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Online Trends

Published March 4th 2016

React: Dissecting a Fiery 11th Republican Debate

Brandwatch analyzes online conversation surrounding the 11th Republican Debate

Four candidates took the debate stage on Thursday evening in what was the 11th Republican debate.

Candidates, supporters and reporters were all raring to go with the results in of Super Tuesday fresh in everyone’s minds.


No time wasted

Just hours before the debate Mitt Romney spoke out against Trump, calling him a phony and a fraud. The moderators lost no timing bringing this up, in fact it was the first question of the night.

Throughout the debate Romney was mentioned over 6,000 times on Twitter in relation to the onstage candidates.

This wasn’t the only feud on people’s minds on Thursday as Trump finally faced moderator Megyn Kelly. The property mogul boycotted the 7th debate on the grounds that Kelly was biased against him.

He didn’t shy away this time and it’s fair to say that on a few occasions the Fox News moderator did not hold back when calling Trump out on his, some say, questionable relationship with the truth.

All in all Kelly’s performance was the most discussed topic on social media during the debate, receiving just under 20,000 social mentions in total.

These mentions, when discussed in relation to the other candidates, received a 55% positive sentiment score so opinions were somewhat divided.  

The other topics that got the most amount of social time were:

  • Foreign Policy 11,440 mentions
  • Immigration 10,910
  • Healthcare 7,600
  • Taxes 6,490
  • Gun control 5,130.

Serious talk on social

Many topics were brought up during the debate but the conversation descended into chaos just as many times.

Let’s take a look at the most discussed candidate moments on social media:

The first, and biggest, talking point of the night came mere moments into the debate when Trump addressed Rubio’s previous comments about the size of his hands (and the obvious implications of that comment).

Trump received a hefty 4,800 mentions for this moment alone.

Talking point number two goes to Ted Cruz and the unknown particle that made itself at home on his lip while he spoke very seriously about his tax plan.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 08.58.31

In fact, there were over 3,000 tweets mentioning Cruz’s lip or mouth during that time.

Marco Rubio can thank Cruz’s breathing exercises and Trump’s ‘flexibility’ for his biggest spike in mentions.

Finally, moment number four goes to John Kasich for when he implored his fellow candidates to stop fighting with each other – a point he reiterated more than once during the the debate.

Looking at share of the share of voice at the close of the debate it’s clear Donald Trump once again dominated the social conversation.

His SOV the two hours before the debate was 77%, this was reduced to 49% by 23:00 EST.


Opinions matter

The nature of these mentions is important to note.

Throughout the debate John Kasich held the social favor, even though he got the least amount of airtime and mentions. Regardless the governor made some notable comments during the debate and closed with “I will be the nominee”.

Second in line, Rubio, didn’t hold back against Trump and it seemed to pay off. Many wondered which Rubio would turn up to this debate and it was definitely the feistier version.

Trump finishing at the bottom of the table could be attributed to a number of things. Although, the Fox News moderators didn’t aid him in any way, addressing topics from Trump University to wondering “what is his core”.


Tell us how you felt about the 11th Republican Primary debate.

Follow us on @BW_React for more insightful social data.


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