tonal buzz ranking, it did help one thing: his Twitter following. In the five days since the debate Perry’s Twitter following increased by nearly 3%. The only other candidate to have experienced a greater increase in Twitter following over the past week was Herman Cain, whose following surged by more than 5%. 

Bachmann Site Traffic Plummets: Michele Bachmann’s online presence over the past week has been defined by her drop in site visits. Bachmann’s % of total site visits driven by SEO decreased by a whopping 67% and the % of total site visits driven by social media decreased by 51%.   

Santorum Sets SEO Standard in Past Week: Of all GOP candidates, Rick Santorum experienced the greatest increase in site visits driven by SEO, with this number increasing by nearly 114% over the past week alone.

Full analytical data is available upon request.

*Data referencing Site Visits was sourced from Experian Hitwise, Inc and analyzed by Zeta Interactive.

*Data referencing social buzz is sourced from Zeta Buzz, which monitors the online media landscape. Using an algorithm, the team is able to measure the volume and tone of conversations across the social media landscape.