Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) walks off the stage after speaking at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 24. Walker had a breakthrough moment at a forum for conservatives in Iowa and on Tuesday took a step toward a U.S. presidential run. (REUTERS/Jim Young/Files)

Scott Walker, we declared last week, is the first "it" candidate in the 2016 presidential race. But how exactly did he get that way?

As we've discussed before, the Wisconsin governor gave a very well-received speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit a couple weekends ago. In the 2004 election cycle, that might not have meant much outside the folks who actually witnessed the speech. But this is the social-media age.

Check out the chart below, which uses Facebook analytics. The data show how many people on Facebook mentioned Walker and how many total interactions he was a part of between Jan. 16 and Feb. 6.

The key date here: Walker's Iowa speech was on Jan. 24.

By Monday, Jan. 26, Walker got nearly 275,000 mentions on Facebook -- after getting only about 7,000 on Jan. 22. That's a 37-fold increase in four days.

And he's largely kept the buzz going. While it dipped a little bit as the week wore on, it shot right back up again on Feb. 1, the day after Bloomberg and the Des Moines Register released a new Iowa caucuses poll with a surprise leader: Scott Walker.

For more context, look at how Walker has compared to another leading 2016 contender, Jeb Bush, on Facebook.

This isn't entirely about social media, of course. And Walker surely did himself plenty of good nationally with his recall election win in 2012.

But it's also undeniable that a good speech like the one Walker gave in Des Moines travels much better than it once did -- so much so that it can quickly upend the polls and deliver a new front-runner in a matter of days ... 12 months before any actual votes are actually cast, of course.

Correction: This post initially said Walker's State of the State speech was Jan. 23. It was Jan. 13.