Is Paul Ryan the next Marco Rubio?


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By Becky Hogan

Senator Marco Rubio’s support among conservatives has plummeted since he championed the Senate’s immigration bill last month.  Paul Ryan is emerging as the leader of immigration reform in the House, so does he risk the same fate as Rubio among his conservative base?

Rubio has not mentioned the bill since it passed the Senate three weeks ago, and his news coverage has also diminished recently.  Meanwhile Ryan’s national media coverage is starting to pick up as he continues to meet with the ‘Gang of Seven’–the bi-partisan group in the House that’s focusing on immigration.

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Click to enlarge

What’s more interesting is that Rubio has been losing Facebook Likes ever since the Senate immigration bill passed on June 27.

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And a day after the Senate passed its immigration overhaul, Ryan made a statement announcing that while the House would not pass the Senate’s version of the legislation, the lower chamber planned to work on it’s own bill to create a “workable legal immigration system.”

Since that time, Ryan has also seen a decline in Facebook Likes.

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While these declines are not huge given how large both Ryan and Rubio’s Facebook followings are, it’s interesting to note that they are losing traction on Facebook in the same time-frame that they have come out supporting immigration reform.

We also compared Rubio and Ryan’s social media following on Facebook and Twitter to two other GOPers–Speaker John Boehner who has refused to take a stance on the issue and Rep. Steve King who has been one of the most vocal House members against immigration reform.

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Over the past month, Ryan and Rubio have both lost Facebook Likes since supporting immigration reform legislation.  Meanwhile, Boehner and King have maintained positive gains for Facebook Likes–albeit very small gains.

On Twitter, Rubio, Ryan, and Boeher have all seen gains in their Twitter Followings indicating that the Twitterverse may be more pro-immigration reform than Facebook users are.  Following the trend, King has seen the smallest following of all four lawmakers and has also been the most adverse to the Senate’s bill.

According to Pew Internet Research, urban-dwellers are significantly more likely than both suburban and rural residents to be on Twitter—so it is often assumed that Twitter has a slightly more liberal bias.

Facebook continues to be the most widely used social network with two-thirds of online adults using the social networking site.

Overall, Facebook and Twitter users tend to be young adults, and thus are far from being random sample of the American electorate, but these gains and losses give us insight into some interesting political trends.

Immigration reform highlights a deep divide in the Republican Party and that divide seems to be echoed on social media too.  Will Republicans, and in particular Paul Ryan, continue to lose traction among their most conservative supporters if they choose to support immigration legislation?

We’ll continue to monitor these trends as the House deliberates on immigration reform.

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