Donald Trump still rules. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) are treading water. Gov. John Kasich (Ohio) and Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) are much improved. And former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina trails the pack.
So judged Twitter after Tuesday evening’s Republican presidential primary debate in Milwaukee. As it has after previous presidential primary debates, Twitter sliced and diced its big data on eight of the GOP candidates — and Democratic rivals who weren’t even on stage — in an attempt to determine who won and who lost the online conversation.
First: Here were Twitter’s “most mentioned candidates on Twitter, with share of debate conversation”:
- Businessman Donald Trump: 24 percent (compared with 22 percent after last month’s debate in Boulder, Colo.)
- Former Florida governor Jeb Bush: 12 percent (compared with 11 percent last month)
- Retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson: 12 percent (compared with 12 percent last month)
- Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.): 12 percent (compared with 14 percent last month)
- Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.): 11 percent (compared with 12 percent last month)
- Gov. John Kasich (Ohio): 10 percent (compared with 5 percent last month)
- Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.): 10 percent (compared with 4 percent last month)
- Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina: 9 percent (compared with 7 percent last month)
Twitter also rated the “top moments” on Twitter:
- Trump interrupts Kasich, saying: “You should let Jeb speak.”
- Rubio, Paul and Cruz argue over the tax code and military spending.
- Cruz: “I don’t think we should be pushing any grannies off cliffs.”
Then came a crucial number for any candidate trying to build a presence on social media: “increase in Twitter follower growth,” as Twitter put it. The service did not provide raw numbers, but just rankings of the candidates — and one of the victors was Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
- Ben Carson
- Marco Rubio
- Donald Trump
- Bernie Sanders
- Ted Cruz
But what tweets from candidates got the most traction? Unless they were bold enough to tweet from behind their podiums, the Republicans in the debate had to sit this category out — though presumably Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.), who some thought triumphed in the undercard debate, and others at the kids’ table could have got in on this contest. Thus, the field was largely left to Sanders and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Sanders triumphed in the “top retweeted debate tweets from candidates” contest with this barb about Trump’s personal contributions to Social Security:
Sanders also took second place with this pointed question about the GOP’s stance on veterans:
But Clinton was there in third place with a comment about an issue arguably downplayed onstage in Milwaukee — women’s health:
And she took fourth with this tweet about income inequality:
In the category “top retweeted debate tweets overall,” Sanders’s tweets about veterans and Social Security took the top two spots. But a tweet from “The Daily Show” took the bronze:
And comedian Bill Maher — never one to be outdone — took fourth with this tweet: “Gotta give it to Trump, he doesn’t pander: ‘Minimum wage? F— you, get rich or die, next question.'”