facebook talk meter

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of stories as part of an exclusive partnership between CNN and Facebook that will take the electorate’s pulse through social media this election cycle. Michelle Jaconi is CNN’s executive producer of cross-platform programming and Mark Preston is CNN’s political director. They are co-authors of CNN’s Political Gut Check, a daily political newsletter.

Story highlights

Since being announced as Romney's running mate, Ryan has dominated social media

Ryan's relative anonymity before being picked helped him jump up the scale

Ryan's Facebook fans skew more toward males and older

Washington CNN  — 

A seven-term Wisconsin congressman, who 54% of the American people were not aware of last week, just knocked the president of the United States off of his perch as the most talked-about politician on the largest social media platform in the world.

According to the exclusive Facebook-CNN Election Talk Meter, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, in the first 54 hours after being announced as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, sucked up the political oxygen in the social media landscape – with the Beltway topping the buzz and his home state of Wisconsin close behind.

What caught our eye? The swing states of Virginia (where Ryan was announced) and New Hampshire were also high on the list:

Facebook-CNN talk meter scores

1. Rep. Paul Ryan 5.21

2. President Barack Obama 4.84

3. Vice President Joe Biden 4.01

4. Gov. Mitt Romney 3.74

For perspective, when Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history on July 31, he registered a 6.51 on the same 1-10 scale.

CNN's Michelle Jaconi and Mark Preston

Top 10 states + D.C. buzzing about Ryan

1. Washington, D.C.

2. Wisconsin

3. Virginia

4. New Hampshire

5. Maryland

6. Minnesota

7. Massachusetts

8. Utah

9. Vermont

10. North Carolina

Note: The talk meter calculates a jump in buzz, so Ryan’s relative anonymity helped him jump up the talk meter scale. Yet the growth wasn’t just in buzz, but also in “likes” – the Facebook term for social approval which enables people to follow your moves closely and voice their support to their social networks.

Ryan’s new fan page has grown from zero to more than half a million fans, already topping that of the sitting vice president, Joe Biden.

Facebook fan growth at publication time

Barack Obama

• 27.8 million fans currently

• Since August 1: Added 150,000 fans (+0.5%)

• Since Saturday: Added 9,900 fans (+0.03%)

Joe Biden

• 355,000 fans currently

• Since August 1: Added 4,200 fans (+1.2%)

• Since Saturday: Added 728 fans (+0.2%)

Mitt Romney

• 4.1 million fans currently

• Since August 1: Added 906,600 fans (+28.3%)

• Since Saturday: Added 111,400 fans (+2.8%)

Paul Ryan

• 501,000 fans currently

• Since August: Fan page didn’t exist

• On Saturday: Added 222,100 fans

• Since Saturday: Added 237,900 fans (+107.1%)

Fans by state

Barack Obama

1. California

2. New York

3. Texas

4. Florida

5. Illinois

Joe Biden

1. California

2. New York

3. Florida

4. Texas

5. Illinois

Mitt Romney

1. Texas

2. California

3. Florida

4. Georgia

5. Ohio

Paul Ryan

1. Texas

2. Florida

3. California

4. North Carolina

5. Wisconsin

We often say we write about demographics, not politics. Thus it comes as no surprise that we are once again writing about the gender gap and the age gap in this election – something that the insights from Facebook reveal also exist online.

Gender and age breakdown of Facebook fans

Barack Obama

Average age: 28

Male: 51%

Female: 49%

Joe Biden

Average age: 35

Male: 51%

Female: 49%

Mitt Romney

Average age: 46

Male: 50%

Female: 50%

Paul Ryan VP

Average age: 43

Male: 63%

Female: 37%

How this translates to the election will be something we keep our eye on from now until November. It’s staggering when you put it in historical perspective: Today there are 160 million monthly active users on Facebook in the United States – more than half the U.S. population. In 2008, there were 35 million monthly active users.