Hillary Clinton brushes off Republican candidates during debate

The former secretary of state garnered much attention and praise on Twitter for a sassy reply. However, some thought the Benghazi hearings reference was inappropriate.

Winning a primary debate online has become just as important as—if not more than—what happens on stage.

CNBC tracked the number of new followers each Republican candidate received, along with their mentions on Twitter, during Wednesday night’s debate. Reporters Nicholas Wells, Eric Chemi and Mark Fahey explained the power of winning with the social media crowd:

For example, in the September GOP debate, we saw Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson gain the most followers during the debate itself — 22,000 each. The next post-debate polls then showed both of them gaining the most among likely Republican voters.

CNBC also posted a chart showing which candidate came out on top:

Though Ted Cruz was mentioned more than 4,800 times in one minute after he made a statement on media bias, and Mark Rubio grabbed more than 3,600 mentions the two minutes after he accused reporters of being “a Super PAC for Democrats,” the clear social media winner wasn’t present on stage.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her social media team tweeted campaign messages throughout the debate, along with live-texting supporters:

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