Leaders TV debate: Online, Twitter & Facebook – first reactions

The Internet, including Twitter and Facebook, was certainly agog with anticipation of the first live televised leader’s debate this evening, in the run up to the General Election 2010. Before it started being broadcast on ITV, the ITV online site devoted to the programme was buzzing with people looking forward to the debate and even feeling nervous on the leaders’ behalf.

So how did it go? The ITV onscreen “worm” was shown over the live online streaming. This was measuring real-time reactions from a sample of UK voters. In the opening moments, oh dear poor Gordon, the “worm” dipped low when he started to speak, whilst for David Cameron it stayed almost neutral, and for Nick Clegg the “worm” shot up high.

On the live Facebook debate there were comments about the unsuitability of Brown’s tie and also about how dated the TV set looked, “like a 1970’s quiz show” as one viewer said. Fifteen minutes in, and the online ITV debate asked which leader was on top? Gordon Brown only polled 26%, Clegg 39% and Cameron 35%.

Meanwhile over at Twitter there were over 13,800 tweets posted in the first 15 minutes! Twenty five minute into the debate, Brown starts to relax and even cracks a gag about pictures of him smiling on Tory posters. Cue a wry smile from Cameron who looked as though he’d rather be anywhere else.

A question was asked about MP’S expenses and how could they re-establish the credibility of MP’s in the eyes of the electorate? As each candidate expressed their views the “worm” steadily rose for all three candidates as they started to get into their strides. A Twitter comment at this point caused much merriment in my household as they asked, “What number do I call to vote them off?”

By 9:15 p.m., 45 minutes in,the Tweets at Twitter were coming in at a rate of 22.55 per second. There were plenty of Tweets and comments on Facebook about the amount of make-up David Cameron was wearing and the fact that he appeared to be melting. However back to the politics and Nick Clegg was going down a storm with positive comments. It has to be said that he was the leader with the least to lose from these televised debates.

An online survey question at 9:38 p.m. comes up, now only minutes away from the end of the debate. The question is, “Who do you think is winning the debate so far?” The answers come up and nobody on Facebook or Twitter seemed surprised that Clegg is running away with this debate. He polled 60%, Brown 26% and Cameron a dismal 14%. This is not exactly the results that the Tories were expecting from Cameron.

9:42 p.m. and ITV news team member Lucy Manning says the Tory spinners are looking glum while ITV’s Angus Walker notes that Clegg’s team look happy. Taking a look at the online survey about which leader would most improve the economy, this is one area where it seems people still trust Gordon Brown. At 9:45 p.m. this poll was reading Brown 42%, Clegg 37% and Cameron 21%, yet more disappointment for the Tories.

9:46 p.m. saw the Twitter feed telling us that 113,719 tweets had been received so far. It’s amazing that a political TV programme has drawn that much debate. As the debate finishes the poll result for who is winning is an outstanding victory for Nick Clegg for the Lib Dems on 45%, with Gordon Brown doing better than at the start, finishing on 36%, and a miserable result for David Cameron finishing on only 19%.

In conclusion then, Alastair Stewart shouted a lot, David Cameron did far worse than expected, Gordon Brown held his own, while Nick Clegg was a major revelation to a lot of people. The debate as a whole was smoother and livelier than I’d feared it would be and has given politics a new excitement and a bit of drama. Ultimately it will draw more people into politics and hopefully into voting at the General Election, which can only be a good thing surely?

Did you watch the debate? We’d be interested in your comments and thoughts as to how it went for each of the leaders so please let us know.

  • http://www.sakis.co.uk/ElvisJesus.aspx Elvis Jesus

    Clegg won it for me. He's the only that seemed to properly answer any questions at any sort of level.

    Cameron's ignorance and inability to answer questions posed to him by Clegg and Brown just disgusted me.

  • Nina

    I watched the debate, and was shocked to find how quickly the time went! Nick Clegg has truly risen from the under dog to incredibly strong contender. Listening to Nick Clegg was like a breath of fresh air. Time to give him, and the Lib dems, a chance I think..

  • Terry Martin

    Well what a turn up for the books, my wife and I have voted for the tories all of our working lives, but tonights debate put Nick Clegg in the lead for us. I think he came over extremely well, and voicing our own opinions. We feel he actually left the other two in his wake. It has been a very interesting and enlightening night, and our votes can only go to help towards getting Nick into power.

  • MAURICE SPENCER

    YES NICK CLEGG DID WELL – WILL THIS MEAN MORE VOTES FOR THE LIBS DEM?
    – I DON'T THINK SO – THE BRITISH PEOPLE WILL STILL VOTE FOR THE TWO MAIN PARTIES

  • Else

    That was a debate worth watching. It looks as if the two major parties are still looking at every area with the eyes of company directors interested in the profit/loss account. They have missed the fact that people wnt to return to other values, realities and practical issues that will enable us to become a society with more humanity, honesty, fairness and ideals. Nick Clegg was the most impressive and I think the Libdems can't do any worse than the other two have done for so long. Why not give them a chance.

  • Chris Lumb

    Very disappointing anti-climax.The leaders reminded me of three football managers complaining about the other teams dirty tricks. I cringed to hear Clegg keep saying "to be honest" and our measures are "properly costed". He shouldn't behave any other way. Clegg seemed to be the most coached and rehearsed for appearing on TV
    Brown said nothing new that we don't hear on PMQs or TV interviews. In no way has he redeemed himself for the 13 years of economic misjudgement and mismanagement. He kept saying .."I"…instead of "the Labour Government". Is Labour a one man autocracy? He gave a lame excuse why we are in Afghanistan, but gave no hint of the strategy to end our presence there. He said nothing about youth unemployment. University tuition fees are a "con" if the graduates c

  • Chris Lumb

    None of the three Party leaders mentioned youth unemployment. It is a scandal to charge university students tuition fees when they can't get jobs when they graduate.
    These politicians only talk about "the economy" and not people, unless they have a useful anecdote.
    Britain is in dire financial straits.The combative nature of Party politics ensures that the best equipped people never get the job they could do best. Only Cameron referred to Parliamentary reform, and cutting out waste.
    For a number of personal reasons I will not be voting, but if I were to cast my vote, it would be for "none of the above