Bernie Sanders Winning The Battle For On Line Support

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In another example of how much grass roots support he has, Bernie Sanders has now reached one million on line donors. The Wall Street Journal reports:

With hours to go before the third quarter campaign finance filing deadline, the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said it reached its goal of one million individual online contributions.

He is the first candidate of the 2016 campaign to announce it had reached this number – and he reached it faster than President Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012.

The Sanders campaign has touted its goal of hitting one million online donations by tonight’s deadline to spur more individuals to donate.

With hours to go before the third quarter campaign finance filing deadline, the campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said it reached its goal of one million individual online contributions.

He is the first candidate of the 2016 campaign to announce it had reached this number – and he reached it faster than President Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012.

The Sanders campaign has touted its goal of hitting one million online donations by tonight’s deadline to spur more individuals to donate.

Sanders has benefited from his on line presence and social media to rapidly go from a long shot to a real contender for the Democratic nomination. Alternet reports that Sanders Has an Army of Die-Hard Facebook Fans, While Clinton’s Campaign Is Trying to Buy Popularity

Bernie Sanders might still be trailing Hillary in all the national polls, but late last month he took the lead in a more newfangled — if possibly meaningless — measure of political strength: Facebook love. According to data obtained by Quintly, a social media analytics firm, Sanders’ presidential campaign page began the day of Saturday, August 22 with 1,197,290 likes to Clinton’s 1,199,797. By the end of the day, he had 1,218,879 to her 1,205,437. His lead has only increased since then.

Sanders’ success comes despite some suggestions that the Clinton campaign has been padding its totals on Facebook with purchased likes. Back in April, Vocative, a data mining media site, reported that Clinton’s presidential campaign page was more popular among Facebook users in Baghdad than any American city. And a further side-by-side comparison of both candidates’ page data shows that, over the last month, 95% of Sanders’ growth came from within the United States, while for Clinton that number is only 74%.

Oftentimes, so-called “click farms” are based out of developing countries and employ legions of low-paid workers to create fake Facebook profiles and then like the pages of clients. Clinton has seen strong growth over the last several weeks in followers in developing countries. To cite a single example, her followers in Myanmar tripled, to 18,150. (By contrast, Sanders’ share of foreign followers is much smaller and comes mostly from Western Europe.) This doesn’t necessarily mean Clinton’s campaign was paying click-farms directly — sometimes customers buy ads from Facebook, which promises to generate a certain number of likes, and those end up coming from click farms — but that didn’t stop some Reddit users from accusing her of buying likes to stave off Sanders…

Whether or not her campaign bought followers directly, there is a precedent for an organization led by Hillary Clinton purchasing Facebook likes: the State Department spent $630,000 on them between 2011 and 2013, when she was secretary of state, according to an inspector general’s report

In deciding which post appears in a user’s news feed, Facebook relies heavily on engagement, so that even if a user liked both Clinton’s and Sanders’ pages, if a Clinton post attracted a dozen likes and comments and a Sanders post attracted hundreds, the Sanders post would appear at the top of the news feed while Clinton’s might not be seen at all…

In the meantime, Sanders’ posts are continuing to be shared by users who like his page, exposing their friends to him, who then may like his page, causing his popular posts to appear at the top of their news feeds, cementing their loyalty — and the cycle continues.

I have certainly noticed how this cycle continues, with Sanders’ supporters sharing stories to both their personal pages and a huge number of pro-Sanders Facebook groups, leading to continued spread of stories. Once people start sharing a story, their friends share it to spread it further. While prior to the Sanders campaign it was rare for a blog post here to receive even one hundred Facebook likes, it has now become common to have thousands of likes. The most popular story I have noticed has been a post from late June entitled Former Clinton Adviser Predicts Bernie Sanders Will Beat Hillary Clinton. This post has now exceeded 21 thousand Facebook likes. After I noticed how this number was climbing I temporarily added a comment at the end of the post asking visitor where they found the link and readers responded with multiple different places. (The blog was not set up to share on Facebook back when I was supporting Obama over Clinton in 2008, bringing in heavier traffic from Obama supporters, so I cannot compare this to previous campaigns.)

This coverage for Sanders on social media is very likely helping to spread news of his campaign when mainstream media coverage is more limited. This type of publicity should also help Sanders compete with a campaign which has more money to pay for advertising. I also bet that many of those contributing and spreading information about Sanders on line are not people who generally turn out to vote for the Democrats. This is a resource which the party cannot afford to ignore.

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