Politics
              Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum addresses supporters at his Iowa caucus victory party Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
              Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum addresses supporters at his Iowa caucus victory party Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)   

While neck and neck with Romney at Iowa, Santorum has far lead on Google

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses by a hair, with final tallies being reported in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but Google users across Iowa and the U.S. were more interested in reading about former Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul.

Santorum, who has surged from behind in media and Internet interest over the past week, was listed on Tuesday as a “Hot Trend” — an indicator Google uses to show what readers in the U.S. are most interested in searching for throughout the day. Internet users in Iowa and the U.S. showed little search interest in Romney, who has enjoyed a continued media spotlight but was nowhere to be found on that list.

Santorum, who for the first time surpassed Romney on December 29, 2011 in Google user search interest, again overtook the former governor on New Years Day, gaining a substantial lead in search popularity on Jan. 2. Paul, who dominated the GOP field in Internet interest for the month of December, continued his reign over the other two contenders in overall search interest on Google.

While, on a relative scale of 100, Santorum had a 45-point national lead over Romney among national Google users, the divide between the contenders was much closer for Iowa searches, with Santorum only having a 15-point lead over Romney.

Santorum has also seen an increase in positive sentiment among Twitter users over the past 30 days. While the majority of Tweets about “Santorum” were considered neutral in sentiment by social media analytics company PeopleBrowsr, there was a significant rise in positive sentiment for Santorum over the past week. Sentiment is an analytics measurement to gauge how a particular group feels about a subject.

Heading into the morning of the Iowa caucuses, however, Romney had more Facebook “Likes” than the rest of the GOP presidential field. The former governor of Massachusetts sported over 1,270,340 “Likes,” in comparison to Santorum, who had 43,259 “Likes.” A “Like” on Facebook is similar to a “Follower” on Twitter. (RELATED: Ron Paul, president of Facebook)

“Thank you, Iowa! What better place than the heartland of America to start the restoration of America’s heart and soul,” Romney posted on Facebook in the final minutes of the caucuses.

As of Wednesday morning, Romney’s post — which was shared over 240 times by Facebook users — received over 2,150 comments, and was “Liked”  by over 11, 763 people. Comments — both positive and negative in tone — included supportive congratulatory remarks, heavy skepticism of his policy proposals, and comments supportive of the other front-runners.

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