Kamala Harris emerges from debate as Twitter victor

Data: Sprout Social; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

After Kamala Harris' pointed criticism of Joe Biden in Thursday night's debate, there were more tweets about her than any other Democratic presidential candidate and those tweets generated more interactions, according to data provided to Axios by Sprout Social.

Why it matters: “That demonstrates interest, and not just interest among social media users," Democratic strategist Ian Russell tells Axios. "The same things that drove the engagement on social media also will lead to at least a modest uptick in polling for those candidates.”

What's going on: Tweets mentioning Harris' Twitter handle generated 23% more interactions — including likes, comments and retweets— than those about Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the next closest Democrat.

Despite being put on the defensive about South Bend's police shooting, Buttigieg generated the second-most interactions and had the most interactions per tweet about him.

  • The other winner: Julián Castro generated the highest totals in relation to his place in the polls — 11th, per Real Clear Politics.
  • The loser: Biden's 5th place in interactions was the worst compared to his polling position (1st).

Demographic breakdown, per Sprout Social:

Highest proportion of interactions by men:

  1. Andrew Yang — 71%
  2. Tulsi Gabbard — 62%

Highest proportion of interactions by women:

  1. Amy Klobuchar — 56%
  2. Julián Castro — 55%

Highest proportion among age 18-24:

  1. Andrew Yang — 43%
  2. John Hickenlooper — 40%

Highest proportion among age 55+:

  1. Tim Ryan — 39%
  2. Amy Klobuchar — 34%

What's next: We'll see how much movement in the polls comes out of this debate. It will be telling for how much we can rely on post-debate buzz to be a barometer for impact on public opinion.

The bottom line: "A candidate who’s getting buzz and getting engagement online is likely to see a bump in fundraising and a bump in polling," Russell says.

Note: These figures do not account for bot activity.

Go deeper: Which 2020 candidates are generating the most social media attention

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