October 17, 2012

How the presidential debate played online

Here are some of the key online trends from the night . . .

Oskar Garcia / The Associated Press

Move over Big Bird, these binders are full of women.

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FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama talk after the first presidential debate in Denver. There they go again. Or do they? When President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debate Tuesday night, the fact-checking media will be watching for the erroneous claims that have popped up repeatedly in the campaign, as well as brand new ones. Here's how you can play fact-check Whac-A-Mole, too. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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The offhand phrase from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Tuesday night was one of many topics that pinballed across social networks, as users instantly weighed in on moments from his debate with President Barack Obama.

As with their first debate, for many online users it was less about picking an instant winner and a loser and more about dissecting how the candidates relate to everyday Americans.

Here are some of the key online trends from the night:

Binders full of women: Yes, it now has its own Twitter account, @Romneys_Binder, with more than 12,000 followers before the debate ended. On Facebook, it has nearly 20 different Facebook pages, including one with nearly 136,000 likes. The parodies started pouring in after Romney said that while he was governor of Massachusetts, he sought qualified women for his administration. Romney said he went to "a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us whole binders full of women."

Get the transcript: "Big Bird and Planned Parenthood" was the first of several Obama phrases that social media users shared throughout the night, but Obama's "Get the transcript" retort to Romney over the labeling an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya as an act of terror drew volumes of quick, passionate responses from both Obama and Romney supporters on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. Obama fans praised the president for calling Romney on his claim that Obama waited to label the attack terrorism, while Romney fans accused Obama of not being fully truthful. The day after the Sept. 11 attack, Obama said: "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation."

The questioners: The everyday Americans who asked questions of Obama and Romney in the town hall-style debate took central stage in conversations on Twitter, even more than moderator Candy Crowley. At least four questioners, including college student Jeremy Epstein, became trending topics on the network. "Joe the Plumber" also trended because of the comparisons with a reference to Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher, who in 2008 became a household name after asking Obama about small business during a campaign stop.

Crowley vs Lehrer vs Raddatz: Crowley's performance was highly scrutinized, but the CNN personality was mostly spared the scathing reviews given to PBS' Jim Lehrer after his turn moderating the first debate. Many users, however, made "Where's Martha" a trending topic, speculating about whether ABC's Martha Raddatz would have been a good choice after her widely praised handling of the vice presidential debate.

The 47 percent: Romney's now-famous "47 percent" comment finally made a cameo, instantly driving Reddit and Twitter users to weigh in. Romney's comment that he's concerned with 100 percent of Americans led users to compare it to the caught-on-camera moment from a fundraiser, and Obama generated even more responses when he mentioned it in his closing comments.

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