Twitter at the Town Hall Debate

As the presidential candidates met at Hofstra University tonight to answer questions from a group of self-declared undecided voters, viewers around the country came to Twitter to participate in the debate exchanges and offer their own commentary. Throughout tonight’s 90-minute #debate, 7.2 million Tweets were sent.

The specific moments that generated the highest amounts of conversation were:

  • Audience question to Romney on immigration (109,560 TPM)
  • Obama to Romney: “You’re the last person to get tough on China” (108,619 TPM)
  • Romney’s response to tax rates question (107,386 TPM)

We also analyzed the volume of conversation around some of the campaign’s biggest issues. With 28% of Tweets sent, the economy was the most-discussed topic this evening. The subject of taxes racked up 17% of Tweets; 16% focused on foreign policy, 13% on energy and the environment, and 8% on immigration.

We saw several surprising trends and buzzwords emerge too. The terms “binder” and “pension” rose to Twitter infamy tonight, and we suspect “Jeremy” (a young questioner, soon to graduate from college) will be popular in class tomorrow. As we’ve come to expect, such trending topics inspire parody accounts almost instantly:

As we’ve seen in the previous two debates, the performance of the moderator was another popular topic. CNN’s Candy Crowley (@CrowleyCNN) generated her share of commentary:

The debate ended with emotional (albeit slightly biased!) responses from the people closest to the candidates: their families.

In just six days, we’ll be in Boca Raton for the final debate of this campaign. See you then.

Posted by Adam Sharp (@AdamS)
Head of Government, News, & Social Innovation