Big Data Analysis of Debate Shows Ted Cruz Grabbed Viewers' Attention

NEWS ANALYSIS: An expanded analysis of voter sentiment and reactions to the Republican candidates' debate conducted by CNBC on Oct. 28 produced some surprising results.

Republica Debate Analysis 2

WASHINGTON—Once again, eWEEK worked with a group of big data analysis companies to track viewer sentiment and engagement during the most recent Republican presidential candidates’ debate televised on Oct. 28.

This time, however, the analysts cast a much wider net to gather data that highlighted trends that were hinted at before, but not fully confirmed by the available data. This time the data came from Twitter, as it has in the past, as well as from Facebook and Instagram.

What made the data analysis more interesting than the first time was changes in the overall field and relative positions of the candidates in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

One candidate, as we predicted in our previous analysis, dropped out of the race. In addition, new candidates came to the fore, while some of the major candidates appear to be releasing their hold on the top spot as others rise to the top, if only temporarily.

But political events don't play out in a vacuum, and on the night of the Republican debate, potential voter sentiment was also impacted by a televised speech from Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders as well as by the second game of the Major League Baseball World Series.

Sanders upset the calm analysis of political data from the Republican debate with his speech at George Mason University in which he advocated the legalization of marijuana. As you might expect, Sanders' social media traffic was off the charts.

With that context in mind, we went back to the National Press Club with the LUX2016 data analysis tool that we've used in the previous Republican and Democratic debates.

This time however, we were able to look at presumed gender and party affiliations. As in previous debates, we looked at social media traffic regarding all of the candidates seeking the presidential nomination on their respective party ballots, simultaneously.

In addition to looking at the real-time data provided by LUX2016, we also looked at data from social media monitoring company Postano. This let us track results over time, especially in terms of the candidates’ positions on a variety of topics, but which also might link to other issues through associated hashtags.

Another related topic we investigated came from Web page performance data tracked by AppDynamics, which allowed us to observe the changes that the candidates made to their webpages in anticipation of the debates. Meanwhile, the folks at Spredfast, a social media strategy company, gave us the social media totals for the night.

The analysis revealed that despite the pronouncements from the pundits, Texas Senator Ted Cruz had the best night for the Republicans.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...