'Facebook' facts for Republicans: Watch what's happening online as voters show their preferences

On the eve of yet another series of state caucuses and primaries most of the attention being paid Tuesday focuses on the squabble between the four remaining candidates for the Republican nomination.  It’s really quite incredible to watch the broadcast and print media primp up this battle as being meaningful while the American voting is sending a signal online that this race may have already been decided before the first vote is cast in November. 

While it makes great television to continue to shine spotlights on Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul; the Republican Party has walked into a trap of its own making.  Once again, President Barack Obama and his campaign machine have out-flanked those seeking his presidency by understanding the tactics and strategy that sells products in the Internet age.  The Republicans seem to be fascinated with nostalgic thinking and it is dooming any viable candidate’s chance to win the new electorate.

It’s time to face facts. Those of us who have made careers in the marketing and advertising business are watching from the sidelines as we see mistake after mistake being made by the challenger side of this battle. Those that are viewing these numbers each week can bury their heads in the sand and act like they don’t mean anything. Such a belief system is archaic and needs to be replaced now. It may well be too late.  The Republicans are well past the two-minute warning in this game and are about 25 touchdowns behind. Let’s take a look at the numbers since last week.

Facebook Friends
Mitt Romney – 1,455,156 – up  22,971
Ron Paul – 841,882 – up 12,159
Newt Gingrich – 274,713 –up  4,343
Rick Santorum – 104,612 – up 3,797
President Barack Obama – 25,067,362 – up 106,606

So much air time has been focused on the “surging of Rick Santorum” and the fact that Newt Gingrich is going to take this battle all the way to the Republican Convention in Tampa.

Frankly, I’m not sure where we can find any evidence online of this surge or any real evidence that Newt is ramping up support online. Polls don’t vote; people do. The people are speaking loud and clear here: Mitt Romney and Ron Paul continue to gain momentum on Facebook. Both have a huge mountain to climb against a Barack Obama campaign that is picking up speed and friends every week. There seems to be no stopping the rise of the president in terms of reinforcing his online base within social media channels.

Twitter Followers
Newt Gingrich – 1,436,037 – up 5,331
Ron Paul – 359,658 – up 12,416
Mitt Romney – 326,270 – UP 23,377
Rick Santorum – 106,990 – UP 5473
President Barack Obama – 12,375,648 – up 130,024
First lady Michelle Obama – 541,216

Both Newt Gingrich’s and Rick Santorum’s rate of Twitter growth has slowed considerably this past week. Seems that all of this media attention has done little to help the Santorum campaign gain any real footing online.  While Newt leads the field in followers, the real action of late is between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, who continue to show solid growth in followers week after week. 

What’s most interesting is the relative position that the first lady is holding in the mix. As of Tuesday Feb. 7, Michelle Obama has more Twitter Followers than three of the four Republican candidates for the White House. She ranks No. 2 behind Newt Gingrich.  President Obama continues to pick up followers at an incredible pace each week. Gaining over 130,000 followers in one week has given the President an incredible Twitter platform to speak directly to nearly 12.5 million potential voters. No one in the Republican camp comes close.

I would truly love to know what is going on within the campaign war rooms around the Republican camps. All of this data is publically accessible. While debates wage and political pundits on major and minor networks fill air time debating the relative strengths and weaknesses of the candidates, the real story of what is happening online is left untold.

What is left of the old guard – whether that is within the marketing community or political campaigning – needs to be shown the curb. If the trending behind these facts and figures remain unchanged, the election in November won’t even be close.