Bernie Sanders Tops Social Media Conversations As Turnouts Exceed Expectations

People are talking about Bernie Sanders on social media. So much so, he’s dominating the conversation. On the day of the Iowa caucuses, Facebook has lit up with posts and discussions about the Vermont senator.

According to CNN, Facebook shared data about popular candidates in Iowa. The data represents how much people are talking about each candidate regarding the Iowa caucus. The conversations were measured from midnight CST until noon. According to the data, when measuring all the candidates, Bernie Sanders topped the social media conversations on Facebook with a whopping 42.2 percent of users talking about him.

Donald Trump came in at a distant second with 21.7 percent of conversations. Hillary Clinton limped in at third place with a meager 13.1 percent of conversations on the social media site.

On the Democratic side, Sanders slam dunked the conversation percentages. Conversations about the senator measured at 73 percent. Hillary Clinton generated on 25 percent of the interest on Facebook, with Martin O’Malley making a minuscule impact at 1 percent.

Now, many are wondering, will this huge interest in Bernie Sanders on social media translate into a win in Iowa? Any candidate that garners such a large chunk of interest may safely assume they’ll win. However, media pundits still put Hillary in the win category for Iowa, even though Bernie Sanders has consistently attracted the most attention from voters in rallies, on social media, and in one-on-one conversations. It wasn’t until he became a visible, viable threat to Clinton that mainstream media began to pay attention to him.

Sanders has been a popular fixture on social media, including the news aggregator, Reddit. The r/SandersForPresident, subreddit, which was founded by 23-year-old Aiden King, has grown from just a few hundred members to more than 165,000 members since Sanders announced his plans to run nine months ago.

King, who was instrumental in the sub’s popularity and credibility with Sanders supporters, helped play an important role in getting the word out about Bernie Sanders long before he announced his run.

On January 18, King (once known as Vermonty_Python on the sub), wrote a farewell post as he prepared to become part of Bernie Sanders’ official Vermont campaign. On that day, the r/SandersForPresident sub had existed for 774 days, or two years and 22 days. He is just one example of the young people of this country who used social media successfully to spread the word about Bernie Sanders and what the senator could do for the country.

At both Democratic and Republican caucus sites, officials are reporting unusually high numbers of on-site registration. Iowa is one of the few states that allows same-day voter registration. Conventional wisdom goes that high turnouts favor Democrats, but in the primaries, this could translate into favorable outcomes for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, both of whom have used social media effectively to garner support among Millennials, which are now the largest voting group in the nation.

In one precinct, Daily Beast political reporter Betsy Woodruff tweeted a photo of a Democratic precinct overrun with caucus goers, with a quick blurb that it had run out of voter registration papers. The turnout, again, was much bigger than expected. Although Iowa governor Terry Branstad told C-SPAN a few days ago that he was expecting a larger-than-normal turnout, no one could have predicted just how large the crowds of caucus goers would be.

Given Sanders’ popularity on social media, this could be a good indicator of his performance in Iowa, as well as the rest of the primaries.

[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]