The hosting of a presidential debate takes months of planning, untold hours of work and several million dollars—a mammoth task for any organization, but especially challenging for a small, independent school such as Lynn University. However, the reward can be equally great as the early numbers related to the school's hosting of the final presidential debate are showing.
Economic impact is hard to measure, encompassing several variables including: elevated local spending, legacy impact and publicity value, among others. To track this activity, Lynn University is commissioning an economic impact report with Enigma Research so the whole community can see the positive impact the debate brought to our community. The final version of the report should be available in December 2012.
As Lynn President Kevin M. Ross recently stated in his thank you note to the campus community, "We welcomed the world to our campus for a few days, and they seem to like what they saw. People are now aware of what we have known for some time, that Lynn University is a dynamic institution full of diverse and talented people who are capable of accomplishing great things."
Traditional media hits
The first debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney was watched by 67.2 million and the second 65.6 million according to the Nielson company. The final debate was up against Monday night football and the final game of the National League championship series which seems to have affected its viewership—an estimated 59.2 million tuned in to see the two candidates square off on foreign policy.
Despite the smaller audience, the debate at Lynn enjoyed massive media coverage. The school is still adding up the value of the tens of thousands of articles and estimates earned media placements to be worth in the tens of millions of dollars. This number will grow as more media clips are captured through the university's media monitoring software, and the total publicity value will be known in the coming weeks.
Additionally, the Lynn debate had more viewers than the third debate between Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008 and set a record for Fox News with 11.5 million people watching on that channel—surpassing the channel's previous record of 11.1 viewers who tuned in to watch the Joe Biden-Sarah Palin debate in 2008.
On Oct. 22, 2012, lynn.edu saw a 454 percent increase in page views. In addition, since Lynn's debate website, debate2012.lynn.edu, was launched on Feb. 1, 2012, the site had 153,265 visits and saw 297,897 page views.
Social media numbers
According to Twitter, Inc., on Monday, Oct. 22, the night of third and final presidential debate on Lynn University's campus in Boca Raton, #lynndebate was trending top 3 nationwide and top 5 worldwide. In addition, between Monday, Oct. 15 and Tuesday, Oct. 23, Lynn saw a 15.7 percent increase (309 tweeps) in Twitter followers.
- Between 9 – 10:34 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 22, there were a total of 6.5 million debate-related tweets.
- President Obama's "fewer horses and bayonets" comment at 9:45 p.m. peaked Twitter activity with 105,767 tweets per minute.
- Between Tuesday, Oct. 16 and Tuesday, Oct. 23, there were more than 210,000 tweets using #lynndebate.
- More than 202,000 of the total #lynndebate tweets occurred on Monday, Oct. 22.
- Several influential people and outlets used #lynndebate in their tweets including BBC Breaking News, Al Gore, Fox News, USA Today, C-Span, Twitter Government and Darth Vader, among others.
Presidential and vice presidential debate stats
- The first debate at the University of Denver topped the charts generating 10.3 million tweets with a max of 158,690 tweets per minute.
- The second debate at Hofstra University placed second generating 7.2 million tweets with a max of 109,560 tweets per minute.
- The third and final debate at Lynn University places third generating 6.5 million tweets with a max of 105,767 tweets per minute.
- The vice presidential debate at Centre College placed fourth, generating 3.5 million tweets and with a max of 58,275 tweets per minute.
Lynn produced nearly 1 hour of edited footage in 49 debate-related videos.
Lynn hosted four Google Hangouts throughout debate weekend.
39 people checked into the volunteer headquarters 132 times.
More than 2,000 debate photos posted.
1,393 #lynndebate photos posted.
Between Monday, Oct. 15 and Tuesday, Oct. 23, Lynn saw an 8.5 percent increase (460 friends) in Facebook likes.
- "Daily People Talking About This" spiked from 367 on Oct. 21 to 1,692 on Oct. 22.
- "Daily Total Reach" spiked from 26,097 on Oct. 21 to 306,791 on Oct. 22.
- "Daily Total Impressions" spiked from 86,579 on Oct. 21 to 934,258 on Oct. 22.
Lynn Debate Tumblr
Lynn created a Tumblr blog to archive its debate-related social media interactions.
iTunes U curriculum
Lynn engaged students in grades K-12 with its 2012 Debate Curriculum for Education, available for free download on the iPad through Apple iTunes U. Lynn was the only 2012 presidential debate host school to offer a debate-related K-12 curriculum through iTunes U.
- 13,411 iTunes users subscribed
- 10,723 iTunes users downloaded
- 130,034 iTunes users browsed
Lynn University is not resting on its laurels. The school has many plans beyond the debate during the remainder of its 50th anniversary year. For example, Lynn staff are finalizing plans for the groundbreaking of the new Bobby Campbell Soccer and Lacrosse Stadium and new International Business Center building, which will take place in the spring semester.
"I've always said that we're a small school that does big things," Ross said. "The debate is only the latest example of this, and I hope everyone stays tuned to see what we do next."