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Published February 26th 2016

React: Rubio Came Out Swinging in the 10th GOP Debate

Brandwatch analyzes online conversation surrounding the 10th GOP Debate ahead of Super Tuesday

The Republican debates hit the double figure mark on Thursday evening as the GOP candidates met on stage for the tenth time.

Despite there being more debates than months since last August, they have not lost any momentum. In fact, the smaller pool has resulted in more heated and passionate exchanges between the on-stage politicians.

Thursday night was an excellent display of this as the candidates went in with guns blazing. Together they accumulated 79,000 social mentions while the hashtag #GOPDebate was used over 94,000 times on Twitter.

Many articles leading to the debate pointed out the need for Cruz and Rubio to “go after” Trump. Following his win in Nevada the pressure was on for the senators to establish a strong foothold ahead of Super Tuesday.

Rubio came out swinging

Marco Rubio held nothing back last night when it came to taking on Trump. The senator challenged Trump on everything from his business ethics to financial history.

The biggest moment of the night for Rubio came when he challenged Trump on his repetition of ‘Make America Great Again’ and other commonly used Trump messages. This moment earned the Senator 3,250 mentions in one minute.

Rubio seemed to knock Trump down a few pegs and the closing social sentiment poll proved that it was a good night all round for Marco Rubio as he finished in first place according to Twitter.

Celebration was in the air.

The rest of the pack

While John Kasich came in second in the poll, the governor failed to make much of an impact on the social audience seeing as he registered a mere 40,000 mentions on Twitter. This was over 60,000 less than the next candidate in line, Ben Carson.

Speaking of Carson, the neurosurgeon can boast the biggest spike in mentions of the night by far.

This moment came following a very heated exchange between Trump, Rubio and Cruz at which point Carson remarked “Can somebody attack me please?”. To say this sent Twitter wild is an understatement. That comment alone garnered over 5,700 tweets in one minute (including RTs).

The Trump POV

Trump maintained good composure throughout the various attacks that were thrown his way, although he wasn’t without his moments on Thursday night. The biggest came when he addressed the comments made by the former President of Mexico, citing “the wall just got 10 feet higher”, earning him 3,800 mentions in the space of 60 seconds.

Keeping with tradition, Trump drove the most online mentions of the night with 314,120 in total. Bearing in mind the fact that he came fourth (50%) in the sentiment poll it could be assumed that his huge mention volume was partly due to various attacks directed at him during the debate.

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Trump’s performance in the debates has not really affected his position in the polls in the past, so it will be interesting to see if this holds any bearing.

The issues on everyone’s mind

Immigration, healthcare and foreign policy were the main issues that dominated the debate stage on Thursday night. The debate on healthcare was one of the most heated of the night and drove almost 29,000 mentions by the end. Ben Carson’s comment “healthcare is not a right” was the most tweeted about remark during the debate.

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 17.02.48

This was the last debate before Super Tuesday so over the next few days attention will be firmly focused on the lead up and outcome of those crucial primaries.

In the meantime, follow @BW_React for bite-sized, insightful data.

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