Round-Up: Three Questions That Didn’t Change the GOP Debate

CNN and Facebook, hosts of last night's Republican debate, took pre-recorded questions and engaged viewers with polls and emojis. Plus, is social media improving the debate experience?


-1There was no first-time-ever-for-a-digital-audience moment, as there was during the previous Democratic debate, but CNN and Facebook, hosts of last night’s #GOPdebate, took advantage of several interactive tools—plus emojis.

CNN touted the “thousands” of people who stepped inside the cross-country Campaign Camper to record video questions for the candidates and the “millions” who weighed in on Facebook.

How many questions made it into the debate? Three.

While it was good to include different (and younger) voices, and the questions pushed the candidates for more nuance on their positions on refugees, military action against ISIS and how to deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the use of “regular people” mainly reinforced the debate narrative. We need a more direct form of public engagement to drive different questions and to elicit more informative answers.

During the debate, viewers were encouraged to go to CNN’s Facebook page to vote on such questions as “What’s the greatest threat to U.S. security?” and “Did Trump do a good job defending his plan to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.?” Facebook users could also answer “How are you feeling about the debate right now?” by selecting the appropriate smiley face, ranging from angry to excited (complete with double hearts!).

CNN-Facebook how are you feeling the debates

Sanders Trumps Trump:  CBS and Twitter, which teamed up for last month’s Democratic debate, worked together again last night, with Twitter providing real-time insights on CBSnews.com.

Here’s the final analysis of the debate conversation, which Donald Trump won, the largest follower growth, which Sen. Bernie Sanders won (!), and the most tweeted moment—a not-compliment from Trump to Bush. For more on the debate and the many mentions of the internet, read today’s First Post at Civicist.

Plus: Are Twitter and Facebook improving the debate experience? “It depends,” writes Callum Borchers in the Washington Post. “That is, of course, a well-rehearsed non-answer. But you should probably be used to that, given that’s the kind of answer Bill from Reno and Susan from Carson City could very well elicit.”

U.S. Debate Viewership Soars: Meanwhile, nearly 7 in 10 adults (69 percent) say they have watched at least some of the televised debates, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. That number is up from 43 percent in December 2007, the last time we saw contested nominations in both parties.

Almost two-thirds of viewers (65 percent) say the debates have been helpful in learning about the candidates. That finding is consistent among all age groups, though young adults under 30 are less likely than older adults to have watched a debate (58 percent compared to 72 percent).

Just over half (51 percent) of debate viewers have found the debates “fun to watch”—with liberal Democrats (57 percent) and conservative Republicans (59 percent) enjoying the debates the most. Yet only about a third (34 percent) say the campaign has “focused on important policy debates,” while 58 percent told Pew it has not. View the full report.

It May Never End: Donald Trump last night said he is “totally committed to the Republican Party,” but if he changes his mind again, he could remain part of the presidential debate field. If Trump makes an independent run, he would need to draw at least 15 percent support in national polls, writes Angela Grieling Keane at Bloomberg. The same goes for Sen. Bernie Sanders, though he has been consistent about not running as an independent.

“Fifteen percent in this crazy year we’re in, it’s not entirely inconceivable that someone may come along,” said Mike McCurry, co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates. “Our job is to make sure the candidates Americans are considering for president are there on the stage.”

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