Although Andrew Yang claims his mic was not on for parts of Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate — claims that were echoed by fellow contender Marianne Williamson, per The Inquisitr — and had just two minutes and 58 seconds of speaking time, the exposure appears to have benefited him nonetheless. The New York Post reports that Yang gained more than 108,000 Twitter followers for a 32 percent increase, with Kamala Harris in second with over 69,000 new followers for a three percent increase. Julian Castro came in third with nearly 55,000 new followers for a 25 percent increase.
“The buzz you can create from social media like Twitter can have a real effect,” said Democratic strategist Bruce Gyory, while speaking to the Post.
“That’s the kind of early energy Barack Obama had in 2008 and Bernie Sanders had in 2016 that helped them do better in the primaries.”
Michael Bennet, Tim Ryan, and Kirsten Gillibrand gained the least amount of new Twitter followers and sat at the bottom of the list.
Paid blogger Lawrence Person has been tracking the candidates’ Twitter numbers since March via his BattleSwarm site, and claims it’s an effective way to measure candidate “buzz” and determine people who “should maybe not be in the race at all.”
“Up to now the numbers have been pretty stagnant, with a few exceptions, like Mayor Pete Buttigieg,” Person said.
Despite the benefits of social media buzz, Gyory compares it to the activity of “an old-fashioned battlefield cavalry charge,” and highlights that ultimately, the surge must be accompanied by “ground troops in the early primary states.”
Yang has a strong internet following who call themselves the Yang Gang and got his early boost in the race from his appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast, which is available on YouTube. The 44-year-old entrepreneur even took to Twitter Saturday evening to suggest his plans to start his own podcast called “Let Yang Speak” — a reference to the hashtag that spread through Twitter after his mic issues at the debate — that would include “annotated commentary on the debate and other topics.”
The podcast consideration comes shortly after critics of the current presidential debate format, such as Sam Harris and Eric Weinstein, called it outdated, lacking depth, and encouraging of spectacle, with Weinstein suggesting that Yang “lead longer internet-based formats with greater depth.”
Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard also criticized the debate and the fact that she was the only one to receive a negative question during her Wednesday performance, adding that there was “clear bias” against her.