Big Data Analysis of Debate Shows Ted Cruz Grabbed Viewers' Attention
His voter engagement, which we think is directly related to social media engagement, was far above any of the other candidates. This held true when looking at his real time results on LUX2016 and his overall results using Spredfast. Notably, the best reactions for these candidates came when they were attacking the media in the form of the debate organizers at CNBC. Apparently the viewers and the candidates objected to deep, in depth, probing questions such as "What are the three top apps on your phone?" Or about questions regarding the candidates’ fantasy football picks. As was the case in previous debates, we found that a couple of the candidates were experiencing such low levels of voter engagement that they might want to think about folding their tents and looking for more rewarding pastimes. This became apparent during the previous GOP debate when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker generated virtually no engagement just days after the second Republican debate. We saw similar low levels of engagement with Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee and former Virginia Senator James Webb right before they withdrew. This time we observed two more candidates with very low levels of voter engagement.However, three of the candidates that haven't polled well recently, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich and Lindsay Graham, exhibited moments of strength that may propel them to better polling results in the next few days if they can keep their voter engagement going. Also surprising was the relatively weak performance by three of the prominent candidates, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Jeb Bush. They maintained a constant level of voter engagement, but all fell behind Cruz and at least most of the time, Marco Rubio. These levels of voter interest could eventually translate into problems for the candidates in terms of fundraising and overall visibility. Of course the candidates' social media engagement in the debates doesn't necessarily predict how they might do in the general election, but they're a very good measure of potential voter sentiment in real time. Candidates that are able to hold onto that sentiment and turn it into long term support in may be able to move up in the polls and then perhaps gain support in the primary and from political donors. It's still a full year before the election and the national conventions are nine months away, but already we may be able to see how the final battles will shape up.
While there are several GOP candidates who aren't doing well, two on the main stage that are seeing little voter engagement were former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. We were surprised to see so little interest in Christie, but despite his impassioned responses to questions, voter reaction was almost flat.