How to Tell Who Wins Tonight's Republican Debate

It’s the question on everyone’s minds: Who will win today’s Republican debate?

November 10, 2015, 1:00 PM

— -- It’s the question on the minds of politics junkies nationwide: Who will win today’s Republican debate?

Pundits will give their explanations of what happened on stage. Focus groups will try to paint a picture of what the nation thinks. Media organizations will poll voters.

But there are a few innovative, offbeat methods that some people are using to try to figure out who is getting the best boost out of each of the presidential debates. Here’s your guide to figuring out who won Tuesday’s Republican debate:


If you want to know what people think about who will win the Republican nomination, look no further. Pivit uses historical data, real-time information and public opinion to predict what will happen during live events. Users cast their predictions whether the chances of a given event will go higher or lower than the current prognosis.

Greg DePetris, co-founder of Pivit, told ABC News the platform differs from information gathered from online polling because it reaches a wider group of people. “We’re not really answering the question 'Who wins the debate?' We are asking the question. Who do people ultimately think will win the nomination. Pivit was created to generate a much more accurate response of what the public is thinking,” he said.

For example, right now, Pivit has Marco Rubio leading the race for the Republican nomination: Pivit players give Rubio 40 percent odds to win the nomination, compared to 21 percent for Donald Trump and 11 percent for Sen. Ted Cruz. “Polls typically ask a subset of people, Pivit targets wider group of people on who they think will ultimately win the nomination,” DePetris said, calling it a “marketplace of peoples’ sentiment.”

Watching how these numbers change in the 24 hours after the debate can give a pretty good idea of who this group is judging as the victor.

Rubio's odds to win the nomination shot up from both the CNN and CNBC debates @CNNPolitics @zbyronwolf @nowthised

— Pivit (@pivit) November 3, 2015


However, if you’re interested in putting money where your mouth is -- PredictIt may be the tool for you. The website puts your political and financial knowledge to the test, using real money.

Users buy or sell shares in the outcome of either "Yes" or "No" an event will occur. In an event that changes, someone could buy that share at a higher price. Shares for Rubio winning the nomination are currently selling for 49 cents, with Trump at 23 cents and Cruz at 22 cents.

Evening Update: 2016 #POTUS market? Clinton 59¢Rubio 27¢Trump 18¢Sanders 16¢Cruz 11¢

— PredictIt (@PredictIt_) November 9, 2015

Unanimous A.I.

On the cutting edge of group decision-making research lies a new concept called “swarm intelligence.” Louis Rosenberg, a professor who founded an organization called UNU, said that this collective decision-making process forms better conclusions than polls.

“As individuals, they’re all expressing their individual opinions, but they aren’t working together in any way,” Rosenberg said. “There’s no collaboration. There’s no finding common ground.”

Using swarm intelligence is a more real-world way to find a mutually acceptable answer among factions that have different opinions, he said.

“Everyone is reacting in real time. Instead of pulling toward their first choice, they start pulling against a choice they just can’t accept,” he added. “What you have is this real-time negotiation where everyone is pushing and pulling toward an answer they can agree upon."

Here’s an example from the third debate as users -- represented by magnets pulling toward their choice -- try to come up with a debate winner in real time:

And Rosenberg said it works: His swarm picked the Stanley Cup winner before it started, chose 11 of the 15 Academy Award winners and correctly predicted the Royals would win Game 1 of the World Series by one run.

“When you’re working together as a swarm, you’re combining your wisdom, combining your knowledge and combining your opinions,” he said.

Internet Trends

If you would rather pinch your pennies and take your thoughts to social media, outlets have got you covered.

Twitter allows users to contribute and view the trending topics, and major "moments" of the day. They also announce the most successful tweets during the debates, like this one from ABC News during the very first debate.

Similarly, Facebook highlights trending topics in politics, science and technology, sports and entertainment.

Even Google gets in on the action, highlighting who was the most-searched candidate before, during and after the debate, revealing where voters are asking questions and considering new candidates.

Before and after… How America searched for the #GOPdebate candidates and how it changed

— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) October 29, 2015

.@marcorubio was top searched candidate at tonight's #GOPDebate on @Google

— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) October 29, 2015

Snap Polls

Some websites use snap polls to try to gauge who win debates, asking voters directly who they thought was the strongest candidate. Most of these polls, conducted online, are opt-in surveys, which means that anyone can take it.

This generally means that the sample is biased. In order to get accurate results, pollsters need to use a representative sample -- something that opt-in surveys rarely achieve.

For example, opt-in online polls after the first Democratic debate showed Bernie Sanders as a clear winner. But more traditional polls, which captured Democratic voters who didn’t take the online survey, showed that voters chose Hillary Clinton as the debate winner.

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