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Debate: Charting Twitter’s response

Take a closer look at the 7.2 million tweets from during last night’s presidential debate.


Justin Franz


Things got heated Tuesday night during the presidential debate, both live on Long Island and across the nation on Twitter. The social media site hosted a consistent stream of opinion, analysis, and facts that once again showed Twitter’s power in this election.

Unlike the first debate in Colorado, where Obama appeared almost uninterested in attending, the president was lively and feisty. At times, both candidates were within feet of each other, in heated exchanges over the economy, security, and taxes.

Users on Twitter also thought that it was Barack Obama’s night, as the president came back from a disastrous debate performance two weeks ago. According to Zach Green of, there were 30 percent more tweets declaring Obama the victor than Republican Mitt Romney.

According to @Gov, Twitter’s politics account, there were 7.2 million tweets during the debate on Tuesday evening. More than last week’s vice presidential debate, but still short of the first presidential debate’s 10.3 million tweets. Twitter also broke down the number of mentions of each candidate: 35 percent talked about Romney, 25 percent Obama, 26 percent neither, and 14 percent mentioned both.


Within minutes of the final questions, each campaign took to Twitter to announce that its guy had won. Paul Ryan, Romney’s vice presidential candidate and campaign wingman tweeted that the former Massachusetts governor “crushed it.” Meanwhile, Obama’s official campaign Twitter account retweeted a handful of messages saying how well the President had done.

“Tonight Barack showed, as he has every day as president, that he’ll fight to ensure everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream. –mo,” tweeted first lady Michelle Obama.

“A clear & significant victory for the President. He held Romney accountable & was clear abt why we need to move Forward,” tweeted Ohio politician Ted Strickland.

But not everyone was so convinced, especially when it came to economic questions.

“Obama telling Mitt Romney how to do business is like me teaching Michael Phelps how to swim. #ridiculous,” wrote Mike Keahbone.

Just like two weeks ago, one of Romney’s comments took the Internet by storm. But this time, it wasn’t a big yellow bird from PBS making waves, but rather “binders full of women.” Within moments, spoof accounts went up across the Web, and according to, thousands of tweets also went out.

“Was #Romney‘s reference to binders just a ploy to get us all into @Staples? #debate,” wrote Gerald Sacca.

“If Mitt Romney knows so much about new technology, why didn’t he just get the binders filled with women sent to him in a .pdf file?,” wrote Jake Fogelnest.

Graph via @Gov/Twitter; photo via New York Times/YouTube


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