Vice Presidential debate generates 3.5 million tweets

Steven Loeb · October 12, 2012 · Short URL:

JFK and malarky the clear winners of the debate on Twitter

While last night’s vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan was not going draw the same number of viewers and tweets as the fight between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama last week, there were still plenty of fireworks and moments made for Twitter.

There was Joe Biden calling Ryan’s criticisms on Obama’s Libya response “malarkey.” There was Biden’s reference to Lloyd Bentsen’s famous “ Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” line from 1988. And then there was all the laughing and smirking from the Vice President. (Notice how all the things I mentioned above were moments provided to us by Joe Biden. In terms of getting attention, Biden clearly won last night.)

Yes, everyone is talking about Biden this morning, but how did the candidates do on Twitter?

If you were looking for the VP debate to rival the first presidential debate between Romney and Obama, you will be disappointed. Last week’s debate was the most heavily tweeted event in U.S. history, topping the RNC and the DNC with 10.3 million tweets in 90 minutes. The VP debate did not generate even half that interest, only reaching 3.5 million, according to Twitter.

In all, 26% of the tweets last night involved foreign policy, 21% were about the economy and 16% were about taxes, while most of the top Tweets per minute came from quips made by the candidates.

At one point in the debate, while defending Mitt Romney’s tax plan, Ryan said, “Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth.” Biden turned to him and said “Oh, now you are Jack Kennedy?”

Many saw the moment as a reference to the 1988 vice presidential debate, where the Democratic nominee, Lloyd Bentsen, famously said to Dan Quayle, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

Biden’s comment generated 58,275 Tweets per minute.

The second highest TPM’s came from Ryan when he said, “They got caught with their hand in the cookie jar turning Medicare into a piggy bank for Obamacare,” which inspired 55,540 TPM, and when Biden discussed the timeline for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, which produced 54,944 TPM.

Below is the timeline of the debate on Twitter:

In every one of these debates, there is always one word that causes a huge stir on Twitter. Last week, after Mitt Romney said he would cut funding for PBS, Big Bird generated 17,000 tweets per minute.

This week’s word: malarkey, which generated over 30,000 Tweets.

And how do the candidates stand when it comes to the all-important (but perhaps not for very much longer) number of followers?

Here Ryan clearly wins, edging out Biden 410,230 to 239,689. 

Check out some of the more memorable pictures Tweeted from last night's debate:

Moderator Martha Raddatz, receiving a Louisville Slugger. You know, since the debate was in Kentucky.

Mitt Romney watching the debate with a contest winner.

President Obama checking out the debate from Air Force One.

(Image source:

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