Texas Sen. Ted Cruz dominated the social media conversation during the Republican debate on CNBC last night, largely for using the media as a punching bag.

The third GOP debate lacked some of the fire of the previous two contests and had a new target for criticism: the media. Our analytics partners at Zignal Labs tracked more than 650,000 mentions of the GOP field during the two-hour debate – way down from the chatter in the previous debates.

But Cruz scored the night’s biggest moment with his criticism of the media’s questions. Here’s a look at the Cruz spike:


In that one moment, Cruz captured a majority of the social and traditional media mentions of any candidate throughout the two-hour debate. In all, Cruz commanded 20 percent of the overall candidate chatter followed by Trump at 15 percent, Carson with 13 percent and Rubio with 12 percent.

Jeb Bush commanded just 8 percent of the media chatter during the debate, while Carly Fiorina, who turned in two previous strong debate performances, drew just 7.5 percent of the mentions — the same share as Christie.


And as an added bonus, here’s a look at the top emojis used in tweets with the five most-frequently-mentioned GOP candidates Wednesday night:

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