Twitter Presidential Debates: Sept 26

UPDATE: McCain has committed to join.

Why: Why let the media pundits and political analysts have all the fun? You can now be an armchair critic, all you need is a twitter account, a TV, and internet access.

[On the first Presidential Debate on Sept 26, 2008, YOU get to be the armchair political analyst and use Twitter to score the candidates]

What is it: With the success of the previous Twitter SuperBowl ads rating last Jan, let’s repeat this community based voting event for the upcoming presidential debates, this time, you’re in charge.

9PM Eastern. September 26, 2008: Presidential debate with domestic policy focus, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS. More details available from the commission of Presidential Debate.

You’re the judge! In your opinion, score points to the two candidates and tweet it

A) Score the candidates ability to debate
Using twitter, you can score the candidates with this handy scoring guide.

-3 for a personal attack
-2 for a false statement
-1 for avoiding the issue, or not answering the question
+1 for a successful assertion
+2 for a successful counterpoint to opponents assertion
+3 Quotable sound bite

B) Use Twitter to tell the world (use the hash tag)

Example: A proper tweet is: “Mccain +1 for articulating his energy policy #tweetdebate”

Example: A proper tweet is: “Obama -3 for calling McCain an old fart #tweetdebate”

Example: A proper tweet is: “Mccain +3 for great line: “It’s the economy stupid” #tweetdebate”

C) See what everyone else is saying

A good practice is to open another tab on your browser, and watch what others are saying on twitter search, tagged with the keyword #tweetdebate.

D) After the Debate, Tally your score, then leave a comment
At the end of the debate, count up your score, your twitter handle, then leave a comment on this post.
Tip: Enter your score into a spreadsheet in real time, saving you time to tally.

My twitter handle is

Obama scored a total +25 and McCain scored a total of +26

Then create a percentage: Obama scored 49% and Mccain 51%

Then soak in your glory of being a true armchair political analyst (and argue the scoring of the other twitter pundits)

Future Debates: Come back to this site for discussions

  • October 2, 2008: Vice Presidential debate, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
  • October 7, 2008: Presidential debate in a town hall format, Belmont University, Nashville, TN
  • October 15, 2008:Presidential debate with foreign policy focus, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
  • Despite that I work at a research firm, this event is entirely for entertainment, and some education, and won’t be used in any formal studies –have fun.

    Input from Zack Reiss-Davis

    Post Event Findings:
    The game started out with folks scoring as suggested above, but soon, the scoring became pretty lax, then many just used it as a way to track conversations. Current TV was showing tweets live on TV, which at one point, overwhelmed their system, resulting in no tweets showing. Twitter’s infrastructure withstood the onslought –I think they’re finally starting to see their opportunity as a major communication device.

    We started out strong scoring the sound bytes and assertions, but soon the threshold to score became too difficult. I suspect folks were also interested in Current TV, The Drinking Game, the Friendfeed debate room, or just used the tweetdebate tag to track all their responses. In any case it was all good –watching any event is no longer a lonely event –we participate and mainstream media is watching and adopting.

    tweetdebateA graph indicating the frequency of the term “#tweetdebate”

    51 Replies to “Twitter Presidential Debates: Sept 26”

    1. Outstanding idea! Perhaps a more democratic version of political punditry than what you’d see on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, or any other media. I participated in the Super Bowl ad tweetup, so why not this one? Looking forward to it.

    2. Great idea! You should probably add that people put their political leanings in the tweet so that you can segment the data set by M (McCain), O(Obama), or U(Undecided). Will probably find some interesting and divergent data based on this segmentation.

    3. Smart thinking!

      I am in 100% agreement with Maigari, although I don’t know if that would prevent the masses from ‘pretending’ to be from one side or the other, just to skew the results – of course that could happen in any community type poll…

      Just the same, I’m in!

    4. Brilliant, Jeremiah. I will try to do this, but I promised a live blog for my online community so I’ll have to watch that closely as well. Now if I could somewhow incorporate the two. Hmmm….

    5. Excellent idea; however, I’m expecting the results to be quite skewed towards the left judging from your previous FF political experiment. Would be much more interesting if you started on an even playing field.

    6. How many points do we record per Fail Whale?

      Anyone going to open a Room on Friendfeed “just in case”?

    7. Great idea! I’m currently living in the Philippines and hope CNN International will air it live. It will be good to escape the chains of the political pundits.

      Do I detect a light bias for McCain in your post? Hmmmm…. not like a northern Californian at all!

    8. I fear the Twitter pool is deeper on the left than on the right, and the whole enterprise is too easy to game.

      The real fun for participants will be the side debates about “How could you give that a +2???”

      That could generate interesting discussions, but I can’t accept it yet as an objective meter.

    9. Point of clarification and one minor rant, you decide which:

      1. Is 9:00 p.m. Eastern actually 6:00 p.m. Pacific or is it the typical tape-delayed-but-pretend-it’s-live 9:00 p.m. Pacific? They are never clear about this….and, yes, it does make a difference.

      2. What is it with the southern locations (not counting NY)? Is there only one corner of the continental U.S. (not even getting into the Alaska/Hawaii issues)? Does anyone on the east coast get the fact that California is the most populous state with the largest individual GDP (and one of the largest in the world)?

      Oh, and I’m from Oregon, where getting any respect from the feds is hopeless, so I don’t expect that for our little corner of federal mismanagement and neglect.

    10. Unfortunately, you’re way off with this game as the rules you set up are highly objectionable and far from fair and scientific. Example?

      Whether a statement is true or false is ethically more important than whether an attack was personal or not. So you should switch the points.

      Further, your scale is too much based on rhetoric rather than content. Whether rhetoric was good or bad is always debatable, but whether something is true or wrong isn’t (don’t get me started with that “God created Eve of a rib of Adam” nonsense).

      So change the rules:

      +1 for any true statement
      -1 for any false statement

      sum it up at the end.

      Much easier and much better rules.

    11. and by the way:

      “I hope folks try to be fair and objective, that is after all what the debates are supposed to do “to get to the heart of the matter.”

      how can we, if already the rules aren’t fair and objective?

    12. Further you should take into account the kind of readership you and your blog attract.

      You can call the results of this game representative for those of your readership who took part in this game, but don’t call it representative for ANYTHING else.

      As a market researcher, you should be aware of this. Else I’d probably hire you as a spin-doctor, but certainly not as a researcher.

    13. Abygail

      Thanks for this, you make some good points, and help point out why I wrote this line in the post above:

      “this event is entirely for entertainment, and some education, and won™t be used in any formal studies “have fun.”

    14. I’ll be drunk, and won’t be able to count. Because I’ll be having a shot anytime someone says ‘change’ or ‘my friends’.

    15. ** Shameless plug alert **

      It seems like what you are trying to do here is what we have also been up to. See our page on 2008 Presidential Debate on National Security and Foreign Policy –

      We have extended – our social collaboration solution for trusted groups – to have a twitter-enabled participation in the presidential debate. The Twitter page can be seen at:

      We welcome you to try our site ..

    16. The idea I just previously submitted gives people the option to either score the debate as you suggested, and/or score it as a general summary, using the one liner above: “McCain = 35%, Obama = 65% – #tweetdebate general results.”

    17. I tallied my score obama +10, Mccain +5.

      It’s very clear who won in my perspective. I find tallying a good way to keep track, as 1:45 hours of debates is hard to track

    18. I think this idea is awesome. Why not use an outlet that our generation thrives on. I think this can make or break candidates and definitely make marks in the minds of many. I remember how people said using television changed how voters felt about candidates, I wonder what waterfall effect this will have on future debates or elections.
      In my mind, it was be smart for McCain and Obama to use this information to see where they are held in the eyes of the public and what they could change or make better before actual elections are held.
      I feel like this is a system that will be around for a while, and will grow in the future. Our voices are going to be heard in a totally different way. Why not use that to our advantage?

    Comments are closed.