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What Google can tell us about the first debate — in 4 charts

We've awoken to a brand new presidential race today -- at least, if you believe some of the punditry coming out of Wednesday's debate.

But just what, exactly, has changed? And what are people interested in from last night?

Below, we look at four graphics -- courtesy of our friends at Google -- that tell us a little something about Wednesday.

First, a look at the straight "who won?" question. Just like the CNN and CBS polls we cited in Morning Fix, a Google consumer survey shows Romney won:

Next, a look at how much search buzz there was around each candidate during the debate. As you can see, people were looking for more info on Romney throughout, but his numbers spiked when he offered sympathy for struggling Americans.

For Obama, his numbers were highest when he focused on bipartisanship:

This next graphic shows the top four search terms related to each candidate. For Romney, people wanted to know more about his basic personal details (his bio, his age), along with the $5 trillion tax cut Obama accused him of proposing. That suggests Obama got at least one key hit on Romney that could matter in the days ahead.

For Obama, the top search term was "Obamacare," which probably isn't good for him either.

And the search terms show how small, light-hearted moments can be big moments to viewers. Obama wishing his wife a happy 20th anniversary got searches for "Michelle" trending, while Romney's statement that he liked Big Bird but still wanted to cut funding for public broadcasting was among the lasting impressions for viewers.

And finally, Big Bird was among the four search terms that rose the most during the debate. Leading that list, though, were two decidedly wonkier subjects: the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction commission and  the Dodd-Frank bill reforming Wall Street.

The fact that there was such interest in these terms suggest we might be hearing a lot more about them in the coming weeks.


Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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