He's been a House Rep and a chairman of Congress's budget
committee. The Republican Party's proposal to balance the federal budget bears
his name. Yet Paul Ryan--the Wisconsinite and now Vice-Presidential
nominee--has a different battle ahead of him as the general election heats up:
winning the hearts and minds of social media users.
Within moments of Mitt Romney's announcement of Ryan as his
number two for his Presidential campaign, Ryan's profile on social media
rocketed. According to OhMyGov
Analytics, Ryan has over 197,000 Facebook fans and over 274,000 Twitter followers
online--the same as some large government agencies. Yet he stands at #37 in
OhMyGov's overall rankings for Congress, sandwiched between former Republican Presidential
candidate Ron Paul and Iowa's Steve King.
The media has weighed in on Romney's VP pick, with over
500 articles written about Ryan on Aug. 12 alone. The debate over his
qualifications on social media rages on.
"Ryan is the worst candidate I have ever seen to elect
as VP!" @SupermanHotMale
tweeted following Romney's announcement in Norfolk, Virginia last Saturday.
"Superb speech by @PaulRyanVP," Fox News analyst Monica Crowley wrote. "Whereas
Obama made it all about him, Romney and Ryan make it about US. About
Outside social media, Ryan's favorability rating is just as
evenly divided. The highly unscientific electionsmeter gives him an
extremely generous 50 percent approval rating. Meanwhile, Rasmussen--the
polling agency generally regarded as favoring Republicans--gives him a modest
39 percent approval rating.
Like many unknowns, Ryan has already attempted to brand
himself--at least on social media. There is the aforementioned Twitter handle,
as well as a companion account
on Facebook, which garnered over 17,000 comments in a single post alone.
A casual glance at Twitter illustrates the challenges Ryan
must overcome if he's to make an impression on voters. Among detractors, phrases like "right
wing racist,” "absolute chaos," and "not the right man for the
job" appeared in numerous tweets following the announcement of him as
Conversely, supporters were more apt to use positive words such
as "bold", "strong," "humble," and "grownup”
that underscore Ryan as a wholesome, family man, not the conservative fire
bomber progressives describe him as.
The Romney campaign has already rolled
out their version of Ryan in front of the press. Yet with Labor Day looming
and the general election less than three months away, Ryan will have to reach
out to more than just conservatives if he's to sway voters Romney's way.