#GOPDebate: Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina (And Even Bernie Sanders) Social Stars in Fox News’ Debate

Thursday night's Republican Presidential candidate debate on Fox News was hosted by Facebook, but was buzzed about all over social media.

Thursday night’s Republican Presidential candidate debate on Fox News was hosted by Facebook, but was buzzed about all over social media.
According to Facebook, 7.5 million users generated more than 20 million interactions (posts, likes, comments, shares) about the debate.
ListenFirst Media measured more than 2 million tweets with the #GOPDebate hashtag Thursday night, driving more than 6.72 billion impressions, with the peak coming at the end of the debate (10:56 PM ET). According to Brandwatch, 60 percent of #GOPDebate tweeters were men, 40 percent female.
Candidates also responded directly to questions from Facebook during the debate, as part of what the social network called “a month-long call to action” that led to more than 5 million views and more than 40,000 responses.
Fox News correspondent Shannon Bream incorporated data from Facebook into her coverage throughout the network’s Thursday programming, using a specially designed touch-screen monitor to illustrate the volume and demographic breakdown of political conversation on the social network throughout the U.S.
The top five issues discussed on Facebook during the debate were:

  1. Immigration
  2. Racial issues
  3. The economy
  4. Education
  5. Abortion

The five candidates discussed the most on Facebook during the debate were:

  1. Donald Trump
  2. Ben Carson
  3. Rand Paul
  4. Mike Huckabee
  5. Chris Christie

According to ListenFirst Media, immigration was the top debate topic on Twitter, measuring tweets with the #GOPDebate hashtag. Here’s the top five:

  1. Immigration (26,000 tweets)
  2. Military (24,800)
  3. Abortion (21,300)
  4. ISIS (16,300)
  5. Marriage (13,500)

Other popular topics on Twitter: Fox News host Megyn Kelly (15,700 tweets), Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton (15,300) and 40th U.S. President Ronald Reagan (6,700).
Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders‘ #DebateWithBernie hashtag generated more than 67,400 mentions Thursday night.
According to Synthesio‘s data, immigration and Planned Parenthood were the most talked about topics on social during the debate. Synthesio also broke down sentiment around these topics, with green bars meaning positive sentiment and red bars indicating negative sentiment.
Debate Topics Sentiment
Trump, the most-discussed presidential hopeful on Twitter going into the debate, was the most-mentioned candidate on both Facebook and Twitter.

Synthesio data shows that Trump did indeed take the biggest share of voice on social on Thursday among main stage candidates. Candidates SOV However, Trump didn’t capture the most-talked-about moment on Twitter. That honor went to Christie and Paul:

Facebook statistics pointed to this exchange being the most talked about moment on the social network, as well.
Interestingly, one of the biggest social stars on Thursday night wasn’t on the main debate stage. ListenFirst Media noted that Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who was part of the early debate, garnered more than 195,000 engagements — a 600 percent increase compared to the previous day. This was also more engagement than more well-known candidates Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio.
Jason Klein, co-CEO and co-founder of ListenFirst Media, analyzed Fiorina’s social buzz:

While everyone expected Donald Trump would garner the most attention on digital and social, quietly, Carly Fiorina not only outperformed half of the main stage GOP candidates, she also had the greatest day over day lift amongst all candidates. It will be interesting to watch how she leverages this momentum to improve her awareness among voters and raise her profile in the crowded field.

ListenFirst Media’s data also showed that Ben Carson generated more than 408,000 digital and social engagements on Thursday, showing that there’s plenty of discussion and curiosity around two of the candidates (Fiorina and Carson) with no political background.