By Ryan Isakow
Nearly a year after his failed presidential campaign, Mitt Romney still gets surprisingly high news coverage. While media attention after an election was not unexpected for John Kerry or John McCain, both of whom remained powerful Senators (and who still have major roles today), Mitt Romney doesn’t currently hold public office. He also isn’t running a major public organization (like Bill Clinton) or involving himself actively in his party organization (like Howard Dean). While there’s been a huge drop-off since election day, he’s still getting as many as 15 national news stories a day.
The big jump in March comes from Romney’s interview with Chris Wallace, which received serious media coverage. He also spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in March, Romney’s first major speech since his election. Even without these events, he’s still receiving consistent, if fluctuating, news coverage. On social media, it’s a slightly different story.
His talked abouts on Facebook follow a pattern of spikes. Talked abouts will fall to a few thousand per day – still an impressive amount for any politician – then jump to several hundred thousand about once a month, only to drop off a few days later. What’s going on here? There’s a loose connection with a jump in Facebook shares from Romney’s page that comes with his occasional new posts, but not enough to explain the entire increase. One explanation is that news media mentions Romney in relation to other stories as a secondary actor, while social media users only focus on Romney when he is the subject of the story. It’s also possible that by virtue of having 11 million Facebook likes from the election a larger sample of people get news on Romney through their newsfeed whenever he’s featured in the media.
Even when out of the limelight, Romney is still getting huge spikes of social and traditional media activity far outweighing what we’d expect from a failed presidential candidate who holds no office. Is this the new norm for failed Presidential candidates in the age of social media? As the 2014 midterms come closer, we’ll be keeping an eye on Romney to see how his clout changes as new races move to the forefront of political news.