Twitter often acts as a sort of portable comments section for live television events — for good and bad. Something happens, people weigh in.
That's context for this tweet, from Twitter's elections team.
Hey, look at that! People were talking about Marco Rubio more than Donald Trump, for the first time over the course of these debates. Rubio, who surged in polling after his strong finish in Iowa. Good news, right?
No. The thing about comments sections is that just because you're being talked about, does not mean that you are being praised.
Rubio's exchange with Chris Christie, in which the New Jersey governor hammered him on reverting to the same talking points over and over — hammered him — prompted a lot of cringes online. Perhaps those tweets mentioned by Twitter were all positive! Perhaps ... not.
Rubio also "beat" Trump on Google. The biggest spikes in searches for Rubio came when he was first talking about his experience (the comments that kicked off the Christie beat-down) and, later, when he was talking about immigration. (Cruz, who usually spurs a lot of Google interest, was searched as he talked about the same topic.)
Maybe people were searching Google instead of watching Christie make fun of Rubio! And, again, perhaps not.
The problem with these social media metrics, of course, is that they're vague. They aren't polling, and they don't necessarily correlate to anything useful. (Any more than do comments sections.) But if the question being asked was, "Did people pay attention to the Christie-Rubio exchange?" the best evidence we have is: Yes.