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Published January 15th 2016

React: Shots Were Fired in the 6th GOP Debate

Brandwatch analyzes conversation surrounding the 6th Republican debate

A fiery republican Presidential debate took place last night (14th January) in Charleston, South Carolina.

This was the 6th debate for the GOP candidates and one of their last before the looming Iowa Caucus.

It has been a big week in American politics as President Obama gave his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, something which came under heavy fire during the debate.

In fact, while the candidates disagreed on a variety of topics, they were very much aligned on their dislike of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Big moments and big mentions

As it stands, Trump and Cruz are leading the polls in Iowa so it was expected that the candidates would come out swinging to make an impression with the voters. That they did.


This tête-à-tête was reflected on social and for a short while, Ted Cruz was mentioned more than Donald Trump, possibly for the first time since the beginning of the presidential race.

The candidates held nothing back. In fact, one of the most memorable moments of the night came when Donald Trump brought Cruz’s citizenship into question.

The Canadian born senator adamantly defended his constitutional right to be President. This moment drove a finger-aching spike of 2,900 mentions.

The two biggest moments of the night were caused by Dr. Ben Carson.

The soft spoken surgeon made an impact when he questioned Obama’s understanding of modern warfare. This spike came in response to a question on national security – Carson alluded to US enemies detonating bombs in our “exo-atmosphere.” This minute saw about 3,000 mentions.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 09.31.38

Foreign affairs and taxes spark most online conversation

The topic of gun control has been on the mind of many recently, especially seeing as #guncontrol gained nearly 30k mentions last Wednesday following Obama’s remarks.

The issue accounted for a mere 11% of the overall topic roster despite being debated vehemently by the candidates on stage.

The issues that gained the most attention were foreign affairs (32%), taxes (31%) and immigration (15%).

The topic of climate change failed to get any air during the debate.

6th GOP debate

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump led the conversation on immigration and insisted that America was “the laughing stock of the world”.

This ramble was met by a punchy rebuttal from Jeb Bush when he called the property mogul “unhinged”.


Tell us how you really feel

At the close of the debate sentiment trended positive at 55%. Drilling down into this we can see that Marco Rubio resonated the best with the online audience. The biggest moment of the night for the senator came when he went head-to-head with Senator Cruz and called his ‘flip-flopping’ on policies into play. Despite this Cruz came out relatively unscathed with an impressive 63% positive sentiment score.

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Trump supporters won’t be happy with the result of this poll. The billionaire fared the worst and landed at the bottom of the pile with 50.4% positive.

The candidates will have a chance to make another impression on the 28th January, just a few days before the Iowa Caucus.

In the meantime follow @BW_React on Saturday for live insights on the Democratic debate.

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