By Alexandre Sagakian

By Alexandre Sagakian

08.07.15 Research

Qriously Tracks Minute by Minute Sentiment During GOP Debate

08.07.15 Research

For the first time ever, Qriously collected real-time sentiment during a live debate, by pushing questions to tens of thousands of smartphone users. Latest estimates indicate that 87% of consumers use a second-screen – mainly smartphones – while watching TV. Qriously took advantage of this to target smartphone users who were watching the GOP debate and ask them questions with 30 seconds to respond. Polling using traditional methods while people are actively engaged with a show are not possible at this scale, making this is a new step for research.

Using our non-intrusive technique, we were able to measure minute by minute who was winning or losing the debate. In total Qriously surveyed nearly 400 respondents who engaged in the first hour of the debate.

Donald Trump was clearly the strongest winner – particularly on his favored topic of immigration, where he peaked at 40%. He was challenged around the 35-minute mark by Marco Rubio’s response to his immigration comments; he also experienced a natural dip caused by the focus on other candidates during this period. Among the top 6 candidates, Huckabee and Paul seemed consistently low, with no significant boosts in popularity during the first hour of the debate.

The first question we asked was : “Who do you think is winning the debate so far?”

The following graph shows who was seen as the winner every 10 minutes. We also overlaid the timeline of the main discussion topics.



How Candidate Statements’ Impacted Their Performance

The absolute power of this analysis comes when we start to record what the individual candidates actually said during this period.



Trump’s popularity during the debate is characterized by two sharp increases in popularity: one at around the 25-minute mark, while he was talking about preventing illegal immigration (“We need to build a wall and it has to be built quickly”). This caused a huge spike in popularity.

The surge in support quickly died down, as he wasn’t speaking for the next ten minutes (and other candidates gave strong performances); he again experienced a surge in support when he began speaking about political bribery (“Most of the people on this stage, I’ve given to”) before remaining elevated during his proposals for a private healthcare system to replace Obamacare.



Marco Rubio, too, shows two distinct rises in popularity. One actually comes during his opening statements (“This election cannot be a resume competition”), where he articulates his vision for the future of the Republican party.

His second boost in popularity comes during his rebuttal to Donald Trump’s enormously popular comments on immigration, where he claims that many immigrants actually come from countries outside Mexico, and that America is actually a highly immigrant-friendly country (“This is the most generous country in the world when it comes to immigration”).



Perhaps the most crucial thing is that speaking during the debate does not guarantee a popularity boost. Bush, above, spoke multiple times during the 0-35 minute periods in the debate (e.g. around the 21-minute mark, when he claims that the vast majority of people coming to America illegally “have no other option”); but this statement did not lead to a rise in popularity.

Real-time sentiment can clearly show how the general public is feeling about a politician’s comments – right down to the minute.

Our Conclusions

Trump, Bush and Rubio all excited public support for their comments over the evening (particularly Trump, whose comments about building a wall on the Mexican-American border seemed wildly popular among our respondents). Other politicians weren’t so lucky; Huckabee, Paul and others failed to excite the public, even during their speaking segments.

Expect more from Qriously on the US Election

Armed with this first successful real-time poll, we will be covering all key presidential debates. Stay tuned for more results and insight over the course of the US election!

Our Methodology

Qriously programmatically buys ad inventory in thousands of hand curated mobile apps to display questions at scale. Qriously currently reaches an estimated 85% of smartphone users and 50% of US population 18+. Mobile users have 30 seconds to answer the question, and can be asked further questions in a survey interstitial. Our poll was carried out on Thursday 6th of August between 9pm and 10pm ET on a sample of 392 smartphone users who were watching the debate live (75% of whom were registered voters and 43% of whom identified as Republicans).

Respondents are treated as anonymous.


For inquiries, please contact:

Alexandre Sagakian  I  VP, Research & Data Products