The Saturday night Democratic debate in Iowa lacked the heat or the edge of the prime time GOP confabs. In all, our analytics partners at Zignal Labs tracked about 370,000 mentions of the three candidates during the two-hour event at Drake University, broadcast on CBS. That’s a far cry from the previous debates, even though the candidate podiums had their Twitter handles.
But in a testament to the passion and engagement of his supporters, Bernie Sanders led the way with more than 202,000 mentions on Twitter, followed by Hillary Rodham Clinton with around 152,000. Martin O'Malley was a distant third.
It was the same order on Facebook.
O’Malley saw his mentions spike when he called Donald Trump an "immigrant-bashing carnival barker,” earning a Twitter response from The Donald himself:
But the debate revealed the deficiency of O'Malley's social media network, especially compared with his two Democratic challengers. Sanders and Clinton were able to drive their own message on social media through their official Twitter accounts. (Bill Clinton also received hundreds of retweets throughout). But look at the top O'Malley-related Tweets by retweet count; none are from his team.
Here were the top issues for each of the candidates during the debate:
And here are the top hashtags used in mentions of each candidate during the debate:
According to Facebook, Sanders was also the most mentioned candidate on their platform. And his exchange with Clinton over Wall Street -- and her response invoking the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- was the buzziest moment of the night on the social networking platform.
The top issues discussed during the debate on Facebook were: 1) Terrorism and the Islamic State; 2) Climate change; 3) Wall Street; 4) Iraq; and 5) Minimum wage.
As a testament to Sanders’ dominance online, Facebook reported that the most engaged state per capita during the debate was Vermont, which Sanders represents in the Senate. Iowa, the site of the debate, was actually third, behind New Hampshire. Oregon and West Virginia were fourth and fifth.