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The viral coverage of the Miss Universe slip-up may have pushed details of the debates out of your newsfeed, but we’ve been keeping an eye on the media buzz with our U.S. Presidential Campaign Tracker. Check out the latest analysis to see how Republican and Democrat candidates fared in their most recent face-offs.
Before we dig into the details of the Republican debate, here’s one fun note. According to many weighing in on Twitter, the big winner was Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker. The Independent reported that the moderator racked up an impressive number of tweets “… for his accent, his tendency to ask difficult questions, and the way he looks.” Enough about the moderators …
One glance at the Word Cloud created based on trending subjects in the media following the debate shows a focus on foreign policy. In the wake of attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, candidates felt the need to address the burgeoning threat of terrorism.
As in the past, Donald Trump’s bold stance – this time on halting immigration to the U.S. based on religion – ensured that he rocketed past all other candidates, Republican or Democrat, in social media mentions.
While Jeb Bush could not overtake front-runner Donald Trump, media outlets awarded him points for going toe-to-toe with Trump who at times actually appeared flustered by Bush’s aggressive tactics. The fact that articles touting Republican Debate Winners mentioned Jeb Bush second only to Trump supports the consensus that Bush put in a stronger performance.
Not to be outdone by Republican debate watchers, Twitter users also chimed in when Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley took the stage. The target this time was another moderator – Martha Raddatz. Twitter erupted with cries of sexism when Raddatz asked Hillary Clinton, “You have said that Bill Clinton is a great host and loves giving tours, but might opt out of making flower arrangements if you're elected. Bill Clinton aside, is it time to change the role of a president's spouse?” Adding fuel to the fire, Raddatz asked Martin O’Malley if his wife would have to give up her career as a judge to become First Lady. Set aside burning questions about who will pick the White House china in 2017, and the Democratic debate covered familiar ground ranging from terrorism and foreign policy to the American middle class.
The candidate media coverage chart shows that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders saw modest bumps in media coverage following the debate. Interestingly, Bernie Sanders actually received more coverage around the debate, perhaps because of his thoughtful apology over the DNC data breach. Martin O’Malley, on the other hand, barely moved the needle.
Another finding culled from media analysis was a disparity of coverage across certain states. The News Source by State chart shows that John Kasich’s presence on the Republican debate stage drew some interest in Ohio, but the Democratic debate garnered less attention in the state.
One final Twitter-related tidbit: following the Democratic debate, Donald Trump weighed in about viewership, touting the higher numbers garnered by the “Trump” Republican debate versus the “Clinton” Democratic debate, as he tweeted. The Democratic debate actually led the night as the most-watched program by total viewers on any major network, but that wasn’t enough to propel it ahead of previous debates. Of course, the most recent debate was held on the Saturday night before Christmas and the weekend of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens debut. Could “The Donald” have earned stellar numbers going up against General Organa, Han Solo and a wookie?
We’ll be watching the media closely as the candidates head to Iowa and New Hampshire, so keep tabs with our U.S. Presidential Campaign Tracker and continue to watch for more posts here.