Debate wins are like pizza. Even when they're bad, they're still pretty good.
In the wake of yesterday's Twitter-only Republican
presidential debate, it is time to take a look at who the winners and losers
are coming out of what was an at-times messy but certainly never boring virtual
town hall. The event held at 140TownHall.com and sponsored by several Tea Party
activists featured some of the more right wing White House hopefuls, headlined
by Michele Bachmann. But even with Bachmann participating according to our
numbers, it sure was a good day to be a former pizza magnate.
According to OhMyGov Media Monitoring, following
yesterday's debate almost all of the participating candidates saw spikes in
Twitter mentions, news mentions, and retweets...none more so than former
Godfather's Pizza CEO and Tea Party favorite Herman Cain. Cain led all
participating candidates in Twitter mentions and retweets, netting 2,188 and 107
of each metric respectively. These numbers lead the field by a fairly wide
margin, especially in terms of mentions.
The second most popular candidate in terms of mentions was
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who pulled in a very respectable
1,949. All of the other candidates in the debate clocked in at under a thousand
mentions, including former Speaker Newt Gingrich who had a mere 849.
When it came to retweets, Cain once again was the leader as
we mentioned earlier. This time it was Gingrich who was next in line with 71,
followed by former Senator Rick Santorum who collected 23. Bachmann lagged far
behind in this category with a paltry 7 retweets, only one more than the
fringiest of fringe candidates in Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MS).
In fact Bachmann led her Tea Party competitors in only one
category, and it was a "win" that was most likely no thanks to her debate
performance. Bachmann had 433 mainstream news mentions on Wednesday, far ahead
of the rest of the field which was led by Santorum with 150 mentions.
This would be a fact Bachmann's campaign would be proud of
if not for the reality that most of this coverage was of her claims of
debilitating migraines and a story of her staff's allegedly rough
treatment of an ABC reporter at a campaign event. Some would say there is no
such thing as bad press; the last few days in Bachmannland would put that
hypothesis to the test.
According to the debate's online moderator, conservative
pundit S.E. Cupp, the event yielded 180 tweets per minute with 3,800+ total
mentions of @140townhall and 4,500 retweets. These are not terrible numbers by
any stretch, but they pale in comparison to what President Obama generated for
his recent Twitter town hall. Just for comparison's sake, the final seconds of
the recent Women's World Cup championship match generated 7,166 per second.
So while Herman Cain might have had a good afternoon, he's no Hope Solo. But
then, who among us is?
Wednesday's debate was a success in that it used social
media as the exclusive platform to conduct a presidential debate, not an
ancillary feature of the debate but the main mode of debate. That in and
of itself is a revolutionary moment in the way social media is being integrated
into our politics. But the fact remains that while the 140 Town Hall is a nice
step towards the wider political adoption of social media, it does not seem to
have had the deep impact organizers may have hoped for.