When Twitter's data team sent around a look at which Democrat was being discussed more on the social network in the middle of the debate (Hillary Clinton, 50 percent; Bernie Sanders, 50%), I replied with a question: Was the overall volume of Twitter traffic down? After all, this rather staid, somewhat anonymous debate didn't really seem to be setting the world on fire, any more than the Democratic candidates themselves seem to be. The response? Yup. Less interest on Twitter than any debate to date.
We'll find out Friday what the ratings looked like, but it's hard to believe they were substantial. The debate competed with a Donald Trump rally at which Trump scribbled his autograph directly on a small child, so it's clear that alternative entertainment was available.
That said, looking at Google searches for the candidates, people at least were watching enough to be more concerned about learning more about Clinton and Sanders than Trump.
The two agreed on lots of things, but they sharply disagreed on issues of foreign policy -- especially Clinton's past embrace of former secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
Kissinger's role in the Nixon administration made him persona non grata for a generation of American liberals -- Sanders clearly being one of them. I was curious the extent to which that resonated with the audience, particularly Sanders's base of younger voters. And I can answer that question to some extent: There was an awful lot of interest in learning more about the former secretary of state.
The night's big winner? The architect of the bombing of Cambodia! Congrats to all of our contestants.
Well, that's not entirely true. The closing statements from each candidate were the most-tweeted of the night, per Twitter. Sanders's closing -- "One of us ran against Barack Obama; I was not that candidate" -- was the "top social moment" on Facebook. I don't know what that means, but the top state talking about the debate was Vermont, so that suggests that the people talking about this on Facebook may have had a horse in the race.
At the end of the debate, Twitter sent around another set of data. Who won the critical share-of-conversation battle? No one.
Final #DemDebate share of Twitter conversation:
— Twitter Government (@gov) February 12, 2016
But notice that they didn't include Kissinger.