Twitter lights up as presidential debate turns to China, immigration

Second presidential debate between Obama, Romney brings in more than 7M tweets

Several topics raised in Tuesday night's presidential debate caused such a stir on Twitter that they actually overwhelmed the site.

Once again, Twitter users were tweeting about the lively debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney while the two men sparred for nearly 90 minutes at Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island.

The political faceoff lit up Twitter, which reported more than 7.2 million tweets during the second of three scheduled presidential debates. Twitter also noted that 3.5 million of those debate-related tweets were made in the first hour of the event.

During the first presidential debate On Oct. 3, Twitter saw about 10 million tweets, making it the most tweeted U.S. political event ever.

Last week's debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan brought in more than 4 million tweets, 3.5 million of them coming during the 90-minute debate.

Last night, several issues gained a lot of steam on Twitter. The microblogging site was slow to load or didn't load at all for several minutes at a time after the candidates sparred on issues including China, immigration and women's health care.

Twitter reported after the debate that comments peaked on the site at 109,560 tweets per minute when Romney answered a question on immigration. The second highest peak came at 108,000 tweets per minute when Obama said to his opponent, "You're the last person to get tough on China."

Various hashtags and debate-related words also showed up in Twitter's list of top Trends. Candy Crowley, a CNN journalist and moderator of the debate, made Twitter's top Trends for most of the evening. China and Bill Clinton also frequently were listed. Big Bird also made another appearance this week.

Twitter has gained increasing importance in this 2012 presidential election season. Users tweeted their comments while watching the debates and different political camps tweeted about the debate as it went on.

Politicians also have used Facebook, and Google+, though the social media focus during the fast-moving debates largely is on Twitter.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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