2012 GOP Hopefuls Descend On Iowa And Facebook

As GOP 2012 hopefuls descend on Iowa for a debate and the Ames Straw Poll, Republican voters are posting up a storm on Facebook.

The Republican Party’s candidates for president — and their supporters — are descending on Iowa this week as the primary season officially gets underway, and Republican voters are posting up a storm on Facebook.

The festivities started last night when Fox News hosted a GOP debate with eight of the main candidates at Iowa State University in Ames.

The debate was a precursor to the main event: The Ames Straw Poll at Iowa State University tomorrow.

The straw poll has become a right of passage for Republican presidential hopefuls as it marks the unofficial launch of the GOP primary campaign season before the first votes are counted at the Iowa Caucuses early next year.

The debate didn’t disappoint judging by the reaction on Facebook. Status updates during the debate ranged from how each of the candidates were faring to the strength of the questions posed by the Fox News hosts.

The Fox News GOP Debate Facebook app generated more than 1,340 comments from viewers with dozens of posts going up each hour during the two-hour event.

Not surprisingly, Facebook was flooded with posts devoted to Texas Representative Ron Paul, whose legions of fans are renowned for their extremely vocal support of the candidate during radio and TV call-in shows, at political gatherings and yes, on Facebook. And, at this writing, Rep. Paul won the debate with 46.52 percent of the vote according to Fox News’ Facebook poll.

And even politicians who neither participated in the debate nor will be at Saturday’s straw poll are getting attention on Facebook. Take New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, whose supporters complained on Facebook all day long that he was excluded from the debate. The governor himself took to Twitter and Facebook to share his views as the debate rolled along without him.

Both former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who is busing into Iowa this weekend, and Texas Governor Rick Perry , who is expected to jump into the race officially on Saturday, didn’t participate in last night’s debate but received plenty of attention nonetheless on the social networking site.

Do you think the enthusiasm for a candidate on Facebook will translate into votes?