Vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz drew lavish praise from mainstream media outlets and prominent liberals on Twitter, and heavy criticism from tweeting conservatives who perceived her to be biased toward Biden.
Given the earlier discussion of whether Jim Lehrer was an ineffectual referee of the first presidential debate, a trend seems to be emerging. After the candidates debate each other, the public debates the merits of the moderator.
The Raddatz question clearly mattered to influential political tweeters, but we wondered if it extended to the rest of the social-media universe. Has the quality of the moderation become a big deal to the social masses?
Apparently so. We ran what’s called a "topic analysis" on the tweets and public Facebook posts about the VP debate, to see how much of the overall conversation focused on Biden, Ryan and Raddatz respectively. We used an algorithm that pulled out not just literal mentions of each, but related remarks that didn’t necessarily reference them by name. The results are shown in the graph below, with key spikes highlighted.
Biden drew the most commentary by far, much of it about his mannerisms and aggressiveness, which many called rude but others praised. Raddatz and Ryan drew comparable levels of discussion at many points, but overall Raddatz was talked about 10% more than Ryan. And tellingly, the day after the debate, Raddatz was still trending on Twitter along with Biden, while Ryan had vanished from the trending list. If this continues, who knows, moderators might eventually form their own party and run for president themselves.