Two of the big research themes of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab converged in last night’s VP Debate: Social Sentiment Analytics and Transmedia Storytelling. The analytics part is fairly straightforward. For the last year in association with the Signals Analysis and Interpretation Lab, we have been recording the real time sentiment on Twitter of the Presidential Candidates. This is a huge corpus of data and during last week’s Presidential debate we were analyzing about 1400 tweets per second. Last night Joe Biden seemed to overwhelm Paul Ryan both in volume and in positive sentiment on our real time dashboard.
Which leads me to the second part of our work, Transmedia Storytelling. As our Chief Advisor Henry Jenkins has taught us, Transmedia is the art of telling a single story across multiple platforms, with each piece adding to the total narrative. The story cannot be told in a single commercial or a single debate as each piece adds to the transmedia narrative. Last night Joe Biden helped clarify the Democratic narrative that had been so muddied in the first debate by Mitt Romney’s desperate dash to the center.Two elements of the Democratic difference were hammered home relentlessly.
Clashing in a feisty, hard-edged debate, Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday night repeatedly accused challenger Paul D. Ryan and his running mate, Mitt Romney, of favoring the rich at the expense of middle-class Americans and engaging in loose talk that could lead the country to another war.
Ryan tried to put Biden on the defensive over Libya, but it didn’t work.
BIDEN: I will be very specific. Number one, the — this lecture on embassy security — the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for, number one. So much for the embassy security piece. Number two, Governor Romney, before he knew the facts, before he even knew that our ambassador was killed, he was out making a political statement which was panned by the media around the world. And this talk about this — this weakness. I — I don’t understand what my friend’s talking about here. We — this is a president who’s gone out and done everything he has said he was going to do. This is a guy who’s repaired our alliances so the rest of the world follows us again.
On Tuesday Obama will have an opportunity to press this theme. Romney has surrounded himself with Bush era Neocons like John Bolton and Dan Senor, who clearly would like nothing more than to start another war in Iran (and maybe one is Syria as well). I’ll have more to say on that subject on Monday, but for now it is safe to say that Biden got the Democratic Transmedia story back on track.