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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, Fla.) and the Dallas Morning News. 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

Dallas viewers of the final presidential debate showed the most enthusiasm for the candidates’ mix of views on domestic and foreign policies, according to an analysis of Twitter by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

The debate was supposed to focus just on foreign policy, but strayed into barbs about rebuilding the American economy. “Isn’t this debate about foreign policy? So Romney foreign policy is to fix the American economy,” tweeted one Dallas viewer.

Dallas Twitter traffic was about 900 tweets, just shy of the 1,000 tweets for the last debate. This followed the national trend with 6.5 million tweets, down from 7.2 million last week.

The second highest tweeted exchange was about the importance of nation building at home, versus spending more on foreign wars. “The other thing we have to do is recognize that we can’t continue to do nation building in these regions,” President Barack Obama said. “Part of American leadership is making sure that we’re doing nation building here at home.”

The third highest Twitter conversation came about troubles in Syria. “I don’t want to have our military involved in Syria,” Governor Mitt Romney said. Obama said Romney doesn’t have different ideas because “we’re doing exactly what we should be doing to try to promote a moderate Syrian leadership.”

The fourth highest Twitter conversation came when Obama chided Romney for calling Russia the greatest security threat to America. Obama said the 1980s are “now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years. …You seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.”

The fifth highest tweet spike came near the close of the debate when Romney declared, “I love teachers,” prompting moderator Bob Schieffer to say, “I think we all love teachers.” One Dallas tweeter said: “Bob Schieffer steals the show.”

Nationally, the highest spike in tweets came when Romney challenged the president for reducing military spending, noting that the United States has fewer ships and a smaller Air Force. Obama countered, “Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them.”

“Obama just stabbed Romney with a bayonet,” tweeted one viewer.” At long last, Obama addresses bayonet policy,” wrote another.

Twitter activity

Dallas Twitter Activity — Peaks

Jacksonville

Jacksonville viewers of the final presidential debate did not light up Twitter during the Boca Raton event, with just 244 tweets to the #JAXDebate hashtag, down from nearly 500 from the third debate. The local trend reflected what went on nationally last night, with about 6.5 million tweets, down from 7.2 million a week ago.

Jacksonville tweeters did follow the national trends in the most tweeted moments, which were the sharp comebacks by President Barack Obama to his Republican challenger Governor Mitt Romney.

A sentiment analysis done by researchers at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri showed that tweets for Romney were mostly negative — 48 tweets were negative, and just one was positive. Obama’s tweets were predominantly positive with just two negatives and 20 positives.

The highest spike came when Romney challenged the president for reducing military spending, noting that the United States has fewer ships and a smaller Air Force. Obama countered, “Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them.”

The second highest spike followed Romney accusing Obama of making an “apology tour” in the Middle East shortly after he was elected. Obama replied, “Every fact checker and every reporter who has looked at it, governor, has said that it is not true.”

Obama questioned Romney’s sincerity about sanctions given his own investment track record. “You were still invested in a Chinese state oil company that was doing business with the Iranian oil sector,” Obama said. “So I’ll let the American people decide, judge, who’s going to be more effective and more credible when it comes to imposing crippling sanctions.”

The third highest spike came when the two candidates bickered and interrupted each other about whether Romney said the U.S. auto industry should go into bankruptcy. “Gov. Romney, you keep on trying to, you know, air brush history,” Obama said.

The fourth highest spike — with a peak of about 56,000 tweets in a minute — came when Obama chided Romney for calling Russia the greatest security threat to America.

A Twitter spike unique to Jacksonville was in response to exchanges about nation-building at home, versus spending money in foreign lands.

Twitter activity

Jacksonville Twitter Activity — Peaks



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