Long before the 2016 primary season kicked off, Sen. Bernie Sanders was the most talked-about presidential candidate on Reddit, the online discussion forum that has helped fuel the Vermont senator's underdog democratic socialist campaign, according to a Pew Research Center report released Thursday.
Reddit has played a significant role in this campaign, with millions of daily visitors sharing news stories and discussing candidates' policies on the site. About one in four American adults are Reddit users, and seven in 10 Reddit users get their news on the site. Nearly half say they spend time on the site reading about the presidential campaign. The Pew Research Center analyzed 165 million Reddit comments to reach its findings.
Sanders' appeal on Reddit is little surprise when you consider the users' makeup. Nearly half of all Reddit news users call themselves liberal, compared with 24 percent of all adults who do the same. Reddit users are about 71 percent male, and 59 percent are 18 to 29 years old, demographics that match up nicely with Sanders' high support among young male voters, often called "Bernie Bros" by the media.
In all, Sanders, who backs free college tuition and often rails against Wall Street, was mentioned in about 165,000 comments in May, June and September 2015, long before Iowa held the first caucuses in February. The main Sanders discussion forum, or subreddit, /r/SandersForPresident, allowed fans to discuss his views and volunteer and raise funds for the candidate. In contrast, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was named in about 85,000 comments, and Donald Trump, who made headlines last summer for remarks like branding Mexicans as rapists, came up about 73,000 times.
The Pew study did not include findings that reflected what Reddit users were discussing after the presidential campaign went into full gear this year with a nonstop parade of primary contests, debates and forums. The report was first released in February before an updated version was published Thursday.
Recent media reports suggest Sanders and Reddit have not parted ways. In March, Sanders thanked the social news site for helping him score a number of victories against Clinton. In a message posted to the site, he said: “Reddit, you have supported me since this campaign first began, and for that, I thank you.”
For Clinton and Trump fans not feeling the Bern, there's also the subreddit Enough Sanders Spam. It has more than 6,000 subscribers.
“This sub is to just laugh at all the ridiculousness that occurs with Bernie, his campaign and his supporters," redditor yzlautum recently wrote.