The first Republican Presidential Debate to feature all of the candidates was held last night in New Hampshire. Two notable things happened last night - It was the debate premiere of early front-runner Mitt Romney and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann used her opening statements to declare her official candidacy.
Apart from these two events, the seven candidates talked health care, immigration, abortion, gay marriage and the whole range of topics one would expect in a televised debate. CNN broadcast the debate and host John King ended every segment with what he called a "this or that" question. We learned that Tim Pawlenty favors Coke over Pepsi and former Godfather's pizza chair Herman Cain prefers Chicago-style deep dish to NY-style thin crust.
With all personal politics aside, any early presidential debate, of either party, serves as a barometer for public opinion. It gives voters an initial glimpse at the candidates and shapes the media narrative for the upcoming campaign. It's impossible to predict the outcome of the primary right now but "global popularity engine" Likester is at it again, this time tackling the 2012 elections.
Likester is a startup that analyzes Facebook data, specifically "likes," to determine popularity trends across the social channel. This year they hosted "Likester Idol," where each week they analyzed changes in the amount of Facebook likes for each contestant and made elimination predictions based on those results. They had a pretty good prediction record and ended up picking Scotty McCreery as the winner six weeks before the finale.
This time, Likester is looking to predict something "more meaningful," they say. Their goal is to predict the eventual 2012 Republican nominee, and they kicked off their analysis with last night's debate results.
The post debate analysis is in! All seven declared major Republicans were present, and the results of the data is below. We plan on updating this page bi-weekly, so please check back every few weeks for the latest.
So who won the debate according to Likester? Mitt Romney, as he garnered 19,658 new likes on Facebook from his performance. He is the overall like leader with just under 1 million. Michele Bachmann, who ranks 3rd in overall likes, finished second by gaining 9,232 new likes. Ron Paul, who ranks 2nd in overall likes, finished 3rd in the debate by adding 8,717 new likes.
Of course, a presidential primary may be a little tougher to predict than American Idol, but it's possible that social media clout will play a huge role in determining the winner. Facebook played such a huge part in the 2008 election, there is no reason to think that popularity on the social media site won't be an indicator of the outcome of this race.
Who do you think won the debate? Who looked like a strong candidate? Romney, Pawlenty, Bachmann? Or did no candidate look good at all? Let us know what you think.