Social TV results from the third presidential debate

By Natan Edelsburg 

The third debate concluded on Monday evening providing another serving of massive social TV data. Twitter, Bluefin Labs, SnappyTV and more were all reporting on the results and what we can learn from the social web. The interesting analysis will probably come after the election takes place, but for now here are the highlights from the third debate on foreign policy.


Twitter continues to ramp up it’s election coverage. In time for the debate they launched a new visualization at Topsy provided the analytics. They cited 6.5 millon tweets about the debates. The peak happened during Obama’s “we also have fewer horses and bayonets” comment. Here’s further analysis from Twitter.

Top Tweets Per Minute (TPM) moments:

  • 105,767 TPM – 9:45pm EDT – Obama: “We also have fewer horses and bayonets”
  • 102,339 TPM – 10:31pm EDT – Schieffer: “I think we all love teachers”
  • 87,040 TPM – 9:58pm EDT – Romney on Obama’s “apology tour”
  • 85,152 TPM – 9:40pm EDT – Bob Schieffer steers conversation back to foreign policy
  • 78,069 TPM – 10:29pm EDT – Romney on auto industry
  • 76,720 TPM – 9:15pm EDT – Obama on Assad/Syria
  • 74,856 TPM – 9:34pm EDT – Small business discussion
  • 70,639 TPM – 9:12pm EDT – Obama: “You said Russia was #1 foreign threat to national security”
Post-debate Twitter Political Index:
Barack Obama
Average since 5/1: 33
Twindex Pre-Debate: 42
Twindex Post-Debate: 38
Mitt Romney
Average since 5/1: 28
Twindex Pre-Debate: 26
Twindex Post-Debate: 39
Percentage of debate conversation about the Presidential Candidates:
  • Neither Campaign – 34%
  • Romney Campaign – 33%
  • Obama Campaign – 20%
  • Both Campaigns – 13%
Percentage of debate conversation by topic:
  • Foreign Policy – 54%
  • The Economy – 20%
  • Terrorism – 9%
  • Taxes – 7%
  • Energy & the Environment – 4%
Bluefin Labs: Here’s Bluefin’s analysis and infographic.

Debate #3 did not reach social levels of Debates #1 and #2

  • Presidential Debate #3 generated 8.0M social media comments across Twitter and Facebook profiles that are marked as public. Twitter accounted for 7.8M of the total and public Facebook accounted for 152K.

But still a major event in social TV

  • At 8.0M social media comments, Presidential Debate #3 still breaks into the Top 10 Social TV Events of All Time, across all programming genres.
  • Specifically, it ranks #7 all time. It’s ahead of the 2012 NBA Finals Game 5, the clinching game when LeBron James won his first NBA title (6.3M comments) and just behind The BET Awards 2012 (8.1M comments).
 Debate #3 faced stiffer competition in social TV on its night of airing
  • All three presidential debates commanded a dominating “share of commentary” during their respective nights of airing, but debate #3 faced the stiffest competition: it aired on the same night as Game 7 of the MLB NLCS as well as NFL Monday Night Football. Nevertheless,debate #3 accounted for 79% of all social TV commentary in prime time for Oct 22.
  • The first two debates were even more dominating: Debate #1 accounted for 93% of all social TV commentary on its night of airing (Oct 3).Debate #2 accounted for 93% of all social TV commentary on its night of airing as well (Oct 16).
 More social commentary about Mitt Romney in all three debates
  • In all three debates, social media comments mentioning Mitt Romney outpaced comments mentioning Barack Obama by significant margins. In debate #1, there was a 12-point gap (54% Romney, 42% Obama). In debate #2, there was an 11-point gap (51% Romney, 40% Obama). And in this final debate #3, there was a 10-point gap (48% Romney, 38% Obama).

The moderator receded into the background in this debate

  • The moderator in this debate, Bob Schieffer, generated less social commentary than Jim Lehrer and Candy Crowley, the moderators of debates #1 and #2, respectively. In this debate, 2.8% of social commentary mentioned the moderator. In debate #1, 5.5% of social commentary mentioned the moderator Jim Lehrer. In debate #2, 4.8% of social commentary mentioned the moderator Candy Crowley.
Israel, China, Iraq, Iran and Libya were hot topics as visualized  via SnappyTV’s infographic.