As Marco Rubio competed with the other six top GOP presidential contenders on the debate stage in New Hampshire, many of his statements and confrontations fell flat. Despite his less than stellar performance, Rubio gained a lot of Twitter followers during the debate. Generating strong social media buzz is obviously a good sign for the Republican, and could mean that the debate won't have a negative effect on his chances in the New Hampshire primaries and his overall bid for the White House.
According to Twitter Government, Rubio gained the second most Twitter followers as the debate was happening, after only Donald Trump. The real estate tycoon, who's consistently ranked number one in Republican polls across the country, has a robust (and controversial) Twitter presence, so it's not surprising that he continuously draws more followers during debates. Rubio, on the other hand, doesn't always attract a large number of new followers while on stage. Ranking second this time around shows that he still reached Americans, even though he lost the debate pretty badly. Of course, Twitter followers don't necessarily translate into votes in the primaries or even the general election, but they proves that he's still relevant and voters care enough about him to seek out his social media accounts.
On top of gaining the second most follower, Rubio was also the subject of 20 percent of conversations with the hashtag #GOPDebate, second to Trump's 33 percent. Cruz came in third in terms of Twitter mentions and fourth in new followers, which shows a bit of a lull in his appeal after his big win in the Iowa caucuses on Monday.
Cruz, Trump, and Rubio all seemed to maintain their standing in the top three, as confirmed in Iowa, though Chris Christie had a surprisingly good night, winning the debate and gaining more Twitter followers than Cruz. Christie attacked Rubio multiple times Saturday night, but only time will tell if his attempts will actually hurt Rubio's campaign. There's always the possibility that some of Rubio's attention on Twitter was negative in response to his feuds with Christie, but Rubio's performance on Twitter could counteract his performance on the stage. After all, if one bad debate ruined every candidate's bid for the presidency, there wouldn't be many candidates left.
Tracking which candidates and what moments people talked about on Twitter provides a lot of insight into how voters watching from home felt about the presidential debate. Apparently, they liked Rubio.