Bernie Sanders is seeing a significant jump after his debate performance, climbing in the polls and raising more than $2 million in a span of just 24 hours.
A large portion of America just got their first introduction to the Vermont senator, whose public stature has not come close to matching that of the former First Lady and Secretary of State. But Sanders has been slowly and steadily building support in recent months, attracting enormous crowds to his rallies and amassing an active following online.
Now, a strong performance in the first Democratic presidential debate could help push Bernie Sanders even further.
While results were mixed, many pundits consider Sanders the winner of Tuesday’s debate, especially those watching at home. Sanders had up to 80 percent of votes in online polls, which said he outperformed Hillary Clinton, and his online presence grew as well, with 50,000 new followers across social media formats.
The Sanders supporters rewarded the performance, helping Bernie raise close to $2 million, with his campaign saying the average donation is about $30. A lot of that money came quickly, with campaign officials saying he raised $100,000 in just five minutes after the debate ended.
And the jump may have started even before Bernie Sanders took the stage. A Reuters poll from earlier in the week found that Sanders was cutting into Clinton’s lead, helping her to drop 10 percentage points in just four days, falling to 41 percent total support.
The victories have led to a shift in strategy for Bernie Sanders. As CNN noted, his campaign strategists have begun placing more emphasis on performing well in smaller settings and in key states, including Iowa, where he will spend two days this weekend.
“At the beginning we had to do something to create that excitement, we started from nothing,” said Sanders adviser Tad Devine. “Now that we’ve gotten this going, we’re going to move towards a period of persuasion. We’ve got something to work with now. Now we go and persuade voters.”
He may get some help in that. After the debate, he made an appearance on Ellen, where he made headlines by dancing and putting his lighter side on display.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 15, 2015
Supporters have also hyped up the visit, trying to help Sanders reach the maximum audience.
— Better World Bob (@BetterWorldBob) October 15, 2015
Sanders himself has said he is trying to get the “right” kind of attention, keeping a laser focus on the issues that resonate most with Americans.
“If I slipped on a banana peel leaving here it would be on the front page of the papers,” Sanders said.
“But when we talk about the great crisis facing this country, [it’s] very hard to get media attention for a lot of obvious reasons. And if I was standing here tonight and making some vicious attack against Hillary Clinton or anybody else it’d be a front page story.”
“But if we talk about why the middle class is disappearing and almost all new wealth is going to the top 1 percent, not a big story,” he added. “So what the political revolution is, is forcing a debate. Not about trivial, but the real issues.”
The appearances in Los Angeles build on the momentum of Sanders’ debate fundraising success. The campaign raised roughly $2 million since Tuesday night’s debate, according to Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, with an average contribution of $30.
It is unclear how long Bernie Sanders can ride his wave of support. Some political analysts believe he has signs of trouble in his demographics, as he is pulling in younger and more liberal voters but has not cracked into Clinton’s support among key groups, including minorities and more independent voters. Sanders could also be hurt if Vice President Joe Biden enters the race, though Biden would likely pull support away from Hillary Clinton, as well.
[Picture by Darren McCollester / Getty Images]