Last Updated Oct 14, 2015 12:29 AM EDT
When Bernie Sanders said it was time to stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s email controversy during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Facebook users went wild.
“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!” the Vermont senator proclaimed during a portion of the debate that turned to questions over Clinton’s use of a home-based server and private email address while she served as secretary of state.
During the debate, Sanders was also the top-discussed candidate on Facebook (which co-sponsored the debate with CNN), followed by Clinton, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and former Rhode Island Gov. and Sen. Lincoln Chafee. He wins across the broader social media world as well, getting 570,477 mentions during the debate, according to social analytics platform NetBase — more than 100,000 more than Hillary Clinton, the next most-talked-about candidate.
He also dominated hashtag-driven chatter, with #feelthebern, #debatewithbernie and #berniesanders ranking in the top five trending hashtags across social media.
While the Facebook world was eager to share Sanders’ statement about Clinton’s email, it wasn’t one of the top issues discussed during the debate. Racial issues spurred the most conversation, likely prompted by a question from Facebook about whether the candidates believe black lives matter or all lives matter. The hashtag #blacklivesmatter was the second highest-trending on all social media platforms.
The economy was the second-most discussed issue on Facebook, with government ethics, energy and environment policy and guns rounding out the list.
But Clinton’s comments about her email usage — and particularly her answer of “no” when asked if she wanted to follow up on criticism of her email usage by Chafee — did resonate more broadly across all social media platforms. It was the number one trending topic connected to the debate, according to NetBase.
The candidates sparred on the issue of gun control for several minutes, debating the merits of a 1993 background-check law and the role that urban and rural states play in the debate about gun control.
Vermonters were the most engaged of the states on Facebook, followed by denizens of New Hampshire, the state that holds the first 2016 primary election. Third were Marylanders, who saw their former governor, O’Malley, on stage. Rhode Islanders were likely chatting about Chafee, who served as their governor and senator, and Virginia and Nevada tied for the fifth most engaged states. Webb served as a senator from Virginia, while the debate itself took place in Nevada.
Across social media, Clinton and O’Malley generated large increases in the amount of positive mentions they received on social media. Sanders saw little change, while Chafee and Webb got a lot of negative chatter during the debate compared to what they saw beforehand. NetBase said