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The Online Bernie Bump and the Future of Political Campaigns

Nick Englehart

Posted on February 12, 2020 15:14

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The internet continues to become a more active part of Americans' daily lives. It's no wonder how candidates with a favorable online presence have seen boosts from social media platforms.

I am an avid Reddit user. Or at least I was. A site that used to be filled with cute dog pictures, DIY craft projects including dogs, and funny creative youtube videos with dogs, has turned into a political haven for many. The site features a front page where users upvote the posts they wish to see. The posts with the highest upvotes receive the most attention, therefore, dominating the site. For those who participate, it’s an absolute Democracy of information where the mob often gets its way. 

In recent years the site has become focused heavily on politics. This is likely due to its user base. Reddit was founded in 2005 and fifteen years later it’s demographic has moved steadily to the 20-29 age range. Pew Research found that 67% of those users are male. More so, 71% of people who use Reddit exclusively for their news are male. Reddit's user base has grown up and the site has shifted to politics. This is a huge demographic when you consider that in 2019 Reddit reported 430 million monthly active users (more than twitter) with 49.7% being from the United States. 

Politicians know how effective Reddit can be. Presidents to congressmen have used the platform as a forum to discuss ideology with the site's user base. Reddit's most popular candidate? Bernie Sanders.

When you look at the demographics it makes sense. Sanders himself admitted on Breakfast Club radio, "We were criticized for being too white; that was a correct criticism. We were criticized for being too male; that was a correct criticism." Though Sanders has made strides currently being more popular with people of color than whites and equally popular among men and women. His old base never disappeared.

Today Reddit is inundated with posts about Bernie Sanders and his political successes. Articles that lean in his favor, pictures highlighting his altruism and screenshots of his tweets are posted under front page subreddits named "OurPresident" and "SandersForPresident" This massive online presence undoubtedly has been influential in his popularity among young voters. Sanders himself had multiple "Ask me Anythings" on the website for both of his campaigns. 

Meanwhile, politicians like Warren, Buttigieg, and Biden find no love on the site. Often front page news with their names is in the context of some sort of Gaff. There is no doubt in my mind that the fervor in which Sanders supporters defend and adore him on Reddit has had a real impact on the campaign. 

With social media outpacing print as a source of news and Americans 18-29 getting their news predominantly from social media and news websites; candidates are going to be pushed to engage more and more online. Sites like Reddit are 24-hour campaign machines where your message doesn’t sleep and people you don’t pay advertise for you. Sanders has gained support through his message, his activism, and his honesty but for young people online he is and always has been the only choice.

Nick Englehart

Posted on February 12, 2020 15:14

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Source: FOX News
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Another special election, another Bernie Sanders-inspired Democratic candidate.

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