Bernie Sanders won Sunday night’s debate. Regardless of what the corporate media pundits think, the self-styled Democratic Socialist reaped the most benefit from appearing on stage at the Democratic debate.
While purely unscientific, several online polls show Bernie Sanders won the debate handily. At the time of this writing, 67,270 people had voted in Time’s online reader poll, giving the win to Bernie Sanders. Only 10 percent felt Hillary Clinton won, with Martin O’Malley limping in at a meager 3 percent. (The photo below erroneously shows the debate being on Thursday, however the poll was posted on Sunday, Jan. 17).
— POLITICO (@politico) January 18, 2016
Slate’s online poll shows 83 percent of readers believe Bernie Sanders won the debate, but that poll is vulnerable to multiple votes. It also does not show how many people participated in the poll.
So who won tonight's #DemDebate?
— Slate (@Slate) January 18, 2016
Even with these unscientific polls, it stands to reason that if Sanders supporters voted more than once, so, too, would Hillary supporters. And with several polls reflecting that at least 80 percent of viewers felt Bernie Sanders won the debate, it’s hard to argue the numbers.
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) January 18, 2016
During a break about halfway through the debate NBC News presented a map of the most searched Democratic candidates by state from Google Trends. Hillary’s color was green. Martin O’Malley’s color was orange. Bernie Sanders’s color was purple. At that time the graphic showed that in all 50 states, Bernie Sanders was the most searched candidate of all three on the debate stage. In terms of voter curiosity, the Vermont senator clearly won.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) January 18, 2016
At the end of the debate, Hillary Clinton was the top searched candidate in 12 states, including South Carolina, where the debate was held. However, that still means people in 38 states were searching for information on Bernie Sanders more so than for Clinton.
Now, here’s where it gets fun. Google Trends shows the top queries for each candidate. For Hillary Clinton, the number one Google search term was for a question pertaining to her legal problems.
“Will Hillary Clinton get prosecuted?”
That is in stark contrast to Bernie Sanders’s number one query.
“Why is Bernie Sanders so popular?”
The second most popular search for both candidates had to do with their ability to win the election.
Poor Martin O’Malley just wanted some air time, and the number one search query for him reflected it.
“Why is Martin O’Malley running for President?”
Given the man’s charm and abundant self-assurance, it’s possible he’s testing the waters for another run in four years if the incumbent does not seek re-election.
Google Trends also showed each candidate’s search spikes, and Bernie Sanders won the biggest search spike of the night on the issue of police violence. Google calls this “search interest” on a scale of 0 to 100.
YouTube celebrity Franchesca Ramsey asked the candidates how they would handle police violence towards minorities and whether the federal government should get involved in such investigations. Sanders came out strongly for holding law enforcement officers accountable for unwarranted killings.
Sanders indicated that the U.S. Justice Department should get involved in an investigation any time a person is killed while in police custody. He also strongly urged police departments to demilitarize.
“And thirdly, we have got to demilitarize our police departments so they don’t look like occupying armies. We’ve got to move toward community policing, and fourthly, we have got to make our police departments look like the communities they serve in their diversity.”
As he spoke, Bernie’s search interest score soared to 100 on Google, far above both Clinton and O’Malley.
He had several other spikes in searches but at one hour in, he had another important spike during the heated healthcare debate. Hillary, too, had a slightly higher search number. The debate was heated on the topic because in recent days Clinton was criticized for misrepresenting Bernie Sanders’ single payer plan. Clinton accused Sanders of wanting to dismantle the ACA. Sanders denied this, reminding Hillary of one important point: He helped write the Affordable Care Act.
— ABC News (@ABC) January 18, 2016
Several hours prior to the debate, he released more details on the plan which would result in abolishing private health insurance companies while raising taxes slightly. For a family of four earning $50,000 and over, he would implement a modest payroll tax on employers and workers. Ultimately, though, it would save families a significant amount of money by eliminating the middle man (insurance companies) and doing away with high premiums.
Finally, Bernie Sanders won the debate with a significantly higher search total than either Clinton or O’Malley, with a search interest of 60 versus Clinton’s 28.
If search interest and online polls are any indication, it is clear that Bernie Sanders’ message resonated with a large portion of the American population. And because of this, he won the debate.
*Edited to remove screen grabs.
[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty]