Cruz Goes Toe-to-Toe With Trump on Twitter

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He calls out debate moderators for pettiness and scores big in social media buzz.

Political marketing experts agree that donations and votes for their candidates will be won in the trenches of email inboxes this election cycle. But social media helps brand awareness, and Ted Cruz did himself proud in that regard during last night's GOP debate, generating nearly as many tweets as Donald Trump.

Cruz excited the Twittersphere when he called out the CNBC broadcast moderators for being petty, saying their behavior illustrated why Americans can't trust the media and noting memorably that “Everyone at home tonight knows that the moderators have no intention of voting in a Republican primary.”

As a result, tweets mentioning the Texas senator during the debate numbered 200,151, just 1,500 shy of Trump's total, according to Amobee Brand Intelligence. Dr. Ben Carson, who had surpassed Trump in a national CBS/New York Times-conducted poll, finished third with 148,131.

Twenty-two percent of Cruz tweets were positive as opposed to only 18% negative. The figures were almost reversed for CNBC—15% positive and 30% negative. Among the unlikely Cruz backers were comedian Bill Maher and actor Patton Oswalt, who tweeted, “I hate Ted Cruz with the power of a million chainsaws revving but I agree with everything he just said.”

Social activity was down overall for this third GOP presidential candidate debate, drawing only 1.8 million tweets compared to 3.9 million for the second.

GOP Candidate Tweets During the Live Broadcast

1.  Donald Trump            201,978

2.  Ted Cruz                     200,151

3.  Ben Carson                148,131

4.  Jeb Bush                     85,203

5.  John Kasich                66,213

6.  Carly Fiorina               55,926

7.  Marco Rubio                29,727

8.  Chris Christie              22,293

9.  Rand Paul                    17,478

10. Mike Huckabee           11,088


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