We have now reached a tipping point, where social media has changed how debates are conducted, prepared for, judged and spun.
Dan Pfeiffer, CNN, Sept 15 2015

ince the first televised debate between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon, debates have followed a formulaic approach. Candidates  will try to look good and avoid making mistakes. But the introduction of social media shakes up the tired dynamic, making the debates more active for the audience. The two-screen experience has turned the televised debates into a real time analysis of the candidates’ substance and style. Thoughts and opinions are uploaded in real time from experts and the general public. The introduction of social media also changes how the campaigns are run. The ability to go viral can help a candidate tremendously, and has been one of the keystones of both Bernie Sanders’ and Donald Trump’s success. But this strategy can backfire, and a candidate can quickly become an object of ridicule through SoundBits, memes and vines. Twitter has also become “The New Spin Room,” where both reporters and citizens analyze the debate and decide on a winner. Lastly, social media has made the first 20 minutes very important. The initial impact a candidate makes will reverberate the whole night on Twitter and Facebook, and early analysis becomes reality for social media users. The introduction of social media to live debate may make some traditional media gatekeepers cringe, but the media is democratizing itself, and the public has a chance to integrate themselves into the political process.

Get in deeper:

Social Networking is Revolutionizing Politics || ABC News

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There were nearly 2 million mentions of the debate on social media.Claire Zillman, Fortune, Sept 17, 2015

Social media has become more important than ever for the crowded field of candidates vying to become president, and the campaigns battle for prominence on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.Angela Moon, Reuters, Sept 17, 2015

But while social media is a powerful tool for collecting questions from the public, it hasn’t made the process more democratic. That’s because traditional media outlets still limit the public’s impact.Diane Stirling, Infospace, August 6, 2015
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