Santorum loses fans; competition heats up between Obama and Romney this week on Inside Facebook’s Election Tracker

With Rick Santorum dropping out of the Republican presidential primary race on Tuesday, his Facebook page has begun to lose Likes, according to our Inside Facebook Election Tracker.

Mitt Romney’s page experienced a large surge following Santorum’s announcement, as Romney has essentially clinched the nomination to challenge Barack Obama for the presidency. Newt Gingrich, who has not yet ended his bid despite trailing in the polls, has been losing fans for the past few weeks. Ron Paul’s Facebook fan base continues to grow, though there is a much wider gap between him and Romney than previous months.

Despite the loss in fans, Santorum’s page had its highest People Talking About this count since March 24. A post about the end of his campaign generated more than 23,000 total Likes, comments and shares.

Romney’s page has had a lot of engagement this past week, particularly with an anti-Obama post that has more than 58,000 Likes. Now that Timeline has rolled out to all pages, Facebook seems to be showing cover photo stories more prominently in News Feed than it does profile photo changes, for example. Romney’s Facebook page managers might have noticed this and have cleverly decided to change his cover photo every few days. This activity generates between hundreds and thousands of fan interactions.

Obama’s page has had a number of anti-Romney posts this week that fans seem to be responding to. However, with a fan base of close to 26 million Likes, Obama’s page has only a 1.3 percent ratio of People Talking About This to total Likes. Romney’s page with 1.5 million fans has a 6 percent ratio of PTAT to Likes.

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