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Researchers capture how Dallas and Jacksonville respond differently during the debates

To better understand how citizens in different geographic locations respond to the two presidential candidates and the debates, the Reynolds Journalism Institute Presidential Debate Twitter Team at the University of Missouri has partnered with two leading U.S. newspapers, including the Florida Times Union (Jacksonville, FL) and the Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX). In each city, the newspapers invited their readers to “live tweet” the presidential debate, allowing researchers to capture and examine how residents of a so-called “red” or Republican state (Texas), and “tossup” state (Florida) may respond differently to the debates.

Dallas

There was a large and active tweet-fest at #DMNDebate during the second Presidential debate, with 979 tweets generated in the 1 ½ hour debate.

Gas prices generated the most Twitter conversations among Dallas viewers.

President Barack Obama challenged Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s criticism that gas prices were lower when he took office versus current rates of more than $4 a gallon. “Why is that?” Obama countered. “Because the economy was on the verge of collapse. Because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression.”

Nationwide, gas prices was the second-highest topic on Twitter, according to an analysis by the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

Dallas viewers were tweeting about each candidate’s plans for tax cuts, with a spike in tweets coming when Obama charged that Romney and his “allies in Congress have held the 98 percent hostage because they want tax breaks for the top two percent.” Nationally, there was not the same kind of spike around tax cuts.

Another top issue for Dallas tweeters was enforcing trade policies with China. Romney criticized Obama for not cracking down more on currency inflation and cheap imports. Obama countered that Romney has invested in Chinese companies and exported jobs there when he ran various businesses. “Governor, you’re the last person who is going to get tough on China,” the president said.

“China steals intellectual property and hacks into our computers? Why aren’t we at war with China?” tweeted one Dallas viewer.

Twitter Activity

Dallas Twitter activity

Jacksonville

Jacksonville viewers of the second Presidential Debate were most interested in the two candidates sparring about cracking down on China’s unfair trade practices and how Republican nominee Mitt Romney tried to hire women while Massachusetts governor.

When Romney criticized President Barack Obama for not cracking down more on currency inflation and cheap imports, Obama countered that Romney has invested in Chinese companies and exported jobs there when he ran various businesses.

“China is stealing our iPhones. Give me a break,” tweeted one Jacksonville viewer.

Romney’s answer to a question on equalizing the workplace for women prompted a flurry of tweets. When filling his gubernatorial cabinet, Romney said his advisors offered only male candidates. “I went to a number of women’s groups and said: ‘Can you help us find folks?’ And they brought us whole binders full of women.”

“Hell knows no fury like women in binders,” wrote one tweeter. Jacksonville viewers were also interested in the question about how Romney differs from former President George W. Bush. Romney said, “President Bush and I are different people and these are different times.”

Obama responded with his list of differences: “Bush didn’t propose turning Medicare into a voucher. George Bush embraced comprehensive immigration reform. He didn’t call for self deportation.”

“Romney now dissing George W. Bush. You better hope Barb isn’t watching, Mitt,” said one tweeter from Jacksonville.

Nationally, tweeters talked most about the closing minutes of the debate when Obama pounced on Romney’s closed-door reference to 47 percent of Americans acting as victims.

“Think about who he’s talking about” Obama asked the town hall meeting in Hempstead, N.Y. “Folks on Social Security who have worked all their lives, veterans who have sacrificed for this country, students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country’s dreams.”

Nationwide, gas prices was the second-highest topic on Twitter, according to an analysis by the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

Analysis of sentiment of the 372 tweets to #JAXDebate showed Romney had 54 negative and four positive tweets. Obama had 15 negative and 20 positive tweets. At least for Jacksonville tweeters, Obama came out on top. Contrary to early returns on the performance of moderator Candy Crowley, Jacksonville tweeters gave her 14 negative and only two positives.

Twitter Activity

Jacksonville Twitter activity



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