GOP debate social media winner is… Bernie

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders © Jay Paul
Eleven Republicans hoping to run for president in 2016 debated for hours on CNN, with many claiming victory. The social media crown, however, once again went to a man who wasn’t even there – the Democratic contender Bernie Sanders.

With 22.9 million viewers, Wednesday night’s debate was the “most watched program in CNN history,” according to the network. The candidates’ words, facial expressions or body language were endlessly analyzed by talking heads across the TV networks and the Internet. It was Sanders’s pithy dismissal of the Republicans as out of touch that garnered the most likes and shares on Twitter and Facebook, though.

“The evening was really pretty sad. This country and our planet face enormous problems. And the Republican candidates barely touched upon them tonight. And when they did, they were dead wrong on virtually every position they took,” Sanders wrote on his Facebook page, getting over 180,000 likes and 35,000 shares.

The evening was really pretty sad. This country and our planet face enormous problems. And the Republican candidates...

Posted by Bernie Sanders on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The independent Senator from Vermont, who is running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, also had the most-retweeted post of the night during the August 6 debate.

Sanders live-tweeted Wednesday’s event, using the hashtag #DebateWithBernie.

Sanders lasted for about two and a half hours before giving up in exasperation.

Industry watchers say Sanders’s Facebook assessment of the debate was the most popular social media post of the evening, unmatched by any of the GOP candidates.

"It wasn't even close," Brandon Silverman of CrowdTangle, a company that measures and analyzes social media interactions, told The Hill.

That did not stop some Republicans from claiming victory. “In every metric that matters, Ben Carson won tonight,” his campaign manager Barry Bennett wrote on Facebook, attracting 128,000 likes and 8,700 shares.

Tonight, we accomplished everything we imagined. Dr. Carson showed America a different kind of leader. A leader that...

Posted by Dr. Ben Carson on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A neurosurgeon from Michigan, Carson has been polling well recently. The most popular candidate is still Donald Trump, however, who tweeted that the debate was “so much fun.”

Trump had something else to smile about. A Drudge Report poll showed him winning the debate by a sizeable margin. Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina came in a distant second, while all the other candidates polled in single digits.