Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) got hailed as the winner of last night’s Democratic debate — by the Republican National Committee and by Drudge Report users.
With nearly 300,000 votes cast this morning, Sanders had 55 percent in the Drudge poll with former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) in second with 25 percent. Hillary Clinton trailed with 9 percent.
The RNC sent out a morning email titled “Why Bernie Sanders won,” citing his victories in a Frank Luntz focus group as well as CNN and Fusion focus groups. Sanders also outpaced the other candidates in Google searches, suggesting that his mission to introduce himself to the country went as planned.
“Hillary Clinton may be the strongest debater on the stage – she was in 2008 too – but it was Bernie Sanders that won the hearts and interest of Democrat voters,” said the RNC memo.
The Sanders campaign naturally agreed, boasting of their “big win” in Vegas and noting he also won user polls at TIME, U.S. News and World Report (where he got 84 percent of the vote), and Slate. Bernie was also the most retweeted candidate of the night on Twitter.
Searches and social media for Sanders particularly peaked when he came to Clinton’s defense and said “the American people are tired of hearing about your damn emails.”
The Sanders camp said they reeled in a “fundraising bonanza” from the evening, with more than $1.3 million raised in the first four hours after the debate began from 37,600 individual contributions.
In the five minutes after the debate ended, Bernie pulled in $100,000.
The RNC’s praise was naturally about more than lauding Bernie’s performance — it was about going after Hillary.
“The Democrat debate was a predictably stale evening of liberal politicians proposing to spend trillions more that we don’t have. Considering the weak caliber of Clinton’s competition, it speaks volumes that she continues to flip-flop and change positions in an attempt to save her faltering campaign,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.
“Judging from tonight, it’s clear why the Democrat National Committee limited the number of debates – their bench of candidates for the most powerful office in the world is laughable at best,” Priebus added. “Clinton needed to shine and she came up short.”