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Social media analysis: Obama reminds Americans he's the president in second debate

Crimson Hexagon Inc. and NBC News

Social media campaign sentiment for Tuesday, Oct. 16, most of it before Tuesday night's debate. Click the image for the full version.

President Barack Obama eclipsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate Tuesday night, commanding the stage in a manner that many people found a reassuring contrast to his performance in their first debate, according to NBC Politics' computer-assisted analysis of more than 1 million debate comments on Twitter and Facebook.

Through midday Wednesday, a large plurality of comments reflected a belief that Obama did better in the debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.:

Crimson Hexagon Inc. and NBC Politics

That works out to a 58 percent to 42 percent edge for Obama among commenters who expressed a clear opinion.

Sharp exchanges between Obama, Romney at second debate

M. Alex Johnson M. Alex Johnson is a reporter for NBC News. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Romney was sharply criticized for his comments on equal opportunities for women, a topic that has been a consistent drag on his appeal since NBC Politics began tracking social media sentiment in the presidential campaign in February. Commenters particularly believed that Romney stumbled badly in asserting the he had reviewed "binders full of women" when assembling his Cabinet when he became governor of Massachusetts in 2003:

Crimson Hexagon Inc. and NBC Politics

That unusual phrase was the inspiration for an online meme that took off almost as soon as the words came out of Romney's mouth and for thousands of jokes during and after the debate:

Twitter.com — 9:40 p.m. ET

Facebook.com — 5:42 p.m. ET

But many commenters also assessed it seriously as evidence that Romney was dismissive of women:

Twitter.com — 9:45 p.m. ET

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Facebook.com — 10:05 p.m. ET

NBC Politics reviewed 1.05 million posts on Twitter and Facebook through noon ET using a tool called ForSight, a data platform developed by Crimson Hexagon Inc., which many research and business organizations have adopted to gauge public opinion in new media. It isn't the same as a traditional survey, which seeks to reflect national opinion; instead, it's a broad, non-predictive snapshot of what's being said by Americans who follow politics and are active on Facebook, Twitter or both at a particular moment in time, and why they're saying it.

More social media analysis from NBCPolitics.com

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A visualization of the data indicates that the general discussion was focused heavily on Obama, rather than Romney, after what was widely characterized as a lackluster performance during the first debate Oct. 3 in Denver. Even those who said Romney did better Tuesday night did so by drawing direct comparisons to the president, whose name was the single most-cited word in pro-Romney comments:

Crimson Hexagon Inc. and NBC Politics

Some were put off by Obama's aggressiveness:

Twitter.com — 12:06 a.m. ET

Facebook.com — 10:38 .m. ET

But many more were reassured by Obama's bounce-back from his earlier subdued performance:

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Twitter.com — 10:16 p.m. ET

Facebook.com — 11 p.m. ET

The initial consensus was that Obama supporters were relieved — relief that was expressed in hundreds of in-your-face posts like this one:

Twitter.com — 9:19 p.m. ET

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