#DemDebate: Tackling the Issues

Tuesday night marked the first Democratic Presidential Debate, which many lauded as a substantive discussion of the most important issues facing our country. The five Democratic hopefuls touched on a wide range of topics, including the economy, gun control, foreign policy, criminal justice reform and the fatigue surrounding talk of Secretary Clinton’s emails. Inevitably, the always-engaged Twitterverse tuned in to the debate, to offer commentary on the night’s discourse. On Tuesday, there were over 2 million tweets using the #DemDebate hashtag. Within these tweets, which topics appeared most frequently? Which issues did Twitter users care about the most? Conversations on race, centered particularly on #BlackLivesMatter, were pervasive last night, with over 74,000 relevant Twitter mentions. This is a topic that was notably skimmed over during the recent GOP debates. Also on Twitter users’ minds last night were the issues of gun control and immigration. For a full breakdown of the issues by volume on Twitter, see the chart below.


The CNN debate drew a record 15.3 million viewers on Tuesday, which explains the high level of social media engagement. How did the online conversation differ from the discussion that occurred on stage?  According to Washington Post, the candidates mentioned climate change, guns, Iraq and the middle class the most during the debate. Though race and gender did draw several mentions from the candidates on stage on Tuesday, it seems as though these issues prompted even larger conversations online, as Twitter users weighed in on #BlackLivesMatter and gender equality.