The three remaining Democratic presidential candidates met for the third and final time this year in New Hampshire on Dec. 19 in a wide-ranging debate covering international affairs and domestic policy. Like the previous Democratic matchup, which occurred the day after the deadly attacks in Paris, the first portion focused on ISIS and terrorism, with a handful of questions pivoting off the recent shootings in San Bernardino, Calif.
According to InsideGov tallies, during Saturday’s debate, 41 percent of the questions asked by ABC News moderators dealt with terrorism and ISIS. When the Democrats met in November for their second debate, 34 percent of questions discussed similar topics.
As the visualization shows, moderators devoted a few moments to the recent Democratic National Committee data breach, when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ team accessed voter information from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign files. He apologized to his supporters and Clinton, and asked her to join him in an independent investigation of the breach.
Sanders said he fired his national data director on Friday and would terminate any other campaign staffers who were involved. On Sunday, the day after the debate, his campaign announced two other staffers had been suspended.
Although questions about firearm reforms comprised only 9 percent of the debate, it featured some of the testier moments of the evening. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley came out swinging on Saturday, elbowing his way into that conversation and interrupting the moderators, despite their attempts to switch topics.
O’Malley, who continues to flounder in the polls, swatted at both Sanders and Clinton on their respective records while touting his own in Maryland. But O’Malley’s calls for stronger gun control likely won’t play well in New Hampshire, site of the first presidential primary and a state with few regulations on the books. Indeed, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives the Granite State a “D” grade when it comes to gun laws.
Despite his fired-up showing on Saturday, O’Malley still logged the least amount of talk time among the three candidates. He spoke for a little over 26 minutes, whereas Clinton talked the most, for almost 41 minutes.
As the visualization shows, that trend has followed the candidates throughout their three debates. Even during the first debate — which included former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who have both since dropped out of the race — Clinton spoke significantly more than O’Malley.
In total, Clinton has talked for a little more than one hour and 50 minutes during the three debates, whereas O’Malley has talked for about one hour and six minutes. Although that count puts O’Malley at the bottom of the heap among Democrats, it’s the same amount of total time Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has talked during all five of the GOP debates.
When it comes to social media metrics, Twitter lit up when Clinton signed off for the evening with a “Star Wars” reference. “Thank you, good night and may the Force be with you,” she said at the end of her closing statement.
While Clinton’s savvy pop culture shout-out generated plenty of online chatter, it didn’t translate into more social media love. Sanders won the Twitter battle Saturday night, collecting the most new followers of the three candidates. That’s a shift from the second debate, when Clinton gained the most new followers.
But the visualization illustrates that overall follower growth in the third debate was significantly lower than growth during the second debate. Both debates occurred on a Saturday — which likely accounts for worse overall viewership — but the third one happened the final Saturday before Christmas, prime time for last-minute shopping and holiday parties.
The tendency of fewer people tuning into the Democratic debates promises to continue into 2016. The Dems next meet up on Jan. 17, the Sunday evening of the long weekend celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day.