Networks and news outlets have largely deemed Carly Fiorina the winner of Wednesday night's CNN-hosted Republican primary debate, noting that she held her ground against and may have even outshone vocal frontrunner Donald Trump. Although she has been the highlight of reporters' and pundits' next-day accounts of the debate, Trump dominated online conversations during and immediately after the event.
Trump triggered the most tweets on Wednesday night, according to information provided to The Huffington Post by data analysis firm Amobee Brand Intelligence. He was also responsible for inspiring the most overall digital content engagement, meaning posts about him were seen the most across the 600,000 websites, including social media and mobile platforms, the firm monitors.
Trump was mentioned in approximately one-quarter of the nearly 4 million tweets that were generated about the debate between 8 p.m. and 11:13 p.m. Wednesday, Amobee found. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose name was used in 271,917 tweets, came in second place. Fiorina, comparatively, was name-checked in a meager 242,451 tweets.
Perhaps it's not surprising that attention begets attention. A chart of debate time relative to tweets generated shows there is indeed a correlation between the two. However, Trump spoke for only a few minutes more than Bush, Fiorina, Ben Carson and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz -- but was mentioned in more tweets than all those four opponents combined.
Debate time was rounded to nearest minute.
An attempted analysis of what was being said about the candidates was less conclusive. Amobee tried to measure "positive" and "negative" sentiments associated with online statements, but it can often be difficult for algorithms to accurately measure intentions. The number of sarcastic and ironic comments people were posting about the debate made this study even more challenging.
Google Trends identified a similar pecking order of Internet attention generated.
The musings of Internet users on one debate night likely capture just a small percentage of eventual primary or general election voters. And although more Americans are tuned in to this election cycle than usual, most are still not paying attention.