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Published April 15th 2016

React: The Gloves Came Off in the 9th #DemDebate

Brandwatch analyzes Twitter's reactions to the candidates and big moments in the 9th Demdebate

The Democratic candidates graced the debate stage for the ninth time last night.

The stakes for both candidates have seldom been higher with the NY primary a mere four days away.

The pressure is on for Tuesday; Clinton was New York senator for eight years while Sanders is hoping to narrow the lead by nabbing some of the 291 delegates that are up for grabs.

New York State of Mind

The location of the debate was a contentious topic. Hillary was met with echoing cheers as she exclaimed “it’s good to be home”, and then the gloves came off.

The CNN moderators wasted no time in poking the fire and the first question addressed Sanders’ comment about Clinton being “unqualified” for the role of President.

Sanders edited his initial statement and questioned whether or not the former Secretary of State had the judgment to govern America.

Looking at the data, Clinton came out well on top from this heated exchange, note Sanders’ large spike in negative mentions around that time.


This gave Clinton the lead in share of voice from the get go, one that Sanders would not reclaim.

This also set the tone for the remainder of the debate, a tone that had taken a definite shift from the previous eight debates. The two were no longer Democrats battling the Republicans together but competitors with one goal in mind.

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Clinton was responsible for the the biggest spikes in mentions during the debate, some good, some bad, some ugly, and unlike other debates she maintained the lead in mention volume (190k in total) throughout.

Sanders commanded 55% of the conversation in the last debate, but this dropped to 48% (170k mentions) this time around.

This is compounded by the fact that mentions for his campaign hashtag, #FeelTheBern, which is rarely challenged by #ImWithHer, was overtaken from the get go.


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But just because more people were tweeting about the former Secretary of State does not mean she had more support from social media. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Clinton finished almost 10 percentage points behind Sanders by the close of the debate despite her sentiment at the beginning of the debate standing at 59% positive.

The Bernie chant at the close of the debate certainly didn’t help matters either.

What role did the political issues play?

A number of topics got airtime during Thursday’s debate but some got more online attention than others.

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The first to take the floor was the question, once again, of Hillary’s speeches and political contributions although this was fleeting and quickly evolved into an exchange surrounding transparency on taxes.

Sanders promised to release his, blaming the demands of the campaign trail for his tardiness. 35 minutes in, taxes accounted for 61% of the political issues conversation.

Possibly the most heated debate of the night was on climate change and the differing stances the two held.

All in all, the topic received over 8.8k mentions on Twitter. Hillary’s comments on fracking policies drove the biggest spike in mentions the night – 2,600 in one minute.

A debate in New York could not have passed without foreign policy coming into play. Many will say Sanders fell down on this issue especially because of his comments on Israel. The worthy topic drove just under 6,000 tweets.

We’ll have to wait until Tuesday to see if the events of last night hold any bearing in the New York Primary.

In the meantime follow @BW_React for more digestible data.

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