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Ron Paul is the exception to the rule on Twitter — comments about him are mostly positive, while for all the other Republican hopefuls and President Barack Obama, the twitter-verse has gone negative, according to a study of more than 20 million tweets about the 2012 race.

According to a report by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which examined tweets about the presidential race from May 2 to Nov. 27, the discourse on Twitter about the 2012 candidates are more opinionated and generally more negative than in the blogosphere and in the news.

The one candidate from the GOP field who fared the best in Twitter coverage was Paul, who enjoyed the most favorable coverage from all of the presidential candidates examined. Some 55 percent of the 140-character messages about him online have been positive, while just 15 percent were negative.

Negative tweets about the rest of the GOP field outstripped positive ones by at least a 2-1 margin, the study found. President Barack Obama got a worse beating on the social network, with unfavorable tweets about him outweighing the positive ones by a 3-1 margin.

Tweets about Obama were 51 percent negative and 17 percent positive. He had his busiest week from the period of May 2-8, immediately following the death of Osama bin Laden. That week was also the president’s best week, when he received 28 percent positive tweets compared to 47 percent negative.

Similarly, Mitt Romney’s coverage on Twitter was far more negative, 40 percent, than positive, 19 percent.

The study points out that the acronym RINO – “Republicans in name only” – surfaced frequently on the social network about the former Massachusetts governor. His worst coverage yet occurred in the last month, when negative tweets outstripped positive ones by more than 30 percentage points in three out of four weeks.

Newt Gingrich had the most volatile coverage on Twitter, who saw a surge in mentions from Nov. 7-27, around the time when his numbers soared in some polls. The analysis shows that the former House Speaker is being discussed more positively in recent weeks.

The volume of coverage about Obama far outweighed those for the GOP candidates and former hopeful Cain – the president had about 15 million mentions on Twitter during the timeframe examined in the study.

He was trailed by Cain, who got more than 2 million tweets during the 6-month period. Romney and Michele Bachmann were next, with around 1.6 and 1.4 million mentions on Twitter, respectively. Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum were the least mentioned on the social network, each getting a little more than 300,000 tweets.

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