#SMTLive Schedule

Explore more: 

Social Data Focus Group: G.O.P Debate and U.S Politics

This week’s news cycle was tumultuous and perpetual, starting with the sad passing of two beloved and iconic Brits, David Bowie and Alan Rickman. The last seven days have also bore witness to the largest Powerball jackpot, ever. College football championship showdown drama. The Golden Globes came and went and the #OscarNoms hit the interwebs. End scene.

In such a heavily populated news cycle, we’re focusing this week’s post on that ever-present being in the U.S. air -- Politics. (Note: If you want to dive into the data on the above topics and more, read this Brandwatch React post).

This week was historic with President Obama’s final State of the Union address, and it also provided us with the opportunity to examine the GOP candidates who wish to replace him during the sixth Republican debate.

As a Democratic debate looms for the weekend, you should read this post to be fully up to date as the Dems take the stage.

Obama Chooses to Look Ahead, Not Behind, In His Final State of the Union

President Obama’s final State of the Union address accumulated more than 2.1 million tweets between January 12 and 13. Over 1.07 million mentions occurred while President Obama was live in his pulpit addressing the nation between 9pm EST and 10:10pm EST.

Sentiment analysis shows that the president’s address was well received as 62% of sentiment-categorized tweets were positive.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.33.17 AM_BW.png

Looking at State of the Union mentions during the actual address itself shows that the online conversation was steadily active throughout. There were dips and valleys in the discussion’s minute-by-minute mentions, but this conversation was far more constant from start to finish (as compared to political debates).

We can see, however, that the conversation peaked as President Obama concluded his address at 10:10. This one minute registered nearly 24,000 mentions.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.38.29 AM_BW.png

The issue that received the most social attention from Obama’s address was the economy and the economic state of the country. The economy was mentioned more than 43,000 times within the State of the Union discussion. Different issues that also garnered considerable attention were:

  • Gun Control with more than 22,000 mentions.

  • National Security with more than 20,000 mentions.


Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.41.46 AM_BW.png

The issue that received the most attention from women was Immigration as women made up more than 56 percent of all immigration mentions.

Men appeared to be more focused on national security as 57% of national security mentions within the SOTU conversation came from men.

The topic of the economy was split near identically across gender.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.50.58 AM_BW.png

All mentions within the State of the Union discussion were split relatively evenly across gender with men holding a slight majority share with 54 percent of all unique Twitter authors.

It’s very unlikely that you didn’t see anything regarding last night’s State of the Union address as the hashtag, #SOTU, accumulated more than 27.5 billion impressions.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.53.53 AM_BW.png

Lastly, What did Donald Trump think of the whole address?

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.57.44 AM.png

Trump may have criticized President Obama without thinking about the stage he would be put on later in the week for the sixth GOP debate.

One Candidate Challenges Trump’s Social Reign

The sixth GOP debate registered roughly 565,000 Twitter mentions while the candidates took to their podiums from 9pm - 11:30pm EST.

The overall debate’s sentiment was close to even, but skewed positively within sentiment-categorized tweets with 55% of mentions being positive.

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.39.04 PM_BW.png

Two individual candidates seemed to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack in terms of overall mentions, and those two were Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Trump garnered the most mentions with nearly 170,000, and Cruz accumulated nearly 153,000 respectively.

Marco Rubio came in a distant third with roughly 75,000 mentions. The candidate who received the least amount of mentions was John Kasich who only saw just under 23,000 mentions.

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.43.41 PM_BW.png

It is important to note that at 10:15pm EST Ted Cruz had more mentions than Donald Trump. This marked the first time that any other candidate, besides Trump, boasted the most mentions, however Trump did regain the top position as the debate came to its conclusion.

Examining the sentiment of each candidate’s conversation allows us to better understand who won the approval of online commenters. The three candidates who boast the most positive conversations are Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush. Within sentiment-categorized mentions, the percentage of positive mentions was as follows:

  1. Marco Rubio - 62% positive.

  2. Ted Cruz - 59% positive.

  3. Jeb Bush - 57% positive.

The candidate with the most negative sentiment was Donald Trump with 50.4% of sentiment-categorized tweets being negative.

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.46.05 PM_BW.png

The conversation’s peak, however, belongs to Ben Carson. At 9:47pm EST Carson referred to internet commenters, and the trolls bolstered his mentions as this one minute registered over 3,100 mentions.

The second largest peak goes to Carson again. At 9:18pm EST Carson’s rambling response to regarding national security and enemies detonating bombs in our “exo-atmosphere.” This minute saw about 3,000 mentions.

The third peak belonged to Ted Cruz at 9:29pm EST when he addressed recent questions about his Canadian birth. This minute received over 2,900 mentions.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 12.10.27 AM_BW.png

The issues that saw the most mentions within this debate’s conversation were:

  1. Foreign Affairs with 32% of all political issue related mentions.

  2. Taxes with 31% of mentions.

  3. Immigration with 15% of mentions.

  4. Gun Control with 11% of mentions.


Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 12.14.36 AM_BW.png

When we look at the issues most discussed across candidate mentions, we can see that:

  • Ben Carson’s mentions, along with John Kasich’s and Ted Cruz’s, focused on taxes.

  • Chris Christie, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush centered around foreign affairs.

  • Marco Rubio was the only candidate with the majority of political issue related mentions that focused on immigration.


Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 12.24.36 AM_BW.png

When we look at the candidates’ Twitter handles, we see that the mention volume correlations with the impressions their handles amassed. Out of the seven, primetime debate participants, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz accrued the most impressions.

Donald Trump’s handle accrued more than 1.6 billion impressions. Cruz’s Twitter handle received nearly 1.2 billion impressions.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 12.24.16 AM.png

Perhaps you should keep this post open as you watch Sunday’s debate so that you can remember how the Republicans fared on Thursday, or if you rather watch how every candidate’s conversation changes during the debate, in real-time, check out our data visualization. Brandwatch is releasing a monthly newsletter around the 2016 presidential election social conversation. Email react@brandwatch.com to subscribe.



Join The Conversation

Webinars On Demand

  • May 09, 2017
    With all of the technologies available to marketers today, have we lost that personal touch? Join VP of Content Marketing for ON24, Mark Bornste...
  • April 05, 2017
    In the ever-changing world of digital marketing, operational efficiency, quick turn-around times, testing and adapting to change are crucial to...