Every month until the general election, FleishmanHillard TRUE will release a buzz report that details the social conversations surrounding the top candidates in each party. This analysis is conducted through the Spredfast Intelligence platform and will help identify the candidates that are being talked about on social media. While the report provides interesting conversation fodder, it does not take sentiment into account, and we do not claim that is it representative of poll numbers.
The long-awaited debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, which was the most-watched TV event of September, was responsible for a quarter of candidate-related conversation on social media. Almost 25% of social mentions involving the remaining candidates, including Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party representative Jill Stein, were posted on September 26 (the day of the debate) and September 27 (when the debate was still driving conversation). While Johnson and Stein were left off the debate stage, Johnson’s supporters still managed to show their enthusiasm through the hashtag #LetGaryDebate, which was one of the top 20 hashtags used in September.
Both Clinton’s and Trump’s handles were both ready to make the most of #DebateNight, and Clinton’s team — which fact-checked Trump’s claims, in real-time, from the @HillaryClinton account — earned more than 1.5 million engagements on the night. Clinton’s strategy of fact-checking Trump worked: For example, when Trump argued he “never said” that global warming was fake during the debate, Clinton’s team shared a Trump post from 2012 in which he wrote, “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” earning more than 100,000 retweets. Trump’s account also posted during #DebateNight, and incorporated the messaging he used in the debate to label Clinton a “typical politician” who’s “out of touch” with regular Americans.
As a result of the debate, Clinton opened up a 6-point lead on Trump, according to the most recent Morning Consult/Political poll. The event helped raise Clinton’s brand awareness on social media, as well, as Clinton’s Share of Voice (37%) increased by six percentage points over August 2016, while Trump’s (59%) decreased by four points. With all eyes on the Democratic and Republican candidates, though, social mentions for both Johnson (2.5%) and Stein (1.5%) stagnated. The only significant spike for either candidate came on September 7, when Johnson admitted he didn’t know what Aleppo was during an interview on “Morning Joe.”