With two early wins, and healthy lead heading into South Carolina’s primary, Mitt Romney is riding high by most measures. Yet according to the Daily Beast’s Election Oracle, his web sentiment has fallen through the floor, suggesting that the higher he gets in the polls as the presumptive nominee, the more critical his opponents, the media and web users have become.Each day the Oracle scours 40,000 news sites, blogs, message boards, Twitter feeds, and other social-media sources to track what's being said about candidates and to determine whether the tone of the conversation is positive or negative. Based on its findings it assigns each candidate a daily favorability rating on a scale of negative 100 to positive 100. (See methodology here.)
Romney’s drop-off has been steady and systematic. After winning Iowa, Romney’s web favorability dropped more than 50 points (from 44 to -14). Following his New Hampshire victory, it has fallen another 27 points. Several factors may be at play, including Romney’s unfortunate gaffe when he stated the words “I like being able to fire people,” which produced several news cycles of negative press as the quote was taken out of context. Critical ads, many of them produced by Newt Gingrich’s Super PAC, drew unflattering attention to Romney’s career as a management consultant who occasionally slashed company payrolls to make them more efficient.
The good news for Romney is that the only real place to go is up. The barrage of attacks about his consulting record has given the candidate time to craft his response before being hit by the same critiques in the general election. The web, of course, is nothing but fickle. Pending that his GOP rivals eventually stop their attacks and Romney crafts an effective general election message, there’s reason to believe the web could swing back in his favor.