The twists and turns in the Republican presidential primary race gave plenty for Facebookers to talk about over the weekend, as a new poll shows Newt Gingrich leading the pack in a key early caucus state.
Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Gingrich now has the most support among the GOP in a Des Moines Register poll, with 25 percent of likely caucus goers in Iowa, followed by Representative Ron Paul of Texas with 18 percent and Governor Mitt Romney in third place with 16 percent.
The Iowa caucus — the first in the nation — is scheduled for January 3.
As Gingrich’s poll numbers rise, his Facebook fan base is growing as well. Our Election Tracker 2012 shows that Gingrich has added 12,425 fans in the past seven days, and more than 1,800 today alone.
With more than 201,555 Facebook fans total, Gingrich still falls behind three other GOP hopefuls in terms of Facebook fan base size: Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.
Former Massachusetts Governor Romney leads the GOP in Facebook fans, with more than 1.2 million.
With Herman Cain suspending his campaign this weekend, it will be interesting to see how many of the business executive’s fans throw their Facebook support (and votes) to Gingrich.
According to Gingrich, his meteoric rise in the polls is due in part to a new style of campaigning, a “substance-based, volunteer-centered, Internet-based,” system, according to the new e-book, Rise of the Right.
Facebook is key for Gingrich, who hasn’t had the staff or money that the other candidates have enjoyed to build a strong state staff or advertise on TV.
In a Patch story out of Iowa, Drake University instructor Chris Snider believes there is a correlation between the candidates with the strongest social media presence and those that are leading in the polls.
For example, Newt Gingrich is running away from the other candidates on Twitter, with more than 1.3 million followers. And Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have the most Facebook fans among the GOP presidential hopefuls, and they follow Gingrich in the latest poll.
Snider also says that going viral is key, citing Ron Paul’s campaign as an example. They asked fans to change their Facebook profile picture to a photo of Ron Paul for a day.
Do you think Facebook and other social media will influence the results in the Iowa caucus?
Illustration courtesy of the Des Moines Register/Mark Marturello