Pence-Kaine Debate Jabs Resonate on Social Media


Pence Kaine debate

Democratic and Republican vice presidential nominees Tim Kaine and Mike Pence weren’t the only ones who couldn’t stop bickering during their Oct. 4 debate.

The social media universe made history as both GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton barraged Twitter with pointed live tweets while their running mates exchanged barbs on the debate stage.

The top re-tweet of the night was Trump’s declaration of a Mike Pence debate victory, according to Twitter data, and the Indiana governor seemed to edge out his opponent in other social media buzz. “Governor Pence,” “Pence” and “Mike Pence” won three of the top five slots for most trending searches across Google during the debate. Pence also dominated 54 percent of the conversations on Facebook, and gained 22,000 new followers on Twitter, compared to a 15,000 follower gain by Kaine, according data provided by the companies.

But Kaine’s online presence was far from crickets: Google search interest in Kaine topped Pence, 55 percent to Pence’s 45 percent, throughout the night. Kaine won the debate’s top moment on Facebook, generating the most posts, comments, likes and shares when he said that Pence couldn’t defend his running mate, Facebook reported.

Foreign policy chatter dominated online activity more than during Clinton and Trump’s own Sept. 26 faceoff. “Foreign affairs” and “terrorism” were two of the top three most-tweeted topics on Twitter during the Pence-Kaine debate. The platform’s top tweeted moments were Kaine and Pence’s discussion on Russian president Vladimir Putin as well as their debate on the use of nuclear weapons. 

Facebook conversations followed suit. After taxes, discussions on the site were most heavily focused on the issues of Russia, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria and ISIS.

The Trump-Pence ticket drew the scrutiny of the majority of fact-checking searches topping Google’s data, with questions about either Trump or Pence as the topic of eight of the top 10 searches fact-checking what Pence and Kaine were saying. Top questions after Kaine’s statements included “Did Trump say that more countries should have nuclear weapons?” and “Did Mike Pence say Putin is a better leader than Obama?”  Top question searches sparked by Pence’s statements included “Does Donald Trump do business with Russia?” and “What did Donald Trump say about nuclear weapons?”