The biggest storyline surrounding the most recent Republican presidential debate in Iowa was the absence of frontrunner Donald Trump.
The no-show certainly didn’t hurt Trump on social, where he was still the most-talked about candidate—despite not being on stage.
New metrics from SocialFlow and Brandwatch show how Trump’s non-presence loomed large. According to SocialFlow, there were nearly 1 million Twitter mentions of Trump on Jan. 27, a day before the most recent debate. The day of the debate, Jan. 28, Trump was mentioned 799,328 times. On Jan. 29, Trump was mentioned more than 923,000 mentions on twitter.
Other top GOP candidates in that timeframe:
- Ted Cruz: 200,968 on Jan. 27; 187,114 on Jan. 28; 327,946 on Jan. 29
- Ben Carson: 5,695 on Jan. 27; 5,292 on Jan. 28 (but with more than 41,000 on Jan. 29)
- Marco Rubio: 42,037 on Jan. 27; 61,657 on Jan. 28; 204k+ on Jan. 29
- Jeb Bush: 19,174 on Jan. 27; 20,081 on Jan. 28; 71,331 on Jan. 29
- Rand Paul: 8,227 on Jan. 27; 7,114 on Jan. 28; 39,197 on Jan. 29
During the actual debate, Trump still was the main topic of conversation. Brandwatch data showed that he outpaced the candidates on stage in terms of social mentions.
Nate Walton, Brandwatch’s director of professional services, discussed the social media prowess of Donald Trump:
Donald Trump didn’t partake in the debate but his presence still loomed on social where he led all candidates in pure volume of mentions. He was the butt of plenty of jokes in his absence, but other candidates were all too eager to try to take up his “Politics are too PC” mantle. Most candidates appeared to take aim at Ted Cruz – perhaps sensing an opportunity to move higher in both the social and traditional polls. After all, social media is increasingly a new way to poll: it gives us an edge over survey or phone data because it allows us to discover trends and dissect topics in near real-time.
SocialFlow data shows that, on Twitter, Trump is the most talked about politician or celebrity — toppling Justin Bieber and Kanye West.