Sanders wins on social media — again

February 5, 2016

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the New Hampshire debate. REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR

 

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders continued his reign over social media in a wide-ranging Thursday night Democratic debate that covered ISIS, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the death penalty and foreign policy.

In a poll published to the Twitter Government (@gov) account during the debate, Twitter users said they overwhelmingly identified as #FeelTheBern voters as opposed to #ImWithHer voters. The former, a hashtag popularly attributed to Sanders, received 49 percent of the votes, versus 22 percent for the latter hashtag, which is attributed to Clinton.

“Undecided” and “Other” received 13 and 16 percent, respectively.

Despite a strong showing from Clinton during the debate, the social media support for Sanders comes as little surprise: Twitter tends to attract more millennials, who have largely backed the Vermont senator.

After tepid initial interest on Twitter, #DemDebate became the top trending item in the U.S. Thursday night. Many Twitter users expressed surprise over the contentiousness of the debate, during which Clinton went on the offensive.

“Good on the Democrats for turning this thing into a family fighting at the Olive Garden. #DemDebate,” tweeted Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker), a comedian and a writer for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Overall, Sanders saw more than 151,000 mentions on Twitter during the debate, according to social media monitoring group Brandwatch, compared to Clinton’s roughly 136,000 mentions.

The candidates’ escalating war of words came a day after a town hall meeting between the two, during which time they sparred over their progressive credentials. The two also traded increasingly aggressive language from their social media accounts this week.

“You can be a moderate. You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive,” Sanders tweeted Wednesday.

Clinton’s campaign pushed back later that same day: “This shouldn’t be a debate about who gets to define ‘progressive’—it should be about who will get real results for American families,”  Clinton tweeted, adding: “Hillary’s not running to make a point—she’s running to make a difference. She’ll keep doing that. Please feel free to keep tweeting.”

(Gina Cherelus contributed reporting from New York)

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