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Rick Santorum has Twitter talking before Michigan | @MentionMachine

at 10:45 AM ET, 02/27/2012

Rick Santorum is topping the @MentionMachine leaderboard heading into the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Tuesday, but all that buzz doesn’t appear to be tilting in his favor.

Santorum was mentioned in 62,592 more tweets in the past week than Mitt Romney, with whom he is deadlocked in recent polls in Michigan. Romney was mentioned in 48 more media stories tracked by Trove and @MentionMachine.

But the trends in conversation about Santorum shows some areas for concern. Tweets about him peaked last Wednesday, the day of the CNN Debate in Arizona where Santorum didn’t perform well. After that debate, Google released search statistics

Tweets about Santorum peaked last Wednesday, the day of the CNN Debate in Arizona, where Santorum did not have a good performance.

After that debate, Google released search statistics pertaining to the debate. Santorum was the most searched candidate during the debate, as well as the most tweeted about. But as Rachel Weiner wrote, the searches weren’t for information that was likely to help his case.

The word “earmark” was up 2300 percent, “bridge to nowhere” up 600 percent, and “title x/10” up 450 percent. All these subjects relate to Santorum’s career in the Senate — his votes for earmarks, including one for the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” and his support for Title X funding that indirectly helped Planned Parenthood.

Social analytics Web site Topsy scored the sentiment of Tweets about the candidates, and the news there was not encouraging for Santorum. He had the highest percentage of tweets containing negative sentiment and the lowest percentage of tweets containing positive sentiment that night:

Tweets about Santorum fell off after the debate, then spiked again on Saturday, the day he grabbed headlines by calling President Obama a “snob” for “wanting everybody to go to college.”

Santorum has been on top of the MentionMachine for most of the time since his upset wins in the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses and Missouri primary earlier this month, but Tuesday could reveal whether that spotlight has been kind to him.

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