The social chatter settled into a few major themes.
— Big Bird. Early in the debate, Romney said he would defund public broadcasting to bring down the deficit but added that he liked Big Bird, a popular character on PBS' "Sesame Street." Social networks immediately responded, with participants posting spoof photos of Big Bird and other "Sesame Street" characters on Facebook and setting up parody Big Bird Twitter accounts. During a lull in the debate, an ABC news executive tweeted, "avian life is outstripping human life in this debate."
— Jim Lehrer. The veteran PBS newsman was widely panned as the debate moderator on social media, with viewers complaining he asked weak questions and did a poor job of keeping command of the debate's time and tempo. Lehrer's name became a trending topic on Twitter, and his performance drew jeers from countless participants. "Jim Lehrer is like the grandpa at dinner table who falls asleep and wakes up randomly shouting," tweeted a woman with the Twitter handle of Bookgirl96.
— Romney's big win. Social media participants marveled at Romney's strong outing and pronounced Obama's debate performance flat, non-energetic and meandering — a dud. While Obama has been leading Romney in battleground state polls in recent days, the consensus on social networks was that Romney's debate performance had breathed new life into his campaign.