Nevermind the recent gaffes and the lagging swing state polls, Mitt Romney has a major problem right now. And it's called Facebook.
Romney's trouble with the social network has nothing to do with President Obama's commanding overall lead in total number of Facebook "Likes."
Rather, it has everything to do with the fact that in August, plenty of people were liking Mitt Romney on Facebook, yet in September that growth has suddenly --- and significantly --- slowed.
Everything looked hunky dory on September 1, the day after the former Massachusetts governor formally accepted the Republican nomination for president. On that day, Romney netted 212,556 new Facebook fans, his biggest day ever according to OhMyGov Media Monitoring. The strong gains capped a huge month for Romney, during which he grew his Facebook following by 88%, adding 2.8 million new fans.
Then, immediately, the growth slowed. On Sept. 2, Romney added only 107k fans, less than half the previous day. During the Democratic convention, Romney's growth slowed further, though he still outgained Obama during the week.
But the really bad news for the Romney campaign is that the trend has been downhill, not uphill, since the Democrats left Charlotte. In fact, Romney's best day on Facebook since the (Democratic) convention wasn't as good as his worst day during the convention.
Even for folks who don't put much stock in social media numbers, there can be little doubt: this trend is certifiable bad news for Camp Romney.
A Facebook like does not equal a vote, but it's a fairly useful proxy. Facebook likes can actually help a candidate by showing positive momentum and providing extra data points beyond polls. At the very least, a Like shows a willingness to vote for a person. The fact that Romney isn't nabbing more of these "practice votes" at this critical stage in the race is further sign he received no sustained convention bounce. We'll be watching the debates closely --- they are Romney's last chance to change the dynamic of the race.
Here's the graphical story:
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