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Online Trends

Published February 12th 2016

React: Social’s Mixed Reaction to the 6th Democratic Debate

Brandwatch analyzes social's reaction to the 6th Democratic Debate

Round two of the Democratic head to head between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton took place on Thursday night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Sanders and Clinton received 164k and 146k mentions respectively on the night, while the hashtag, #DemDebate, raked up a considerable 440k mentions on Twitter.

Following Bernie Sanders’ landslide win over Clinton in the New Hampshire Primary earlier this week, many expected the two candidates to come on stage with all guns blazing.


Hot topics

Once the debate got started the conversation quickly turned to healthcare, a topic which has been discussed vehemently by the two presidential candidates in the past.

Sanders stood by his premise of free healthcare for all while Clinton advocated for transparency policies for the sake of the American public.

All in all, the topic was the second most discussed political issue on social and received approximately 10,000 mentions on Twitter, 3,000 more than last time round.

Interestingly, political contributions were the third most discussed topic on Twitter throughout the night. It accounted for over 5,000 mentions, roughly 900 more than than the topic received in the last week’s debate.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 09.46.14

Once the on-stage conversation turned to foreign policy Twitter did not hesitate in pitching in.

The issue has always been strong point for Secretary Clinton, yet it was Sanders that drove drove the most online mentions during this period when Clinton’s ties with Henry Kissinger came into play.

Sanders’ remark, “Count me as somebody who will not be listening to Henry Kissinger” earned him a spike of 2,360 mentions, the second largest of the night.

By the end of the debate, foreign affairs had amassed over 15,000 tweets in relation to the candidates.


Ladies have their say

The history books will remember this debate, maybe not for the candidates’ performance, but for being the first on-stage female majority during a presidential debate. 

It is interesting to note that during the last debate Bernie Sanders held the majority of female tweeters and also received 55% of the female vote during the NH primary.

This, however, wasn’t true on Thursday night as Clinton, by a marginal majority, but majority none the same, received more mentions from female tweeters.


Social is not impressed

The online audience did not seem overly impressed with what the presidential hopefuls had to say, seeing as at one point during the debate Clinton was trending negatively (37% positive) in terms of social sentiment while Sanders hovered around 50/50 score.

Towards the end of the debate both candidates seemed to regain some ground.

One of the punchier moments of the night came when Clinton attacked Sanders on his criticisms of President Obama. Sanders’ response drove a spike of over 2,000 mentions in one minute.

Once the deliberations had ended the social sentiment for both candidates had improved, albeit not by much. Sanders finished on 55% positive with Clinton coming in second with 42%.


Don’t miss any of the election action, check our live data visualization for information on the candidates’ sentiment scores, debate summaries, insights on popular online topics and progression of the Republican and Democratic conversation over time.


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