Editor's note: This is the first in a series of stories as part of an exclusive partnership between CNN and Facebook that will take the electorate's pulse through social media this election cycle. Michelle Jaconi is CNN's executive producer of cross-platform programming and Mark Preston is CNN's political director. They are co-authors of CNN's Political Gut Check, a daily political newsletter.
Washington (CNN) -- A seven-term Wisconsin congressman, who 54% of the American people were not aware of last week, just knocked the president of the United States off of his perch as the most talked-about politician on the largest social media platform in the world.
According to the exclusive Facebook-CNN Election Talk Meter, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, in the first 54 hours after being announced as Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate, sucked up the political oxygen in the social media landscape -- with the Beltway topping the buzz and his home state of Wisconsin close behind.
What caught our eye? The swing states of Virginia (where Ryan was announced) and New Hampshire were also high on the list:
Facebook-CNN talk meter scores
1. Rep. Paul Ryan 5.21
2. President Barack Obama 4.84
3. Vice President Joe Biden 4.01
4. Gov. Mitt Romney 3.74
For perspective, when Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history on July 31, he registered a 6.51 on the same 1-10 scale.
Top 10 states + D.C. buzzing about Ryan
1. Washington, D.C.
4. New Hampshire
10. North Carolina
Note: The talk meter calculates a jump in buzz, so Ryan's relative anonymity helped him jump up the talk meter scale. Yet the growth wasn't just in buzz, but also in "likes" -- the Facebook term for social approval which enables people to follow your moves closely and voice their support to their social networks.
Ryan's new fan page has grown from zero to more than half a million fans, already topping that of the sitting vice president, Joe Biden.
Facebook fan growth at publication time
• 27.8 million fans currently
• Since August 1: Added 150,000 fans (+0.5%)
• Since Saturday: Added 9,900 fans (+0.03%)
• 355,000 fans currently
• Since August 1: Added 4,200 fans (+1.2%)
• Since Saturday: Added 728 fans (+0.2%)
• 4.1 million fans currently
• Since August 1: Added 906,600 fans (+28.3%)
• Since Saturday: Added 111,400 fans (+2.8%)
• 501,000 fans currently
• Since August: Fan page didn't exist
• On Saturday: Added 222,100 fans
• Since Saturday: Added 237,900 fans (+107.1%)
Fans by state
2. New York
2. New York
4. North Carolina
We often say we write about demographics, not politics. Thus it comes as no surprise that we are once again writing about the gender gap and the age gap in this election -- something that the insights from Facebook reveal also exist online.
Gender and age breakdown of Facebook fans
Average age: 28
Average age: 35
Average age: 46
Paul Ryan VP
Average age: 43
How this translates to the election will be something we keep our eye on from now until November. It's staggering when you put it in historical perspective: Today there are 160 million monthly active users on Facebook in the United States -- more than half the U.S. population. In 2008, there were 35 million monthly active users.