The most tweeted about political event in U.S history occurred Wednesday night as President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took the stage for their first debate. The Twitter landmark isn't shocking -- more people are gaining access to the Internet, getting Twitter accounts and finding easy ways to engage in political talk.
Twitter feeds around the country continuously scrolled during the 90-mintue debate. Trends emerged in-step with the candidates' responses. Romney mentions Big Bird, and suddenly the yellow Sesame Street character is trending and a @FiredBigBird account is created. Jim Lehrer is spoken over one too many times, and quips on Lehrer losing the debate roll in. The trends show that Americans have much in common; we care about the same things.
Our opinions may stray and our philosophies differ, but if you let us choose between Simpson-Bowles and Big Bird, we take the flightless bird every time.
A quick survey of what Americans talked about on Twitter during the debate shows that while politics is serious business with serious consequences, there's space for humor. Here are five trends from the Denver debate:
1. J is for Jokes:
Shorter Mitt: I love coal. I will fire Big Bird. Children can learn math by counting lumps of coal. #debates
-- Steve Weinstein (@steveweinstein) October 4, 2012
My kids, out of bed and stumbling blearily to the living room: "Did something happen to Big Bird?!"
-- Omar L. Gallaga (@omarg) October 4, 2012
Funniest part of this debate's mind numbing economic talk is that twitter exploded over Romney saying he'd eliminate PBS's Big Bird.
-- Barry Green (@BSG) October 4, 2012
2. Wait, these guys know math?
Dodd-Frank and Simpson-Bowles have both been mentioned tonight.Nerd debate. #debates
-- The Fix (@TheFix) October 4, 2012
Who are these two guys having a serious discussion about policy? What have they done with the dudes in the TV ads?!
-- Scott Conroy (@RealClearScott) October 4, 2012
3. I hate politics and so should you
Your Twitter rant on the debate changed my mind on who I will vote for... said no one ever... (via @bcuban)
-- Steve Heath (@steveheath) October 4, 2012
Stop tweeting about politics it's annoying. I try to avoid it, you should too. That's why we don't talk about these things #confrontation
-- Bruce (@BaltimoreBruce) October 4, 2012
4. Jim Lehrer haters
Jim Lehrer: "There's a coin toss. Let me just find the coin. Where is that thing? No, that's a quarter. Don't wanna use that. Hm."
-- VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) October 4, 2012
I know what to buy Jim Lehrer for his birthday -- a clock. #DEBATE
-- Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) October 4, 2012
5. Tweeting responses to candidates' comments Yelling at the TV
Hey Mittens, If Trickle Down Government doesn't work then, by your logic, then neither does Trickle Down Economics.#Obama #Debates
-- Kyle R. Trentham (@k_tizz) October 4, 2012
RT @bobholt: Oh no, Obama! If history has shown us anything, it's that the American people don't care about math OR common sense! #factcheck
-- B.K. DeLong (@bkdelong) October 4, 2012
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