Sunday night’s Democratic presidential debate was an even battle of policy—Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Gov. Martin O’Malley, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were well-matched in terms of their plans for economic reform, healthcare, foreign policy, and social issues.
However, Sanders acquitted himself particularly well; despite a minor transgression on the topic of gun control, he demonstrated remarkable fortitude and increased specificity in his views on ISIS, Wall Street, healthcare, and campaign finance reform.
The debate was close to a tie, but by the end, Sanders resonated more deeply. His ideas arrived at the root of many issues, laying out why we are seeing such discontent in the American people.
Mainstream media seems to disagree. Publications such as CNN, Slate Magazine, Politico, and the New York Times all essentially cited Hillary as the winner. Others, such as The Washington Post, gave the win to Sanders, but there was no overwhelming consensus that Sanders had taken the victory.
The online polls (though informal, and undoubtedly skewed toward a younger demographic), however, told a completely different story.
Similar polls on Twitter showed Sanders as the clear winner:
In a poll of almost 22,000 votes, 72 percent of Huffington Post voters said Sanders emerged victorious. 73 percent of 12,000 Politco voters and 75 percent of 8,600 NBC Nightly News voters agreed.
Who won tonight's #DemDebate?— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) January 18, 2016
POLL: Who do you feel had the best #DemDebate?— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) January 18, 2016
This interesting disconnect has been discussed often by Sanders supporters, who claim Sanders continuously receives the short of end of the stick in terms of mainstream media coverage, and that much of the media is in Hillary’s pocket.
It also poses a complex scenario for Hillary: while official polls still have her about 25 points ahead of Sanders nationally, polls for Iowa and New Hampshire show it to be a close race. Pundits are questioning whether she will witness a repeat of 2008—Barack Obama was very much behind Hillary in December of 2007, but surged to victory during the first months of 2008. Sanders could embark on a similar path with his grassroots campaign and millennial support.
The contradictory polling information makes it difficult to determine what the outcome will be in February. However, it’s best not to count out Sanders’s supporters yet—if Twitter is any indication of how committed they are to the candidate, he may just eke out a win.
Banner Image Credit: Reuters