With the Republican and Democratic conventions upon us, it's an opportune time to take a pause and ask what the extent and nature of political word of mouth has been during the summer months.

We at Keller Fay are tracking political word of mouth in partnership with the National Journal, which publishes a weekly feature called Conversation Nation. Our research provides an ongoing, daily snapshot of the volume and polarity of the American people's word of mouth conversations about either President Obama or Governor Romney. Our study measures both offline word of mouth – which accounts for nearly 90% of all political WOM – as well as that which takes place online (~10%).

Here are some of the key findings from the period from May 28th through August 19th, 2012.

Two in five Americans have been talking about one or both of the presidential candidates on a typical day throughout the summer. Republicans have been talking more than Democrats, men more than women, the 60+ cohort more than any other age group, and African Americans more than other racial or ethnic groups.

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Obama has a steady talk advantage throughout most of the summer, with 35% of the public talking about the President each day compared to 26% for Romney. However, that gap began to narrow in August.

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The campaign has been called polarizing and negative. The conversational data reflects that tone. For Obama, 37% of conversations are positive whereas 40% are negative. For Romney, the split is 32% positive/39% negative.

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These have been some of the conversational dynamics of the campaign thus far. Let's consider it the first act. The conventions over the next two weeks provide a chance for each candidate to reset the conversational tone as they get ready for Act Two. Stay tuned.

Ed Keller, CEO of the Keller Fay Group, has been called "one of the most recognized names in word of mouth." His new book, The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace, was recently published by Free Press/Simon & Schuster. You can follow Ed Keller on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, or contact him directly at ekeller@kellerfay.com.

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