Last night the Republican Party held the first two debates of the 2016 presidential election. Two debates because, due to the overabundance of candidates in the GOP field, one debate was held for 10 front runners while another debate, held earlier in the day, was host to 7 of the "second-tier" candidates. By all accounts the debates were lively and eventful, as was the social media and internet reaction to them.
One of the ways that the news media now likes to measure who is getting the most attention at presidential debates is through live Google search metrics. Basically, who has their name popping up in the most Google searches. In that case two winners were, according to the Washington Post, Ted Cruz, whose introduction created a huge spike on Google, and Ben Carson, whose answer on terrorism and closing remarks also garnered a jump in searches.
Carson was also high up in the "searches per minute" metric, though the undisputed winner there was Donald Trump, although his status as a celebrity long before he even jumped into the race, along with being a favorite internet punching bag, probably meant people were doing searches on him anyway.
In terms of the undercard, Former HP head Carly Fiorina is being trumpeted as the clear winner, as evidenced by the flood of tweets demanding she be moved up to front-runner status for the next debate:
This status as the first debate leader was codified by America's premier statistics nerd Nate Silver in a tweet:
In terms of social media attention, again, it shouldn't be surprising that Donald Trump dominated in that area. Other reactions, to the Donald's performance and otherwise, on social media included:
The International Business Times has a good collection of reaction tweets you should check out.
Really though, the undisputed winner of the debates seemed to have been moderator and Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who went after the candidates with gusto while generally avoiding dreaded 'gotcha' questions.
You can tell she was fair because one of her main targets, Donald Trump, later went on twitter to kvetch and whine about Kelly and her fellow moderator Frank Luntz, which candidates usually only do when they've been beaten in a debate.
His whining also lead to my favorite reaction tweet:
The questions from the moderators were so unfaaaaiiiiiir.... pic.twitter.com/cLd4E5RJ5G- jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) August 7, 2015
So the Presidential Debate season is off to a lively start! Now we just have a few hundred more debates to get through before the actual presidential election begins.