The Internet reacts to last night’s presidential debates in tweets, GIFs, and hashtags

debate internet reaction Thanks to the Internet, we’ve got an immediate look at how the world felt about last night’s presidential debates. Here is all the Twitter-sourced, cable-fed, and meme-infused reactions to the event. 

Twitter sentiment measurement

Social analytics company DataSift reads Web trends by exploring conversations happening on Twitter, blogs, forums, in the news, and other “leading social networks.” For last night’s debates, DataSift focused on Twitter’s reaction with a minute-to-minute Web graphic displaying positive and negative feelings about President Barack Obama and candidate Mitt Romney. At the moment, both Obama and Romney are trading when it comes to positive Twitter posts, with Obama maybe edging ahead. That said, the negativity around Obama appears to be far higher than around his opponent’s.

datasift positives
datasift negatives

DataSift also looked what issues were being most talked about on Twitter, and as you might imagine, the economy and taxes have managed to steer most Twitter talk.

datasift issuesTV’s take on the candidate

Second screen startup Boxfish has been measuring how the airwaves are interpreting the debates, looking at not only how much cable channels are talking about Obama and Romney, but how they’re talking about them. According to Boxfish’s analysis, Obama was only getting cable love from MSNBC, and getting nothing but negativity elsewhere — although positive sentiment for the president spiked nearly immediately after the debates. As can be expected, Romney received nothing but high praise from Fox. Romney’s also the subject of more TV talk in general (especially over the last month), with the exception again of MSNBC — although that’s not always necessarily a good thing. 

boxfish sentimentCheck out Boxfish’s infographic after the break to see more TV-sourced stats. 

Memes, GIFs, hashtags

Moving on the what really matters: The seemingly random moments that we users are clinging to in the wake of last night’s debates. And of course, we’ve got to start with #Bindersfullofwomen. In case you missed this gaffe, Romney was talking about hiring efforts and sex equality and mentioned the “binders full of women” he was shown in his executive leadership days (followed by some talk about how he was understanding of one female hire who needed to be home early “to make dinner”) — and thus, this week’s Big Bird was born. 

big bird debates

The meme has already taken off, turning into a trending hashtag last night, inspiring a Tumblr blog, Twitter account, and Facebook Page.
While we’re on the subject of Tumblr, the GifWich Tumblr-hosted blog live-GIFed last night’s debates, picking out a handful of gems capturing the magic.

Twitter by the numbers

As can be expected, the debates took over Twitter. The platform says the 90 minute event spawned 7.2 million tweets. According to Twitter, there were a few specific instances that engaged the microblogging audience: 

  • When an audience member asked a question to Romney about immigration – 109,560 tweets per minute (TPM)
  • When Obama said “You’re the last person to get tough on China” to Romney – 108,619 TPM
  • When Romney responded to tax rates questions – 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,” Twitter says. “The subject of taxes racked up 17% of Tweets; 16% focused on foreign policy, 13% on energy and the environment, and 8% on immigration.”

twitter debate numbersAnd for reasons previously explained, the word “binder” did well, as did “pension.”


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