Biden Bests Ryan On Facebook During Fiery Vice Presidential Debate

By Jennifer Moire 

The only debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was a substantive and spirited affair, with supporters on Facebook weighing in on everything from taxes to abortion and from Iran to Libya.

While the mainstream media were split over who won the “duel in Danville, Ky.,” Facebook users appeared to draw a clear conclusion.

According to Facebook-CNN Election Insights, Biden owned the night. His name was spiking on Facebook, garnering 400,000 mentions between the hours of 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET.  As of 10 p.m. ET, he had 718,677 Facebook mentions Thursday, while Ryan had 636,868.

The U.S. Politics on Facebook page posted more official statistics. Biden had 36 percent more mentions on Facebook than Ryan, while President Barack Obama received 27 percent more mentions than Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The top five mentions on Facebook pertaining to the vice presidential debate were:

  1. Biden
  2. Ryan
  3. Debate
  4. Obama
  5. Romney

Our far more anecdotal research, based on keyword searches of public posts, showed how Facebook users were reacting and what they were sharing among their friends.  Here’s a sampling of how the candidates and their supporters reacted to the debate on Facebook.

Pre-Debate Posts

Before the debate, each of the candidates posted an image to their Facebook page, along with a message to supporters. Ryan’s Facebook post simply said, “Let’s Get This Done,” along with a photo of Ryan (the same post was shared on Romney’s page.)  But it was this Ryan family photo that really got us.

The vice president posted a photo with Obama urging supporters to share the photo and tune in online at the Organizing for America page at 9 p.m. ET.


Biden’s off-the-cuff reply to one of Ryan’s early answers drew widespread comment across social media, causing “malarkey” to trend throughout the night and earning the eighth spot on Facebook’s list of top debate mentions. Here are a few of the graphical posts that got Facebook users worked up.


Taxes, a subject that draws spirited debate even when it’s not an election year, rallied Facebook  users during Thursday night’s face-off between Biden and Paul.  Here is a look at how Facebook users reacted to one of the issues raised tonight:

Post-Debate Reaction

Each of the campaigns took slightly different approaches to their Facebook posts once the debate concluded. Ryan posted a fundraising appeal within hours of the debate’s close, while Biden shared a post reiterating the Democratic ticket’s commitment to the middle class.

Readers: Did you weigh in on Facebook during the vice presidential debate?