#DemDebate: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders (and Donald Trump) Drove Social Buzz

By Justin Lafferty Comment

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Tuesday night was the first debate for the Democratic candidates for the presidency, and two people in particular led the discussion on social: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. However, another powerful force on social was nowhere near the stage on Tuesday.

SocialTimes examined the debate on social in three key areas: overall buzz, the candidates and the issues.

Overall buzz

Nielsen’s Twitter data shows that 8.9 million people in the U.S. saw one or more of the 2.8 million tweets sent about the debate on Tuesday. Other notes from Nielsen:

  • In the U.S., Tweets about the TV event were sent by 584,000 people and seen more than 325 million times (Twitter TV Impressions).
  • The most Tweeted minute of the night was at 9:50 p.m. ET, when 33,500 Tweets were sent following Bernie Sanders’ comment about Hilary Clinton’s emails.
  • The top @mentioned candidate of the night was @BernieSanders who was mentioned in 233,200 Tweets around the TV event.

Facebook told SocialTimes that during the debate, 4.2 million U.S. Facebook users made more than 10 million debate-related interactions, such as likes, posts, comments and shares.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.12.01 PM

According to Talkwalker, an advanced social analytics company, #DemDebate was mentioned 25.5 million times on Facebook and Twitter combined (from 5 p.m. ET to 5 a.m. ET), and received more than 9,300 engagements.

Synthesio found that 14.2 percent of all mentions of the debate were positive; 12.8 percent of all mentions of the debate were negative.

Spredfast told SocialTimes that the breakdown of people posting about the debate was 64 percent male, 36 percent female.

The candidates

According to Facebook data from Talkwalker, Sanders was the most-talked about candidate on Facebook from 5 a.m. ET to 5 p.m. ET. Here are the full rankings (data provided from Facebook showed identical rankings):

  1. Bernie Sanders
  2. Hillary Clinton
  3. Jim Webb
  4. Martin O’Malley
  5. Lincoln Chafee

Talkwalker compared the activity of Sanders and Clinton on Twitter:

  • @HilaryClinton received 293.8K mentions
  • @HilaryClinton received 228.9K engagements
  • @HilaryClinton had the potential to reach 4.5G users
  • @HilaryClinton gained 13,252 Twitter followers
  • @BernieSanders received 247.8K mentions
  • @BernieSanders received 185.6K engagements
  • @BernieSanders had the potential to reach 4.7G users
  • @BernieSanders gained 35,163 Twitter followers

Here’s a look at most-mentioned Twitter accounts, via Brandwatch:

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 11.57.26 PM_BWSanders also gained the most Facebook fans of any Democratic debater overnight, according to Vocativ, but Republican challenger Donald Trump was actually the biggest gainer in terms of Facebook fan page likes.

However, finding out who was the clear-cut winner on social overall isn’t as easy.

According to Synthesio, Clinton captured 40.3 percent of the online mentions. Sanders was second at 27.7 percent, then Webb at 14.9 percent, O’Malley at 9.4 percent and Chafee at 7.7 percent.

Data from Brandwatch has Sanders far out in front, with more than 407,000 mentions in the 3 hours surrounding the debate.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 11.25.50 PM_BWHowever, just because a candidate is highly-mentioned doesn’t mean that all of those tweets, posts and comments are positive.

Synthesio found that O’Malley actually had the highest percentage of positive sentiment on social, while Clinton had the highest percentage of negative sentiment:

  • Clinton (8.2 percent positive – 10.4 percent negative)
  • Sanders (9.3 percent positive – 10.3 percent negative)
  • Webb (7.6 percent positive – 7.7 percent negative)
  • O’Malley (15 percent positive – 6.2 percent negative)
  • Chafee (14 percent positive – 9.4 percent negative)

In an email to SocialTimes, Clarabridge explained the sentiment change on social for Clinton and Sanders:

Bernie Sanders was received better than Hillary Clinton on social media, receiving a +.03 sentiment score compared to Clinton’s -.02. Though the data did show that Hillary was far more polarizing, as more viewers commented neutrally on Bernie while people had more strong feelings one way or another for Hillary.

But one of the social superstars from Tuesday night’s debate wasn’t even on stage. Trump, the real estate mogul and reality TV star, is powerful on social media.

Using ListenFirst Media’s Digital Engagement Rating (DER), which takes into account voter behavior across Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Wikipedia and YouTube, Trump was tops. Trump, as well as several other GOP candidates, offered live commentary during the debate on Facebook and Twitter.

ListenFirst Media noted that Trump had a DER of 1,431,870 — more than double Sanders’ rating of 689,817, the highest Democratic candidate.

Here was Trump’s most retweeted thought from Tuesday night:

The issues

Guns and gun control were the most-talked about topic during the debate on Twitter, according to ListenFirst. The issue was discussed in nearly 35,400 tweets during the debate and was responsible for 28 percent of the conversation. Other popular topics on Twitter during #DemDebate: college (29K tweets), Black Lives Matter (24K), climate change (23K) and marijuana (16K).

Synthesio data also shows that guns were the most-talked about issue from the debate on social media, followed by education and immigration.

Debate TopicsJust looking at Facebook data, racial issues were the most discussed on the site during the debate:

  1. Racial Issues
  2. The Economy
  3. Government Ethics
  4. Environment/Energy Policy
  5. Guns

Clarabridge listed how social sentiment around specific candidates changed by topic, in an email to SocialTimes:

  • Foreign Policy: is a big strength of Clinton’s but a weakness for other Democrats on stage. Foreign Policy scored the lowest sentiment for Democrats overall (-.59), however Clinton scored .43 points higher on Foreign Policy and had 38% more tweets on this issue.
  • Benghazi and Emailgate: still negative issues for Clinton, both scoring negative in sentiment (-.54 and -.52) on social media
  • Gun control: Neither Bernie nor Hillary performed strongly on the topic, but Bernie was certainly received more warmly, with -.1 in sentiment compared to Hillary’s -.33.
  • Climate Change: Bernie Sanders came across as slightly stronger with voters, rating .37 points higher in sentiment than Clinton.
  • Student Loan Debt: is a winning issue for Sanders; the candidate featured 98% more comments and .3 higher sentiment than Clinton on this topic
  • Black Lives Matter: Sanders’ response resonated much more strongly, with 58% more tweets than Hillary’s.
  • Abortion: Hillary’s comments were received more positively (+.02 sentiment), while Sanders’ response garnered a -.11 sentiment score.

Clarabridge also compiled the amount of chatter with sentiment, comparing the data from last night’s debate to the most recent Republican debate. Foreign policy and women’s rights dominated the chatter from the most recent GOP debate — and figures from last night’s Democratic debate couldn’t come close to these issues.

0702A3D3-2071-415D-B647-E09A9B336507Other interesting social tidbits

— Most people engaging on social about #DemDebate were doing so from iPhones, according to Spredfast:

  • iPhones – 46 percent
  • Desktop – 26 percent
  • Android – 17 percent
  • Other – 7 percent
  • iPad – 4 percent

— Sanders’ comment, “The American people are sick of hearing about your damn emails,” registered more than 12,000 social mentions. (Brandwatch)

— Twitter saw a spike in use of the term “socialism” from 37 (the moment before Sanders discussed it) to 1,848 at the moment he self-identified. (Spredfast)

— Though the debate was in Las Vegas, Nev., people in Sin City weren’t really talking about the debate as much as other cities. Washington D.C. led mentions-by-location, followed by Manhattan. Vegas (Paradise) came in ninth overall. (Spredfast)

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Manhattan
  3. Culver City
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Chicago
  6. Philadelphia
  7. South Boston
  8. Houston
  9. Paradise
  10. Syracuse

— Via Facebook, most engaged states during the debate:

  1. Vermont
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Maryland
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Virginia and Nevada (tied)

— Using ListenFirst’s DER metric, Webb actually had the largest growth — 1,355 percent (10K to 145K) higher than the previous day. Chafee’s DER value grew by 1,243 percent (6K to 76K) and O’Malley by 1,190 percent (7K to 95K). (ListenFirst)

Readers: Who was the most impressive candidate Tuesday night?

Image courtesy of Getty Images.

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