Rick Santorum’s Iowa surge. Charted.

at 12:56 PM ET, 01/03/2012

Evidence of former Pennsyvania senator Rick Santorum ’s surge in Iowa is everywhere — from packed events over the final few days to a media horde now following his every move.

Move from 10 feet to 10,000 feet — the Fix is nothing if not a high-riser — and the rapidity of Santorum’s rise is equally striking.

Two charts capture that ascent. A third suggests that Santorum may have peaked — at least in the world of social media — slightly too early.

The first chart comes to us courtesy of TargetPoint — a Republican micro-targeting firm. TargetPoint has put together something called the “National Dialogue Monitor” that “tracks every time a celebrity, organization, issue or corporation is mentioned across all media channels – television, radio, newspapers, magazines, blogs, websites and social networks – measuring the associated volume, tone, and topics of each tracked entity”. (And, yes, we are going to be referencing this data all the time going forward.)

Here’s a look at the dialogue about the Republican field over the past two weeks:

The second chart comes courtesy of the newest Washington Post tool. It’s called Mention Machine and it is amazing — helpfully tracking the mentions (and actual tweets) of the candidates in field over time.

Here’s Santorum’s trendline on Twitter over the past week:

But, the Mention Machine data also may carry an ill omen for Santorum as over the past few hours the number of Tweets about him has dropped precipitously. (Or maybe it’s just a mid-day lag. People have to eat lunch, after all.)

As we often note, data alone isn’t determinative. If it was, the Oakland A’s would be World Series champions every year. But this data does back up the sense on the ground that Santorum is the momentum candidate in today’s Iowa caucuses.

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