Poll Proves Twitter Loves Ron Paul, Mainstream Media Be Damned

A new Pew Poll show Ron Paul tops Twitter for positive coverage and validates supporters claims of media bias, mostly.

Poll Proves Twitter Loves Ron Paul, Mainstream Media Be Damned

Those poor, unfortunate souls at Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism have spent the past six months, May 2 to November 27, analyzing over 20 million tweets to see which presidential candidates received the most positive, negative and neutral attention. Ron Paul came out on top.

Paul is the clear winner of the Twitter media primary when it comes to tone. A whopping 55% of the assertions about him were positive, only 15% were negative and 30% were neutral.

Indeed, Paul is the only candidate who generated more positive than negative assertions on Twitter, blogs and in the news coverage.

On blogs, the assertions about Paul were overwhelmingly positive as well (47% positive, 15% negative and 38% neutral).

This is unsurprising: as in 2008, Ron Paul built his 2012 base largely on younger, tech-savvy supporters who are more likely to use Twitter and therefore are more likely to use Twitter to cheer on their candidate.

Pew’s findings seem to suggest that’s the case: Paul ranked fifth among GOP candidates when it comes to Twitter presence. Most of the remarks were positive, but there were less of them, which means the majority of the people talking about Paul are supporters. Sadly for the candidate, their online excitement has yet to translate to real world results.

Almost every national survey linked at Paul’s fan site put his Republican primary polling at about 8 or 9%. More extreme readings put him at either 5% or 10%, but as a whole the digits show Paul’s still trailing his opponents. Could this lag be because, as Paul and his supporters often suggest, the mainstream media ignores him?

Pew’s research validates that theory — in part, at least: “On Twitter, there were more than 1.1 million assertions about Paul, ranking him fifth among the GOP candidates. He was also the No. 5 newsmaker on blogs. But in the news media, Paul finished next to last in the Republican field in terms of quantity of coverage-ahead of only Santorum.” That’s not saying much: Santorum’s support consistently ranks in the single digits and he is largely seen as an inevitable also-ran.

But most of the “news coverage narrative” about Paul have been neutral, 61%, and though his favorable numbers — 23% — fell far behind the most positively portrayed candidates (Cain, Perry and Bachmann, all with 29% and also all longshots), Paul still has received the least amount of adverse media attention — only 16% of Paul reports have been negative.

Just as with Twitter and blogs, the media’s Paul angle, though smaller in scope, is less biting than with other White House hopefuls. He’s one of the few.

Pew shows that only four candidates have more more positive than negative reports overall: “Bachmann (29% positive, 24% negative, 47% neutral), Huntsman (21% positive, 17% negative, 62% neutral), Paul (23% positive, 16% negative, 61% neutral) and Perry (29% positive, 25% negative, 46% neutral.)”

None of those people are currently front-runners. Two of them, Bachmann and Perry, have already fallen from grace — Huntsman doesn’t have far to fall — and it is unlikely any will win the White House. But at least one of them, Paul, can rest assured that he’ll leave a lasting political legacy.

The intensity of Paul’s support, particularly on youthful Twitter, proves once again than he has energized an entirely new generation of voters, all of whom are helped launch his brand of libertarianism into mainstream politics. Whether those ideas hold remains to be seen, but at least Paul has brought some fresh ideas into the fold, which is more than can be said about some of the other candidates.