Twitter and the Vice Presidential Debate

Twitter users sent 3.5 million tweets about the vice presidential debate during the event last night, less than half the amount sent during the first presidential debate.

The company reported in a blog post that the buzzword of the night was malarkey, which spurred 30,000 tweets after Joe Biden said, “That’s a bunch of malarkey.” In the presidential debate, the hot term was Big Bird, according to Twitter. This probably says more about what many viewers look for in debates — gaffes, catchphrases, and sarcastic quips — than anything about Twitter in particular.

The Twitter blog post is informative, with a nice accompanying graphic. The action on the platform during the vice presidential debate was significant, even though it seemingly drew less involvement than the first presidential debate. That contest arguably had a much higher profile, and it would not be fair to expect a vice presidential faceoff to bring the same attention.

The importance of Twitter as it relates to political debates can be overestimated, as I argued in a previous post. But the quantitative information gathered from Twitter during the vice presidential debate is another example of how the platform can be used as a part of coverage and analysis of politics.

That use, as a source for statistics on popular opinion, is certainly important, and should be noted as another way Twitter can be a tool for reporters.

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