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Social media chatter during this week’s vice-presidential debate was overwhelmingly negative toward both candidates—and those negative feelings carried over to the presidential candidates.

Looking at specific issues, Republican nominee Mike Pence got a more positive response than Democratic nominee Tim Kaine when the topic was the economy. But Kaine got a more positive response than Pence when the discussion focused on health care and immigration.

Although the argument about who won the debate continues on social media, chatter during the first 30 minutes after the debate saw #Pencewon receive seven times more mentions than #Kainewon.

Those were among the main takeaways reported by UT’s Political Social Media Research Group, led by Stuart N. Brotman, Howard Distinguished Endowed Professor of Media Management and Law and Beaman Professor of Communication and Information. The research team is composed of students enrolled in Brotman’s graduate political communication seminar. The students used sophisticated social media monitoring software to analyze public sentiment during the first presidential debate and this week’s vice-presidential debate.

The wrap up report is available online.

The group will monitor social media during the remaining presidential debates (October 9 and 19) and on election night (November 8). They will post real-time analysis on their social media platforms and issue end-of-night reports for all these events.

Get the Political Social Media Research Group’s analysis by following it on:

  • Twitter (@PSMRG_UTK)
  • Facebook (The Political Social Media Research Group)
  • Instagram (@psmrg_utk)
  • Medium (PSMRG)

The Political Social Media Research Group is based in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media in UT’s College of Communication and Information. The group is using the college’s new state-of-the-art Adam Brown Social Media Command Center to monitor various social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and Instagram, to spot trends and flashpoints—issues that spur the most social chatter—and judge the sentiment of the chatter.

The Adam Brown Social Media Command Center uses Salesforce Marketing Cloud Social Studio—the same technology Fortune 100 companies worldwide use to publish, engage, and analyze their social media marketing activities. UT has unique access to the robust social media analytic technology required for this type of research. The center was built and is operated through a fund established for the college by Brown, an alumnus of the college who is now executive strategist for the San Francisco–based firm Salesforce.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,