clock menu more-arrow no yes

Ben Carson won the Republican debate on Facebook even though he said the least

Ben Carson spoke the least, got attacked the least, and still crushed all his opponents on Facebook during the Republican presidential debateTuesday night.

These four charts show the story of the night — from Carson's quiet win to Marco Rubio's philosopher wars.

Carson spoke the least of any of the candidates onstage — clocking in with eight minutes and 49 seconds. That's about two-thirds of the time his opponent Ted Cruz spent talking. He was the only candidate who spoke less than nine minutes.

How long each candidate spoke

Carson also pulled off something no other candidate did: He was the only one onstage whose name wasn't mentioned by an opponent.

Instead, it was other candidates who had the biggest moments. Marco Rubio kicked off the debate with a memorable — if false — comparison of how much welders and philosophers earn. "For the life of me I don't know why we stigmatize vocational education," he said. "Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders than philosophers."

This turns out not to be the case: Philosophy majors tend to earn more than welders.

Welders versus philosophers wages

Carson did have a bit of a spike in terms of Google search data, which you can see below. It happened right around when he got his first question, referring to questions about inaccuracies in his biography.

"Well, first of all, thank you for not asking me what I said in the 10th grade," Carson quipped, earning a big round of applause. "I appreciate that."

But the Carson bump was nothing compared with Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, who had much bigger search spikes later in the evening.

There is one way, however, that Carson did win big: on Facebook. The candidate had, far and away, the biggest post of the night. CrowdTangle, a social media tool used by news organizations (including us here at Vox), looked at Facebook engagement for each candidate — a metric that combines likes, comments, and shares — and saw that offscreen and on social media, Carson easily dominated the discussion.

facebook graph

So it might not matter that much to Carson that he was a small presence onstage, given that when it comes to actually engaging with supporters, he could call Tuesday night a clear win.