As Mitt Romney solidifies his status as the nominee-apparent, Web sentiment about him is now more negative than about any of his Republican rivals. And the online conversation about President Obama has become far more favorable than that about Romney—a deficit could widen if Romney’s remaining opponents continue to attack him at tonight’s debate in Myrtle Beach.
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. (See methodology here.)
Romney’s slumping favorability numbers suggest his opponents may have still have time to rebound if the frontrunner makes a serious unforced error before South Carolina’s primary next Tuesday. Rick Santorum continues to lead the field in favorability, and saw a boost over the weekend after Friday’s vote of support from national evangelical leaders hoping to consolidate social conservatives around one candidate. Both Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have seen their favorability ratings rebound into positive territory after falling below zero last week.Finally, Jon Huntsman, who’s dropping out of the race today and endorsing Romney, was the one Republican to never crest in the polls into a moment as a top-tier candidate. But by stepping out in time to avoid hurting Romney’s chances in South Carolina’s primary next Tuesday, he appears to have kept his reputation intact for a future run. He’s exiting with a high favorability rating (49 on Sunday), which along with building his name recognition through his run this year could pay off for Hunstman down the road.