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Presidential Candidates Turn Night Owls

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If Twitter is any gauge, it’s no surprise that the presidential candidates are showing their collective lighter sides in late-night broadcast TV appearances this political season. But the strategy does not appear to be paying off for everybody.

It’s hard to turn on a late-night talk show these days without finding a candidate trying to showcase their ability to answer questions without shouting, including Ted Cruz and a less-voluble Donald Trump appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on back-to-back days last week.

Some have argued that had candidate Al Gore shown a sense of humor during the campaign that was on display afterwards in appearances with David Letterman and elsewhere, he might have been elected in 2000.

Taking to the talk circuit doesn’t, however, guarantee a Twitter bump, as some candidates have discovered. But for a number of recent appearances, the payoff has come in a generally strong uptick in positive social media sentiment. Whether that eventually translates into votes only time and the primaries, caucuses and general election will tell.

Jeb Bush may still be trailing the outsider GOP candidates, but he got a big spike in positive Twitter sentiments from his appearance on The Late Show, according to the social media monitor Wayin. Before the appearance, Bush’s Twitter positives were 34%; afterward, he was up to 48%.

Hillary Clinton’s Twitter positives were 34% before an appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, but 47% in the hours immediately following. Trump got a seven-point bump from Late Show (41% to 48%).

By contrast, candidate Carly Fiorina’s positives ticked down a couple of points after her appearance last week on Tonight, although those positives were already sky-high at 73%. A Wayin spokesperson theorized the drop might have been because Fiorina spoke more about serious issues than Clinton or Bush did. Cruz also saw a dip from 67% positives to 63%.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.