Last night's first presidential debate of 2012 set a record on Twitter as the most tweeted-about event in U.S. politics. More than 10 million tweets were made in the 90 minutes of back-and-forth between President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney and peaked at 2,615 tweets per second when moderator Jim Lehrer quipped "Let's not" to Romney's request for another topic.
Numbers mean little on their own. Is 2,615 tweets per second a lot? Compared with Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention held last month, it is. Obama set a new record for political moments on Twitter with 879 tweets per second that was smashed by last night's pace.
Even the 2012 Olympics fell far short of last night's rates. Usain Bolt's Olympic Twitter conversation record following his 200-meter victory generated only half the tweets of last night's peak.
Other sports moments over the past year dwarf even Olympic and political records. For instance, when Spain scored the winning goal against Italy in the 2012 European Championship on July 1, tweets soared to more than 15,000-per-second.
But U.S. presidential debates have less appeal to an international audience. Twitter's 140 million U.S. users make up about 28 percent of its total active users, so perhaps a U.S. event would make a fairer comparison. During the last minute of Super Bowl XVLI, when the New York Giants scored a touchdown to defeat the New England Patriots 21-17, fans tweeted at 10,245 per second. Or how about the Video Music Awards ? The top spot at 8,869 tps is still held by Beyoncé, who revealed her baby bump at the 2011 awards show.
No matter how you look at it, politics has a long way to go before it hits the top of Twitter charts.
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