Over the last two nights, 20 Democratic hopefuls took to the debate stage in Detroit to make their case to the American public. 

Following the same format we used in our last Debates Debrief blog, we examined more than 2.7 million mentions related to the Democratic debates over the last two days, again analyzing the data through our main lenses of 1) The Candidates, 2) The Media and 3) The Supporters. 

Here’s how the Internet reacted to the second round of Democratic presidential debates.

The Candidates

In our preview blog, we analyzed the breakdown of pre-debates SOV numbers. Let’s see how those numbers have changed now that this round of debates is done and dusted.

Night One

SOV numbers for each candidate are as follows –  Elizabeth Warren 28%; Bernie Sanders: 23%; Marianne Williamson: 16%; Pete Buttigieg: 11%; John Delaney: 6%; Tim Ryan 5%;  Beto O’Rourke: 5%; Amy Klobuchar: 2%; Steve Bullock 2%; and John Hickenlooper: 2%.

As expected, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (who came out swinging on healthcare throughout the evening) won the night, with self-help author Marianne Williamson getting attention for her array for comments, especially around the Flint Water Crisis. John Delaney’s standoff with Warren gave him a boost, while Beto O’Rourke and Amy Klobuchar got lost in the noise.

Night Two

SOV numbers for each candidate are as follows – Kamala Harris: 26%; Joe Biden: 18%; Tulsi Gabbard: 16%; Andrew Yang: 14%; Cory Booker: 7%; Kirsten Gillibrand: 6%; Julián Castro: 5%;  Jay Inslee 3%; Bill de Blasio: 3%; and Michael Bennet: 2%.

Although Night Two was dominated by attacks on Joe Biden from a variety of his competitors, Kamala Harris maintained her momentum and nabbed the top SOV of the night. Gabbard and Yang, who each had their say throughout the night, moved up in the rankings, while Booker, Gillibrand, de Blasio and Castro found themselves in the middle of the pack, despite trying to make noise by taking aim at Biden throughout the night.

Night One + Night Two

SOV numbers for each candidate are as follows – Elizabeth Warren: 16%; Bernie Sanders: 14%; Kamala Harris: 12%; Marianne Williamson 9%; Joe Biden 8%;  Tulsi Gabbard: 6%; Andrew Yang: 6%; Pete Buttigieg: 6%; Cory Booker 3%; John Delaney: 3%; Tim Ryan 3%; Kirsten Gillibrand: 2%; Beto O’Rourke: 2%; Julián Castro: 2%; Bill de Blasio: 2%; Jay Inslee 1%; Amy Klobuchar: 1%; Steve Bullock: 1%; John Hickenlooper: 1%.; and Michael Bennet 1%.  

While Warren, Sanders and Harris unsurprisingly took the top spots, Williamson managed to beat out favorites and standouts Biden, Gabbard, Yang and Buttigieg. Other middle-of-the-pack candidates gained ground, especially Delaney and Ryan, while O’Rourke and de Blasio fell back significantly.

The Media

Here’s a look at which five news articles held sway over the Internet during and after each debate.

Night One

  1. CNN Democratic debate night 1 | CNN
  2. Democratic Debate 2019 live updates: What to expect from 1st night | ABC News
  3. Snopes Issues Pre-Approval Of All Statements Made During Tonight’s Democratic Debate | The Babylon Bee
  4. Democratic Debate 2019: Progressives take center stage in heated exchanges | ABC News
  5. Live Analysis And Fact Check: The Democratic Primary Debate | NPR

A majority of the top five articles of the night were live update/fact-checking/recap articles, with coverage from CNN (who hosted the debates) taking the top spot. The only non-recap article to make the top five was a satirical piece from The Babylon Bee, assuring readers that everything the Democratic candidates would say over the course of the two debates was true and factual, without question.

Night Two

  1. Tusli 2020 | tulsi2020.com
  2. CNN Democratic debate night 2 | CNN
  3. 2020 Democratic Primaries | Google Trends
  4. Biden bites back: Key moments from the second Dem debate | Politico
  5. Fact check: Andrew Yang on robots displacing more workers than immigrants | CNN

CNN’s coverage of the debates again made the top five for Night Two, with only Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign page on healthcare beating it out for the top spot of the night. Edging out two more recap pieces from Politico and CNN, the third spot was claimed by a Google Trends page around the Democratic primaries, which shows trending searches in the lead up to the election.

Night One + Night Two

  1. Tusli 2020 | tulsi2020.com
  2. CNN Democratic debate night 1 | CNN
  3. 2020 Democratic Primaries | Google Trends
  4. CNN Democratic debate night 2 | CNN
  5. Biden bites back: Key moments from the second Dem debate | Politico

Unsurprisingly, our combined view shows a mix of the top articles from Night One and Night Two. CNN’s coverage of both nights claimed two spots, in addition to a piece from Politico and the Google Trends primaries page. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Tulsi Gabbard’s healthcare page claimed the top spot for most popular articles from both nights.

The Supporters 

Finally, we looked to top hashtags and top tweets to better understand initial supporter reactions to the second round of debates. 

For the Top Hashtags lists, please note that we removed generic debate hashtags (including #demdebate, #democraticdebate, #demdebate2, #cnndebate, #democraticdebate2020, #demdebates and #election2020) to better focus the lists and surface more candidate- and issue-specific hashtags.

Night One

Top Hashtags

  1. #medicareforall
  2. #beto2020
  3. #bernie2020
  4. #kag
  5. #warren2020

#medicareforall dominated Night One of the debate, in line with some of the major discussions of the night. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren saw their campaign hashtags trend throughout the night, as did Beto O’Rourke, despite his weaker showing throughout the evening. President Trump’s updated 2020 campaign slogan “KAG” or “Keep America Great,” also made an appearance. 

Top Tweets

Top tweets from Night One were dominated by Elizabeth Warren’s hallmark moment of the evening, with reactions to Marianne Williamson and (strangely) Cardi B also making an appearance.

1. Warren’s most loved quote (and tweet) of the night

2. HuffPo reporter makes a quip

3. Warren updates her popular tweet with video 

4. Actor Terrence Williams brings Cardi B into the conversation

5. TED Talks senior social media editor takes aim at Williamson

Night Two

Top Hashtags

  1. #yanggang
  2. #returnoftheyang
  3. #tulsi2020
  4. #letyangspeak
  5. #andrewyang

While Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign hashtag made an appearance, the top five hashtags of the second night of debates were primarily dominated by those related to Andrew Yang, likely buffeted by a coordinated effort on the part of his Twitter-savvy and younger fanbase. 

Top Tweets

A veritable grabbag, top tweets from Night Two include a “don’t-forget-about-me” tweet from Trump, more thoughts from Terrence Williams, self-promotion from Gabbard, thoughts from the NAACP and a shoutout to Yang.

1. President Trump puts his own spin on the night’s proceedings

2. Actor Terrence Williams chimes in again

3. Gabbard tweets out one of her bigger moments of the night

4. The NAACP chimes in – on Trump

5. MSNBC producer quotes Yang

Night One + Night Two

Top Hashtags

  1. #medicareforall 
  2. #yanggang
  3. #returnoftheyang
  4. #tulsi2020
  5. #letyangspeak

When we combined top hashtags from both nights, we found that while #medicareforall still dominated (buffeted by discussion of the topic across both nights), Andrew Yang’s supporters’ dedication to the cause helped three hashtags in his support rocket into the top five.

Top Tweets

1. Warren comes out on top…

2. …buffeted by quippy hot takes

3. NAACP also sees victory…

4. …beating out commentary from their target

5. Williamson also makes another appearance


After a long debrief, let’s run through a quick recap of the key data-driven takeaways from the second round of debates:

Candidates. Warren, Sanders and Harris maintained their top spots in SOV, while middle-of-the-pack candidates like Williamson, Delaney, Gabbard and Yang had moments that helped them rise up in the rankings, pushing down favorites like Biden, O’Rourke, Booker, Buttigieg and others.

Media. While recap-driven articles won both nights, satire, Google Trends and Tulsi Gabbard also broke through.

Supporters. Medicare For All and Andrew Yang dominated hashtags, while Elizabeth Warren took the lead in tweets. President Trump and his team, dominant in tweets and hashtags throughout the first round of debates, made much less noise this time around. 


Eager for more data-driven analysis around Election 2020? Take a look through our latest special report, Election 2020: Brands on the Ballot, to learn why the stakes are higher than ever for brands during this election cycle.

Ready to learn more about how you can leverage focused data and media analytics to build and protect your brand throughout the election? Get in touch with our team today to request a demo – and be sure to ask about our industry-first Election Pulse 2020 solution.

Be sure to also keep an eye on our Resources page, where we’ll continue to publish data-driven analyses leading up to the election. 

“Night One” analyses leverage data from 7:00pm on July 30th  to 11:00am ET on July 31st.
“Night Two” analyses leverage data from 7:00pm on July 31th  to 11:00am ET on August 1st.
“Night One + Night Two” analyses leverage data from 7:00pm on July 30th to 11:00am ET on August 1st.