Greater Enthusiasm Seen For Sanders On Social Media Might Propel Him To Victory

Anyone on social media will not be surprised by this. The Washington Post displayed two word clouds from Zignal Labs showing what is being said about the candidates. The top is obviously on Hillary Clinton, and the bottom on Bernie Sanders:

Word Cloud Clinton

Word Cloud Sanders

The words used to describe Clinton are quite different than those used in relation to Sanders, with the largest words being unethical, behavior, fired, and lies for Clinton. According to the article, “It’s driven by the intense dislike for Clinton by activists on the left and the right, but mainly the right. Their constant drumbeat of criticism overwhelms any positive buzz that the Democratic frontrunner gets from her fans.”

The situation is far different for Bernie Sanders:

Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders actually garnered more attention online than Clinton during the past month. The Vermont senator was mentioned more than 2.8 million times across all forms of media, compared with 2.2 million mentions for Clinton.

And the Sanders mentions tended to be more positive.

It is not surprising that Sanders is both receiving more attention and this his favorable attention outweighs the negative.

It is also not surprising that the situation is different with regards to television coverage:

The race continues to look sharply different on television than it does on social media. While Sanders received 57 percent of the Democratic chatter on Twitter, compared with 42 percent for Clinton, the former Secretary of State received 54 percent of the month’s television mentions among the Democratic candidates, compared to Sanders’ 35 percent.

The greater quantity and more favorable view of social media comments on Sanders likely relates to the greater enthusiasm for Sanders, which could have a major impact both in the primaries, and in getting out the Democratic vote in the general election.

Bud Budowsky discussed this factor at The Hill in a post entitled Sanders can win Iowa and New Hampshire

He was not referring specifically to the above data, but his impression is the same:

…Sanders has two things that are pure gold in presidential politics. First, he has intensely devoted and idealistic supporters who are passionately committed to his cause and will turn out in droves on caucus and primary days. Second, he has powerful means of communications through social media, the Internet generally, and word of mouth among his devoted supporters that drive his message, his small-donor fundraising and his statewide organizations in ways that are not visible on political television and poorly understood by political pundits.

The truth is that, whatever her many virtues, Democratic rival Hillary Clinton does suffer from an enthusiasm gap. This is one reason she has underperformed among small donors compared to Sanders and why she should be worried about her supporters not turning out in droves on caucus and primary days.

By contrast, there is close to a 100 percent relationship between citizens who passionately support Sanders and those who will turn out to vote for him. They care, they believe and they will vote in very large numbers because they, like Sanders, are fighting for a cause they believe in and a vision of an America they dream of building together.

It is certainly too early to predict the actual outcome, but I am optimistic that the degree of enthusiasm seen for Sanders will help him outperform the polls, which are generally quite unreliable prior to primaries and caucuses. Democrats should also keep this in mind when deciding which candidate has the best chance to get people out to vote in the general election.


The Hill also looked at the problems with Clinton’s lack of likability in a subsequent article:

Allies of Hillary Clinton are confident she will win the Democratic presidential nomination, but they are worried about one big thing: her likability problem in the general election.

Clinton has rebounded from a rough spring and summer with a strong fall. And while her eyes remain on the primary, she is already testing general election themes against her possible GOP opponents as they do battle in what could be a drawn-out Republican primary.

Presidential elections are often decided on personality instead of specific policies. Along those lines, people in Clinton’s orbit are worried she doesn’t pass the would-you-like-to-have-a-beer-with-her test.

This is probably one of the reasons why Clinton polls so poorly among independents and in the battle ground states, and why Bernie Sanders does as well as Clinton or better in head to head match-ups against Republicans despite lower name recognition.