If you missed our coverage of the first U.S. Presidential Debate, read it here.
In the highly contentious U.S. election, the Second Presidential Debate was met with much anticipation. As scandals marked both campaigns – a 2005 video of Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women and Hillary Clinton’s leaked speeches to Wall Street – Americans were eager to see what would unfold in the town hall style debate, the format of which provides undecided voters the forum to ask questions.
The tone of the debate was set at the opening moment before the first question was asked. Trump and Clinton took the stage and notably refused to shake hands. The clip has received the most rebroadcasts making it the establishing shot when recounting the second debate.
The top moment on social generating over 800,000 social engagements was when Trump promised, if he won, to have his Attorney General assign a special prosecutor investigate Clinton.
Clinton didn’t seem to have any big moments that landed with viewers according to social media engagements. During the debate Clinton’s engagements remained mostly flat, spiking only when the debate was over.
How people felt about the second debate is evident in social media. Overall, social engagements for each candidate increased compared to the first debate. However, sentiment for both candidates declined.
The hostility during the debate and from the candidates’ campaigns is showing up negatively in how people are discussing the presidential nominees on social media. Trump faired better in Sunday’s debate, nearly doubling his quantity of social media engagements from the first debate and seeing his positive sentiment slip 19% compared to Clinton’s 29% sentiment decline.
The polarized political landscape is evident in our media consumption as well. Evaluating the moments that have been rebroadcast most on the 3 leading cable news networks reveals the contrast in coverage from the second debate.
Fox News has broadcast the clip of Trump saying to Clinton, “Honest Abe never lied, that’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you,” 13 times.
CNN and MSNBC, on the other hand, are leaning into the clips of Clinton disparaging Trump’s temperament and Trump dismissing Pence on Syria policy.
If the second debate is any indication, there’s sure to be more drama in the race to be president. Check back after the third and debate to see how Americans are responding to the candidates as Election Day approaches.