Will Facebook Debate Spur A Huntsman Shakeup In NH?

Sparks flew at the Facebook/NBC News "Meet the Press" Republican Candidates debate ahead of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. But will the drama affect the outcome of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary?

Sparks flew at the Facebook/NBC News “Meet the Press” Republican Candidates debate ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.But will the drama affect the outcome of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary?

The issue before the first primary in the nation is not who will win — most polls indicate that will be Mitt Romney.

Despite the blows he took at Sunday’s debate, Romney still has the most Facebook fans of all the GOP candidates at more than 1.2 million, adding nearly 5,000 new Facebook fans in the past day.

The bigger question is, who will capture second place?

Jon Huntsman appears to be the man with the momentum. Here’s a look at where the candidates fighting for second stand using Election Tracker 2012.

Jon Huntsman

While Huntsman had a strong debate performance Sunday (see his post-debate Facebook message at the end of this post), he hasn’t seen that translate to Facebook enthusiasm quite yet.

He remains in ninth place among the GOP contenders in Facebook fans, with 33,396. That’s roughly half the fans of his next closest competitor, Rick Santorum, who saw a bump in likes after his Iowa caucus win. In the past seven days, Huntsman has added 2,772 new Facebook fans.

At least someone — or three — in his family have a strong social network presence. Three daughters have taken to Twitter, @Jon2012Girls, to pump up their dad’s candidacy.

Ron Paul

Despite two polls Sunday night showing Ron Paul in second place, experts predict his New Hampshire race may be faltering as Huntsman closes in, with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich on his heels.

Paul remains a solid second in total Facebook fans among the contenders with more than 702,329. He added 3,296 fans in just the last day, one of the highest daily totals among all elected officials.

Rick Santorum

Talk about an Iowa bump! Rick Santorum, the man who came from behind to virtually tie Romney last week, has seen his Facebook fan page growth steady. But not before garnering more than one-third of his total Facebook fans in the days following his improbable caucus showing. Will waning enthusiasm online, and lackluster debate performances, indicate a stall in his campaign?

A note about the Facebook debate: The integration of Facebook into the event coverage really worked. NBC News used the last 15 minutes of the debate to ask the candidates questions from the “Meet the Press” Facebook page, where more than 4,600 comments were shared, and posts were culled from the social network and featured on-screen during the program. (see above.)

Readers, do you plan on tracking the results of the New Hampshire primary on Facebook?

Photo: courtesy Associated Press