Twitter Prepares for Presidential Debates

Wednesday could be one of the busiest days in the history of Twitter. On that night, Democratic President Barack Obama will debate Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney for the first of three eagerly anticipated debates.

“It’s a tremendously rare moment in politics when everything and everyone stops for a single event,” says Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza. “Wednesday night’s first general election debate between President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is just such a moment. Think of it like the Super Bowl, but for politics; even if you don’t like the game all that much, you tune in because it’s a cultural happening.”

And there’s no such thing today as a cultural event happening independent of Twitter. As a result, social media will be the place for Americans to sort out who won the debates and why.

“What does that huge amount of political media noise mean?” Cillizza asks. “It means that unless one candidate soars mightily or stumbles just as mightily, it’s hard to see either man taking a huge victory from Wednesday’s debate.”

Twitter will all but certainly amplify every boom and bust moment for the candidates who endure them.

“Most people who tune in will have made their minds up about who won (and who they are going to vote for) before a word is uttered by either candidate — and, in the post-debate analysis, they’ll tune in to whatever commentary best fits that view,” Cillizza concludes. “For the tiny sliver of undecided voters, it’s hard to imagine they will find a way to cut through all the clutter to find a reason to choose either candidate — at least not yet.”