The opinion that Romney won the presidential debate last Wednesday has now changed completely, as views in social media now reflect a common theme: many of Romney’s arguments weren’t factual.
Using a computer-aided analysis, NBCPolitics assessed over 1.3 million social media comments regarding the presidential debate. Results reveal that over time, the initial opinion that Romney won has now alleviated.
Before the start of the debate, Romney’s supporters predicted that Pres. Obama will win the debate even if Romney does a better job, suggesting a media bias.
However, the aftermath of the debate saw television commentators and analysts talking about how the president had lost. Bill Hobbs, who describes himself as a “Christian conservative, photographer, media consultant, entrepreneur,” tweeted that:
“I predicted the media would declare Obama won the debate even if he lost it. But his beatdown by Romney was so epic they can’t spin it.”
As practically everyone in traditional media agreed that Obama lost, this consensus was resonated in social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. NBCPolitics used ForSight, a data platform tool used to measure public opinion in social media.
The day after the debate, social media opinion was that Obama lost to Romney because he was being passive and wasn’t attacking Romney as often as he should have. Even as people tweeted or commented about Obama, the context was that he lost to Romney.
On the other hand, even during the minutes after the presidential debate, there were already some who questioned the “facts” that Romney presented.
In fact, by Thursday afternoon, more and more netizens cited fact-checkers from both political supporters and relatively impartial commentators. For example, Think Progress, the liberal blog, commented on Thursday morning that:
“Pundits from both sides of the aisle have lauded Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance, praising his preparedness and ability to challenge President Obama’s policies and accomplishments. But Romney only accomplished this goal by repeatedly misleading viewers. He spoke for 38 minutes of the 90 minute debate and told at least 27 myths.”
Obama’s supporters were then quick to point out that Romney was a liar, and some even tweeted that some of these lies can be debunked by facts that are presented even in Romney’s own website.
As such, by Friday, the online gush has now favored Obama. The conversation topics for Romney now reflect such subjects as: “Romney Lied,” “Lies,” “Romney Won Lies,” and others. Also, according to Michael O. Allen, assistant director of communications at Service Employees International Union,
“A truly remarkable phenomenon. Shape-shifting, shedding skins faster than a snake, the Mitt Romney on the debate stage Wednesday night is a man no one knows. That, certainly, was not the man who won the Republican nomination. You could still see the nastiness peeking under the collar, his true self bursting to get out. But he held it in check by being exuberantly obnoxious, spouting one lie after the other. The lies are so voluminous it is going to take us until election day disentangling them.”
The moral of the story is that Facebook and Twitter can be used effectively to distribute opinion after some time has been used really analyzing the news, really looking at what happened even after traditional media has already shared its verdict.