Ahead of Saturday's Democratic debate, people are still feeling the Bern, at least on Twitter. The independent senator from Vermont garnered 265,000 tweets over the last 48 hours before the face-off started — over double those of front-runner Hillary Clinton's 130,000.
Sanders is polling behind Clinton but ahead of former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. But Sanders has been dominating the conversation online since the early days of race season. He has even outshone his Republican competitors on social media. During this past week's GOP debate, sponsored by CNN and Facebook, Sanders — who obviously was not onstage that night — gained the most number of followers on Twitter.
However, the Clinton campaign has been moving fast and gaining more online support. Clinton added 254,000 followers on Twitter since the previous debate. Sanders followed close by with 204,000, while O'Malley had only 14,000.
Clinton has also been teaching and guiding those supporters in how to use the microblogging site. This week, the campaign team led a social media training session that included style tips. Digital campaign organizer Jess Morales Rocketto is continuing to take to Twitter to provide guidance in the hours leading up:
.@HillaryClinton tweeters, here's another tip: Rock the dot! Whenever you start your tweets with a handle, put a dot BEFORE the handle.
— J. Morales Rocketto (@JessLivMo) December 20, 2015
And one big supporter of Clinton has already been building up momentum and using the campaign's #ImWithHer hashtag.
— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) December 20, 2015
The Sanders campaign also has invested heavily in its online presence in part a grassroots effort to drum up support. At the first Democratic debate Oct. 13 on CNN, the Sanders campaign paid for a promoted trend — one is allowed on Twitter per day — with the hashtag #DebateWithBernie. The effort, in part, led him to receive the most mentions that night.
Since the last Democratic debate, which aired on CBS Nov. 14, Sanders received 2.6 million mentions on Twitter, compared with Clinton's 2.1 million and O'Malley's 120,000. Twitter was a co-sponsor in that second debate.
During Saturday's debate, it will be a test to see who dominates the conversation. In the last two debates, Clinton and Sanders have been fairly even, with Sanders coming out on top in the first debate and Clinton in the second.