Donald Trump may have the most Twitter followers and be the most quotable man among Republican presidential contenders, but the real estate mogul didn’t register the most viral moments during Wednesday night’s GOP debate on CNBC.
Instead, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former surgeon Ben Carson pulled through as the top searched candidates during the main debate. Rubio also claimed the most spikes and the highest peak in search traffic during the entirety of the debate -- with the greatest interest following his closing remarks.
“We can’t just save the American dream, we can expand it,” Rubio said to close the more than two-hour event. Those final remarks also followed Rubio's discussion of health care and a personal comment about his mother that also resonated.
My mother's on Medicare and Social Security. I'm against anything that's bad for my mother.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 29, 2015
— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) October 29, 2015
Search traffic for Carson surged midway through the debate when he said, “Never give away the values and principles that made America into a great nation for the sake of political correctness.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz broke through with his comment on the mainstream media. “The questions being asked shouldn't be trying to get people to tear into each other. It should be what are the substantive answers,” Cruz had said. That moment generated a spike in Twitter posts and also helped Cruz overtake the search traffic on Google.
The clear winner of the night online also took a jab to the media. Rubio’s campaign team who ran his Twitter account posted the quote from the stage, “The Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC. It’s called the mainstream media.”
The next most popular moment on Twitter came from Rubio and Jeb Bush discussing Rubio’s voting record on the Senate. Bush criticized Rubio's absenteeism, and Rubio shot back that Bush was doing so only to help his own campaign.
Even though Carly Fiorina had the most talk-time -- estimated at 10 minutes and 26 seconds, according to Politico -- the former Hewlett-Packard CEO failed to garner significant traction online.
Rubio leveraged his digital dominance by pitching for online campaign donations via a link to Twitter fundraising page powered by mobile payment company Square Inc.
Where’s Trump Twitter?
Trump took the third spot in the most searched candidates on Google, followed by Cruz, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and lastly Mike Huckabee. Yet Trump failed to generate any significant spikes in traffic until the closing of the debate.
The reality-show Republican did pull through on capturing the most share of the conversation on Twitter with 22.2 percent compared to Cruz at 14.5, Carson at 12.6 percent, Rubio at 12.3 percent and Bush at 11.3 percent, according to Twitter. However, that percentage was a significant drop from the last debate where Trump pulled in 37 percent of the Twitter conversation.
Trump also had the most-retweeted post of the night that was posted right before the debate.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2015
Though often prolific on Twitter, Trump chose not to tweet during the entirety of the campaign. The decision follows in a scandal that involved Trump blaming a “young intern” for a retweet.