Thursday night’s first Republican presidential debates of the 2016 election season generated a lot of heat both on stage at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio and on social media. Google Trends was tracking which candidates were trending online both during and after the Fox News debates.
In an interactive timeline showing how each of the candidates trended in Google searches over the course of the two-hour debate, Donald Trump started out the number one trending candidate and ended at the top. A couple of times throughout the evening, Trump was briefly eclipsed by Ben Carson – first at 9:44 p.m. ET, then 10 p.m., 10:40 p.m., and finally at 10:56 p.m. – but remained the most-searched candidate overall. Former Arkansas Governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee was the candidate was searched for the least.
Throughout the evening, “education,” “taxes,” and “abortion” were the issues that generated the most searches, with education most consistently at the top of the pack. “Foreign policy” remained flatly on the bottom throughout the debate.
During the early debate that preceded the main event, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was the clear trending favorite – remaining the most-searched candidate, other than two moments when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Sen. Lindsey Graham briefly took the lead. Former Sen. Rick Santorum was the least-searched Republican candidate during the first debate.
Data that combined trending searches for all candidates from both debates reveal Fiorina ranked number 9 out of 17 candidates and Trump the most-searched overall.