(WASHINGTON) -- Mitt Romney may have won the most states in Super Tuesday’s 10 primaries, but Rick Santorum stole the show online.
As Santorum took the stage for his election night speech, Twitter exploded with chatter about him.
More than 40,000 tweets -- or about 8 percent of all the Super Tuesday related tweets sent out from 6 a.m. Tuesday through 6 a.m. Wednesday -- mentioned Santorum and were fired off between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET during his speech, setting a 2012 election record for the highest spike in Twitter mentions of any GOP candidate, according to analyses by Twitter and the media analytics company Blue Fin Labs.
Santorum also topped the charts as the most-searched candidate on Yahoo! Tuesday.
“You consider that politics, particularly in the primary race, tends to be a game of buzz and momentum,” said Twitter spokesman Adam Sharp. “To win an election you want the conversation to be about you.”
But that online buzz was not necessarily a good thing for the candidate. An analysis of Yahoo! searches during Santorum’s speech, and corresponding Twitter spike, showed that the majority of the buzz was actually negative.
William Powers, director of the election project for Blue Fin Labs, said Santorum’s Twitter spike was the “highest percentage of clearly negative sentiment than any other candidate got all day.”
Yahoo! News Senior Editor Phoebe Connelly, who analyzed the search engine’s Super Tuesday data, said even though Santorum’s campaign has traveled the country for the past eight months, the majority of Yahoo! searchers were still trying to find out basic information about the candidate. Most searches were for things like “Rick Santorum bio.”
“It’s like they don’t know who he is and are now struggling to figure out who he is,” Connelly said.
Santorum’s social media spike on Tuesday was dramatic, but has been dwarfed by Romney’s sustained and substantial online presence. Romney has 10 times as many Facebook fans as Santorum and 1.2 million more fans than Newt Gingrich, who won only his home state of Georgia on Tuesday.
Colin Delany, the founder and editor of epolitics.com, which analyzes how politicians can best use social media, cautioned that this support online does not necessarily translate into support at the polls.
“It’s about like trying to predict an election based on how many yard signs someone has,” Delany said. “Sometimes it’s a good reflection but certainly not a definite correlation.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio