debate blog

The first Presidential Debate of the 2016 Election is now over. While there was a clear winner on stage, the real winner was the internet and Social Media.

This debate sparked a lot of online activity. This was the first debate live-streamed by both Facebook and Twitter. Every news outlet also posted in real-time and the Google search was quite active with keyword related searches in real-time while the debate was happening on stage.

The biggest Google Search came early on in the debate when candidate Clinton said people could visit her website and fact-check the candidates in real-time. Google erupted with searches for the Hillary Clinton website. This was the largest Google search of the evening.

The remaining Google searches of the evening were all related to fact-checking.

Over on the Social Sites, Trump dominated Facebook with 70% of the conversation on the network about him. The most popular moment of the debate on Facebook was when he stated that his strongest asset was his temperament.

On Twitter he had 62% of the focus of the evening, with the temperament comment getting the most activity on this network as well.

The most tweeted topics of the evening included:

  • The Economy
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Energy and Environment
  • Terrorism
  • Guns

The top 3 Twitter moments under the hashtag, #debates, were

  1. Trump stating he has a “good temperament”
  2. Trump commenting on stop and frisk
  3. The discussion by both candidates on the plan for defeating ISIS

Moderator Lester Holt was not immune to the Social reaction, there were over 400,000 tweets that mentioned him.

Social Media has Changed the Game

In the good-old-days of campaigning the surrogates would work the “spin room” after the debate, discussing their candidate and the debate issues to work more on the impression of the American voters. However, with Social Media this “room” is no online and it is happening in real-time.

With 91% of Millennials using Social Media and 78% of online adults using Social Media, this is now a relevant venue to reach voters.

In 1992 Bill Clinton shocked most older voters by appearing on MTV and appealing directly to the younger voters, age 18 to 24. This group typically did not vote in great numbers. However, with President Clinton appearing on MTV and other venues, reaching out to this group paid off. The turn-out for younger voters in the 1992 election increased from 36.2% in 1988 to 42.8% in 1992.

Social Media is 2016’s equivalent to MTV, but the sites don’t just reach 18 to 24 year olds, they reach most voters of all ages.

No matter the outcome and role Social Media plays in this election, the bottom line is Social Media matters, it was active throughout the evening and has been throughout this entire election cycle.

There is a forum for anyone to voice their opinions on the election, the candidates and surrogates can reach out to their base at any time of the day and the world can see what is happening in real-time.

Additionally, candidates need to take care when making statements, because Google search never sleeps and most can access it right from their hand no matter where they are at the moment.

#FactCheck is a big deal, whether the candidate thinks it matters or not, it really does. With over 125,000 tweets using the hashtag (in reference to Trump) and the surge in Google searches related to fact-checking specific statements, candidates need to know they can’t just wing it.

The 2016 Presidential Election will definitely be one for the books, for many reasons at this point, but definitely for the online, real-time activity the campaigns display and the role of Social Media in the outcome.