This article was originally published on CNET.
Big Data was a big part of the first big debate.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battled it out Monday night at Long Island’s Hofstra University in the first of their three debates as they race to become the next US president. The candidates sparred over “America’s direction,” “achieving prosperity” and “securing America” — basically anything — in a debate that was expected to draw an audience on par with the Super Bowl.
While Trump said during the spirited debate he has the “winning temperament” to be president, he claimed his Democratic rival doesn’t have the “stamina” for the position. Clinton fired back in many different ways, saying the Republican candidate wasn’t prepared to debate and isn’t qualified to be commander in chief.
“You know what else I’m prepared for? I’m prepared to be president,” Clinton said. “And that’s a good thing.”
With the race in a virtual dead heat, the debate provoked an outpouring of political expression on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media. With that expectation, Clinton’s team recently sent supporters an email asking them to “advocate on every online platform on the night she goes head to head with Trump.” Meanwhile, Trump bought a Snapchat filter.
But the flood of data from social media reaction from the debate will likely paint a better picture, generating compelling and instantly useful information for campaigns. Companies like Fastly, L2 Political, Cambridge Analytica, NationBuilder, NGP VAN and TargetedVictory extract signals from piles of big data scraped from the social web, particularly Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Both campaigns employ internal teams that process these signals, using the data to shape messaging and their get-out-the-vote strategies.
“A lot of people are looking at this campaign, socially speaking, and want to compare this to the 2012 and 2008 [presidential] races,” said Kellan Terry, a data analyst for Brandwatch, which measures social media reaction. “But there’s really not one to be made. All conventional wisdom is gone.”
Fastly said it saw a spike of 1.5 million requests per second, an increase of 3,000 percent, in media sites with fact checkers when Clinton referenced her own website and its fact checkers while she criticized Trump for alleged inaccuracies about jobs and taxes. Social media also saw a 25 percent increase when Clinton dissed Trump’s tax policies calling them, “Trumped-Up trickle down” economics, which became the hashtag #TrumpedUpTrickleDown and began trending early on Twitter, Fastly added.
Other popular trending terms on Twitter included “#debatenight” with 2.4 million tweets, “Donald Trump,” with more than 2.1 million, “President” (1.1 million) and “The Donald” (1 million). “Fact check” also resonated with users, registering more than 326,000 tweets.
Social intelligence company Sysomos discovered similar results by scraping Twitter in real time during and immediately following the debate. Its tool scrapes the social web, then applies Boolean searches — complex conditional queries — to suss trending content.
Here were the top trending quotes from the debate on Twitter, by each candidate by the numbers, according to Sysomos:
Total mentions: 1,321,073
Most retweeted: https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/statuses/780577643456565248.
Total mentions: 1,707,617
Most retweeted: https://twitter.com/HillaryClinton/statuses/780577456080166912.
These were the top trending quotes from the debate on Twitter, by candidate:
1. “Trumped up, trickle down,” with 23,436 total mentions.
2. “I know you live in your own reality,” 26,668 total mentions.
3. “Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is,” 3,508 total mentions.
1. “Hillary Clinton has been fighting ISIS her entire adult life,” with 31,557 total mentions.
2. “Braggadocious,” with 14,040 total mentions.
3. “Stop and frisk,” 83,436 total mentions.
4. “Good temperament,” 9,741 total mentions.
Non-candidate trending topics:
Total mentions: 254,657
Most retweeted: https://twitter.com/DanaSchwartzzz/statuses/780219640744120321
Trump’s health: Sniffles, sickness
Total mentions: 39,989
Most retweeted: https://twitter.com/tyleroakley/statuses/780577076524888065
While he may not have fared well during the debate, Trump, whose Twitter handle is @realDonaldTrump, dominated the Twitter talk during the 90 minute-long clash. He captured 62 percent of the debate share of conversation on the social network compared with the 38 percent held by Clinton, whose Twitter handle is @HillaryClinton.
SEE: Best practices for using social media in business (Tech Pro Research report)
TechRepublic worked with data firm Datameer to generate sentiment analysis, a reflection of how social media users felt about the debate:
- Sentiment level for both candidates: Clinton: 47, Trump: 45.
- Positive and negative terms: Clinton (Neg: 5495, Pos: 4876), Trump (Neg: 3444, Pos: 2762)
- Top hashtags in descending order: #debatenight, #debates2016, #imwithher, #trump, #debates, #maga, #nevertrump, #neverhillary
- Top metions in descending order: @foxnews, @potus, @cnn, @mcuban, @seanhannity, @msnbc, @barackobama, @kellyannepolls
- Most engaged states in descending order: CA, FL, NY, TX, IL, NJ
Big data company OpenText shared social media debate trends with TechRepublic.
Election Tracker Trends: Pre-Debate (pulled Friday, September 23)
- In the last 72 hours, the top news outlets wrote 3,735 stories that discuss the election and candidates. Approximately 62% of those stories had a negative tone, according to the sentiment analysis tool, and 29% were positive.
- “New York” was the most popular state keyword mentioned by media companies, and ‘school,’ ‘price,’ and ‘tax’ were the top trending topics.
- In the top online news outlets, Donald Trump leads in mentions with 1,108 mentions compared to Hilary Clinton’s 870 media mentions.
- If you compare Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump in election coverage from the top online news sites in the previous 72 hours, Donald Trump received more negative mentions than Hilary (31% negative mentions for Trump vs. 23% negative mentions for Clinton).
- In the last 72 hours, Hillary Clinton’s most popular topics by media mention were (in order) Foreign Policy, Campaign Finance and Terrorism. Donald Trump’s most popular topics were (in order) Terrorism, Foreign Policy and Armed Forces.
Election Tracker Trends: Post-Debate (pulled Tuesday, September 27)
- In the last 72 hours, the top news outlets wrote 2,595 stories that discuss the election and candidates. Approximately 58% of those stories had a negative tone, according to the sentiment analysis tool, and 31% were positive.
- “New York” was the most popular state keyword mentioned by media companies, and ‘presidential,’ ‘tax,’ and ‘crime’ were the top trending topics.
- In the top online news outlets, Donald Trump leads in mentions with 1,109 compared to a very close Hillary Clinton’s 1,031 media mentions.
- If you compare Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump in election coverage from the top online news sites in the previous 72 hours, Donald Trump received more negative mentions than Hilary (27% negative mentions for Trump vs. 22% negative mentions for Clinton).
- In the last 72 hours, Hillary Clinton’s most popular topics by media mention were (in order) Foreign Policy, Terrorism and Campaign Finance. Donald Trump’s most popular topics were (in order) Foreign policy, Terrorism and Campaign Finances.
The effect of real-time social media on the debates is still being measured, said Dan Franklin, a political science professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
That’s because, according to Brandwatch’s Terry, the candidates are on a stage under bright lights, unaware of how their sentiment is playing on social media and whether it will lead to a positive or negative trend and a hashtag.
“They won’t benefit immediately from the social analysis, but they surely will review it later,” he said. “They will get to see for themselves and say, ‘In this moment I did very well,’ and ‘This is something I need to work on.'”
Franklin agrees, using football terminology to further the point.
“There will be no ‘Hail Mary’s’ or ‘running out the clock,’ at least for now,” Franklin said. “However, in the future, it might be useful for candidates to think in those terms.”
CNET freelancer Eric Mack contributed to this report.
- Twitter sentiment analysis finds two candidates have never been more controversial-or unpopular (TechRepublic)
- The big data trail to our next president (ZDNet)
- Clinton and Trump indicate social analytics are predictive analytics (TechRepublic)
- Obama ’12 campaign CTO Harper Reed: Leadership is more powerful than technology (TechRepublic)
- Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton locked in tight race nationally (CBS News)