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Who Won the Debate, According to the Internet


Tuesday’s Democratic debate pitted the five candidates against each other on-stage for the first time in the 2016 election cycle. 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led poll numbers going into debate, earning her a position on center stage. Her main Democratic competitor, Sen. Bernie Sanders, entered the debate with a 25 percent polling average, compared to Clinton’s 43 percent, according to Real Clear Politics.

The three other candidates — former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia senator and Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee — all polled below 1 percent, while Vice President Joe Biden — who has not declared his candidacy — polled  at 17.4 percent. 

Standout debate performances have boosted Republican candidates after their debates, especially Carly Fiorina, who grabbed the spotlight during the first under-card debate and earned herself a spot on the main stage for the second GOP debate

But, who won the Democratic debate? And will he or she see a bump in poll numbers? 

Always-fired-up Sanders had several standout moments. The audience gave Sanders a standing ovation when he agreed with Clinton and said, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” It was also the top social moment of the debate, according to Facebook. In another big moment, moderator Anderson Cooper asked Sanders, who calls himself a Democratic Socialist, whether he considers himself a Capitalist.  Sanders responded, “I believe in a society where all people do well, not just a handful of billionaires.”

Sanders and Clinton detailed policy differences without getting personal, but she often looked beyond the Democrats on-stage with her to the GOP. At one point, she said that Republicans were the enemy of which she was most proud. In another moment, she firmly answered “no” when asked if she wanted to respond when Chafee linked her emails to the credibility of the country. 

Clinton and Sanders largely dominated the debate. Clinton spoke the most, with 31 minutes, and Sanders spoke for 28 minutes, according to The New York Times

The other three candidates spoke less. O’Malley spoke for 17 minutes and 56 seconds. Although he didn’t go after Clinton like some analysts thought he might, he did have a moment responding to a question about #BlackLivesMatter, saying “If we were burying young, poor, white men in these numbers, we’d be marching in the streets.” Webb spoke for 15 minutes and 35 seconds, and used much of his time to complain about how little time he was allowed to speak. Lincoln Chafee spoke the least, at less than 10 minutes. 

According to Google Trends, Bernie Sanders won the debate. He was the most-Googled candidate post-debate in every state and led Google Search results into this morning. Sanders was also the most-discussed candidate on Facebook, followed by Clinton, then Webb. 

In the U.S. News live blog poll, Sanders also led at 82 percent. In CNN’s Facebook poll, although not scientific, Sanders led again, with 75 percent. 

Sanders’ standing increased over the summer, bringing the little-known Independent senator from Vermont to second place in national polls. Impacted by the unescapable email scandal, Clinton’s numbers have gone down. Although commentators have praised Clinton’s debate performance, according to the Internet and social media, Sanders was the winner. He may see another bump in his poll numbers. 

The most searched debate issues were health care, immigration, the economy, Clinton’s emails and abortion. On Facebook, the top issues were race issues, the economy, government ethics, environment/energy policy and guns. Candidates mentioned climate change, guns, Iraq and the middle class the most during the debate, according to The Washington Post



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