Election Oracle

02.01.12

Republicans' Romnesignation

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waves to supporters after winning the Florida primary election, in Tampa, Jan. 31, 2012 (Gerald Herbert / AP Photo)

After trouncing Newt Gingrich in Florida on Tuesday, winning by 15 percentage points overall and beating the former speaker among almost every group of Republican primary voters, Mitt Romney firmly established himself as the party’s nominee apparent. But even as Romney has separated himself from the pack, Web chatter about him has become increasingly and overwhelmingly negative.

Romney’s Web favorability Tuesday was -54, according to the Election Oracle—the lowest number he’s registered since voting began.

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To determine favorability ratings, the Election Oracle tracks 40,000 news sites, blogs, message boards, Twitter feeds, and other social-media sources to analyze what millions of people are saying about the candidates—and determines whether the Web buzz is positive or negative. That rating is weighted, along with the Real Clear Politics polling average and the latest InTrade market data, to calculate each candidate’s chances of winning the Republican nomination. (See methodology here.)

The trend captures Romney's challenge over the past month as he's tried to energize a reluctant GOP base, and appeal to the independent voters who figure to be crucial in a competitive race against Obama. While Senior Republican leaders and conservative media figures have backed Romney in recent weeks, they’ve done so in large part to sway voters away from Gingrich, who many fear would be uncompetitive against Obama and a drag on down-ticket Republicans. To capture the lack of excitement about the prospect of Romney as the party’s nominee, one Tweeter Tuesday coined the term Romnesignation.

That's good news, naturally, for President Obama. While polls show Romney and Obama competitive in the fall, the Election Oracle suggests a steeper climb for Romney. Even as Obama has struggled to explain away the sour economy on his watch, he’s continued to generate a more positive conversation online. His Web favorability rating was 32 on Tuesday, 86 points higher than Romney.