Bing analyzes the New Hampshire Democratic debate

Earlier this week, Bing launched the Primaries 2016 experience to provide users a timeline, real-time results and predictions for state primaries and caucuses. The primaries tracker joins the Bing Political Index (BPI), Candidate Trends, and the other features of the Bing Elections experience to provide a simple yet powerful view of the candidates and issues. To complement our online experience, Bing Predicts analyzed public reaction to the fifth Democratic debate in New Hampshire last night, in a similar fashion to our analysis of the seventh GOP debate last week. The following information provides an aggregated, anonymous, and unbiased view of what the web and social responses were in response to the debate, from 9-11pm Eastern Time on Thursday, February 4.

The economy was the hot topic of the night

Last night’s debate was the first in this campaign to feature only two candidates after Martin O’Malley pulled out earlier this week. We analyzed attention and sentiment on social media throughout last night’s debate to create a visualization of the topics that saw the strongest reactions from the public (Chart 1). Economy was the main topic of the first hour, with some discussion on health care at the beginning of the debate. Attention on social media peaked 9:40-9:50pm as the candidates were discussing Wall Street. The second half of the debate saw foreign policy, the Middle East, and trade as the main topics.


Chart 1: Graph of topics discussed on Twitter during the February 4 Democratic debate.

Overall, economy was the topic that resonated the most on social media, with 30.3% of all debate-related postings discussing it. Foreign policy (18.4%) came second, followed by Middle East issues (12.4%), as shown in Chart 2. The topics discussed last night were substantially different than the ones discussed in the GOP debate on January 28. Economy received little attention last week, as followers of the Republican debate were talking terrorism & homeland security (28.4%) and immigration reform (20.2%)

Social Media Share

Chart 2: Share of topics discussed on social media during the February 4 Democratic debate.

Sanders narrowly won overall attention, Clinton generated the highest spikes

With Martin O’Malley suspending his campaign, the stage was left to a Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders head-to-head debate. We measured the public attention each candidate received during the debate using the number of mentions of him or her on social media. Note that this is a ranking simply by sheer number of mentions, so being controversial or provocative counts as much as being popular. Chart 3 provides the minute by minute breakdown.

Sanders narrowly won social media attention (51.7% vs. 48.3%). However, it was Clinton who had the biggest attention spikes of the night. The first one was when responded to Sanders, who called her a representative of the establishment, by saying that “Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment” (9:25pm). The second moment was when Clinton claimed that she never “changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received” (9:28pm). Sanders had the most mentioned individual quote, “in my view, the business model of Wall Street is fraud” (9:49pm).

Candidates Over Time

Chart 3: Graph of candidates over time, measured by mentions on social media.

Certainly, each debate contains intricacies at many levels. Our analysis provides some insights from the data on the candidates across the topics that viewers and readers care about, and we encourage you to dig deeper into the topics and candidates at Don’t forget to check our new Primaries experience for timelines, real-time results, and the latest predictions for each state.

– Bing Predicts Team