Introducing Curated Lists: Tracking the Republican Response to the Democratic Debates

On Saturday night, like so many others across the country, I sat down in front of the TV, weary at the prospect of the second Democratic Debate.

It had been a long 24 hours—the world had barely begun mourning the lives lost in Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris. While the fog that obscured the world’s understanding of those tragic events (and the organization behind it) had begun to clear, the air remained thick with uncertainty. What now? Where will this happen next? And, maybe the most potent of all, How do we stop it from happening again?

There was no question, however, that these events would play a starring role in the debate. Throughout the day on Saturday, news network after news network predicted how CBS would alter their strategy, and what each candidate would say.

I was interested to know how these predictions would pan out during the debate, so I decided to follow the democratic conversation on Twitter in Spredfast Intelligence.

The problem was, I didn’t just want to know what each Democratic candidate was saying—I was also determined to understand the Republican candidates’ responses to the debate. Enter: Curated Lists in Spredfast Intelligence.

For the last few months, the Intelligence team has been hard at work creating pre-defined lists, or audiences, that will allow users (like myself) to monitor any conversation by a specific group of people or filter a search topic for content published only by those people on Twitter.

From the moment moderator John Dickerson opened the debate with a moment of silence, I began tracking the Republican candidates’ conversation around #DemDebate using my handy Republican Presidential Candidates Curated Twitter List.

In Intelligence’s Social Recall, or “live mode,” I was able to follow the conversation in real time, minute-by-minute.

Not only did this view allow me to see which Republican candidates were tweeting at the exact moment they tweeted, I was also able to see a comprehensive view of their participation in the #DemDebate conversation over time. (Clearly, Mike Huckabee had a lot to say between 8:18 pm and 8:24 pm.)

Whereas before, I would have had to create separate searches for each candidate’s mention of #DemDebate during the time the Democratic Debate aired, Curated Lists allowed me to filter my search results at the click of a button. This allowed me to spend less time locating the data I was interested in, and more time focusing on the debate itself.

As expected, topics related to Friday’s attacks (read: foreign policy, national security, and gun violence) quickly took center stage. Next, instead of using the Curated List as a filter, I searched Intelligence by the Curated List itself, looking to track all activity (not just those tweets including #DemDebate) by Republican candidates during the debate.

Not surprisingly, the largest spike in the Republican conversation over the course of the debate occurred during Clinton’s answer to Dickerson’s “Radical Islam” question:

  • "Marco Rubio, also running for president, said that this attack in Paris showed that we are at war with radical Islam. Do you agree with that characterization: radical Islam?”

Because I was assessing the conversation generated only by Republican Presidential candidates, I was quickly able to see the top terms related to the candidates’ responses to Hillary’s answer, the top tweets among the candidates, and the candidates’ most engaging media.

As the debate continued into its second hour, the participants’ focus gradually shifted to other highly-contentious topics of interest, such as the economy and health care.

Below, you’ll see the top terms related to the entire two-hour event among all Republican candidates... well as the top terms related to the debate among the Democratic participants.

While the Democrats' primary focus during the debate seemed to revolve around Wall Street, Gun Violence, and Minimum Wage, the Republicans remained highly focused on Paris and national security, as well as Obamacare.

Finally, I leveraged the Curated Lists—Republican Presidential Candidates and Democratic Presidential Candidates—to assess which party had the larger Share of Voice within the #DemDebate conversation.

Surprisingly, the Twitter conversation was controlled almost equally by the two parties. (Compare this to Tuesday’s GOP Debate, where the Republicans tweeted almost six times as much as the Democrats during the two hours during, before and after the debate.)

Since Saturday, a new debate has emerged: instead of politicians debating the merits of raising taxes or reassessing the way Wall Street does business, people around the world—media, politicians and the general public, alike—are trying to understand the role social media has in international affairs.

While it’s undeniable there’s value in understanding what conversations are taking place outside of social, it’s also undeniable that social is the most immediate (and direct) connection to a desired audience. In the 24 hours following the attacks in Paris, more than four million people marked themselves as “Safe” using Facebook’s Safety Check feature, and over 9.5 million tweets were sent out mentioning #PrayforParis or #porteouverte. Since Friday, over half a million people posted to Instagram with the tag #PrayforParis, showing their solidarity and sending support from as far as Santiago, Tokyo, and Nouméa.

Currently, Spredfast Intelligence’s Curated Lists feature focuses on Twitter conversations because of the nature of Twitter as a communication platform. Twitter is a platform where news breaks and people react publicly, whether it’s from Tahrir square in Egypt, Ferguson, Missouri, or the heart of one of the world's most storied cities. We’re excited to continue to add new, custom lists to our platform and look forward to hearing about the innovative ways our customers are leveraging this feature.

Want to know more? Feel free to contact us. Spredfast Intelligence customers can access this exciting new functionality right now.

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Alexis is a Product Marketing Manager, leading go-to-market strategy and developing campaigns for the Spredfast platform. One of the few (but very proud) native Austinites, Alexis is a die-hard longhorn fan and firmly believes mashed potatoes do NOT belong in Breakfast Tacos (don’t even get her started on the breakfast “wrap”). In her free time, Alexis enjoys live music, adventuring and tweeting about all things sports and social.