The insect landed on Pence’s head for two minutes and seemed to be the only thing on viewers’ minds.
New York University conducted a study following the event that shows the fly received more mentions on Twitter than did any of the presidential or vice-presidential candidates.
The team found the it was mentioned 29 percent more on average than any other candidate, including President Donald Trump.
However, the data showed that Pence led with 76 percent more mentions than his running mate during the debate and 82 percent after the event.
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Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris went head-to-head during a debate Wednesday, but a third-participant showed up that stole the show – a little housefly. The insect landed on Pence’s head for two minutes – and it seemed to be the only thing on viewers’ minds
The fly sat on Pence’s head for two minutes during Wednesday’s debate that was held in Utah.
And within seconds, conversation about the insect dominated the corners of Twitter.
Anasse Bari, a clinical assistant professor in computer science at the Courant Institute and the senior author of the study, said: ‘While the exchange between the vice-presidential candidates may have produced some memorable moments, they couldn’t compete with the insect they shared, if only briefly, the debate stage with.’
‘Our results make clear that online activity stemming from live events can be driven by the most inconsequential, and unpredictable, incidents.’
New York University conducted a study following the event that shows the fly received more mentions on Twitter than did any of the presidential or vice-presidential candidates
The team found the it was mentioned 29 percent more on average than any other candidate, including President Donald Trump
The team used three measurements during this study.
The first was tweets about Harris and Pence in the two hours leading up to the debate, during the event and the two hours after.
The second used Goggle searches of both candidates the day of the debate, an hour leading up to it and an hour after it was over.
And the final measurement was a transcript of the candidates’ words.
While the fly may have dominated Twitter mentions, the study revealed distinctions in how online users described the vice-presidential candidates.
Researchers found the Pence dominated Harris in Twitter mentions during the debate by 76.6 percent and he also led following the event with 82.4 percent more mentions.
However, the data showed that Pence led with 76 percent more mentions than his running mate during the debate and 82 percent after the event
However, the team notes that ‘there was little difference in pre-debate mentions, with the vice president receiving 5 percent more mentions.’
The candidates were asked questions about a range of topics – from climate change to systemic racism and the coronavirus.
But the one that gained the most attention on Twitter was abortion.
For Harris, it was ‘I will always fight for a woman’s right to make a decision about her own body’ and for Pence, it was ‘I’m pro-life. I don’t apologize for it.
New York University also tallied how many times the candidates interrupted each other and found Pence cut Harris off 15 times and Harris spoke out of turn seven times.
By contrast, according to an analysis by the research team of last week’s presidential debate, Trump interrupted moderator Chris Wallace or Biden approximately 100 times.
This is an increase from the 51 times he interrupted Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or moderator Lester Holt in the 2016 presidential debate.
During the review of the candidate’s transcripts, the team found Pence’s most-used words were ‘American,’ ‘president,’ and ‘Trump’ – he used the phrase ‘American people’ 35 times.
Harris’s most-used words were ‘Joe,’ ‘people,’ and ‘will’, but she used the phrase ‘the American people’ 21 times.