As the Presidential race heats up in the United States, public debates between candidates will be seen far more often. The Republicans have had three public debates since the beginning of August. This Tuesday though, the Democrats finally took to the stage for the first of their public debates.
While not as large as the Republican debates, which have so far had around 10 candidates on stage each time, this Democrat debate only featured five candidates for the party. Some speculated that there may have been a sixth, Joe Biden, but the current Vice President has not yet officially said whether he will be running in 2016.
After the first Republican debate we did an analysis on this blog of what each candidate looked like in social channels both before and after the debate. We thought it would only be fair if we put the Republican candidates through the same treatment.
Taking to Sysomos MAP, our social intelligence engine, we looked up each candidates name and Twitter handle to see how much they were being mentioned and what the social media sentiment was around them both before and after the debates. For the before, we looked at the mentions of the five candidates for three days, Saturday October 10 through 12th. Then we compared those findings to how the candidates looked during debate day and for two days after, October 13 though 15th.
Here’s what we found:
While all of the candidates were seeing some kind of social media activity before the debate, most activity was minimal. The only two candidates that we found with significant amounts of social mentions prior to the debate were Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, who each had more than 100,000 mentions a piece in the three days leading up to the debate. However, the debate certainly got people talking about each of the candidates.
The Republican debate and the days that followed saw mentions of all five of the candidates more than quadruple across social media. Jim Webb had 3,799 mentions in social media in the three days leading up to the debate. But Tuesday through Thursday saw the number of mentions of Webb jump to 258,627. At the same, Hillary Clinton was seeing the most social media talk in the three days before the debate, with 268,233 mention, which then rose to over 1.2 million mentions over debate day and the following two days.
Bernie Sanders, who seems to be the millennial candidate of choice, had the largest growth in mentions going from 176,525 mentions in the three days leading up to the debate to over 1.4 million mentions during and after the debate.
But mentions alone don’t mean all that much. What matters is what people were actually saying about each of these candidates. That’s why we also compared the sentiment around each candidate before and after the debate.
Three of the five Democratic candidates saw an increase in the amount of negative conversations around them after the debate; Clinton went from 16% negative mentions to 22%, Webb from 24% to 28% negative mentions, and O’Malley from 18% to 27% negative mentions. Only Sanders and Chafee saw their percentage of negative mentions drop. Sanders went from 11% to 9%, while Chafee dropped from 54% to 53%.
Looking at how the percentage of positive mentions of the candidates changed also showed some interesting results. Only two Democratic candidates saw their positive mention percentages rise. Chafee went from 0% positive mentions up to 1%. At the same time, Clinton, who saw the second largest increase in negative mentions, was also the candidate to see the largest increase in positive mentions as she went from 25% before the debate to 27% during and after.
The rest of the candidates all saw their percentage of positive mentions drop, despite large increases in overall mentions. O’Malley dropped from 22% of his mentions being positive to 16%. Webb fell from 20% positive mentions to 14%. And Sanders saw the largest drop going from 34% of mentions of him being positive down to 26%.
Tuesday’s #DemDebate definitely got the public talking about each of the Democratic candidates more than before. But with such wild swings coming in terms of mentions and sentiment changes from each of the candidates it’s hard to say who the public thinks won the debate.
We’re curious to hear your thoughts. Who do you think won? And is your answer based on social data or your personal thoughts from watching the debate? Let us know in the comments below.