Why Bernie Sanders goes viral so often? Vermont Senator is most followed legislator on social media in 6 years
Sanders has a following of 21.7 million combined on Facebook and Twitter, and which helps in amplifying any viral moment
Despite being one of the oldest lawmakers in Congress, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is a hit among the youth of the country. This is proven by the fact that he has the most number of social media followers, Facebook and Twitter combined - a record he has been holding for the last six year, undefeated by any other legislators.
According to a study by Pew Research Center, when one rounds up his followers on both these platforms, Sanders has a following of 21.7 million. From January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2020, Pew tallied the number of social media followers each legislator had and as it turns out, the top three spots with the highest number of followers are Sanders, Democratic New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with 12.72 million followers, and Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney with 12.04 million followers. Before Kamala Harris went from being a California senator to the first female vice president of the United States, she had over 16.85 million followers, making her the second-most followed legislator after Sanders.
Why is Bernie Sander's so popular?
One reason behind his popularity could be the fact that Sanders was a House representative from 1991 to 2007 and has been a Senator 2007 onwards. He previously ran for president, as have Romney and Harris, which also partially explains their large fan following. However, this cannot alone explain Sanders' increasing fanbase as previous presidential candidates like Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Democratic New Jersey Senator Cory Booker have far smaller followings at 6.53 million and 6 million, respectively.
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez both seem to have gained a devoted progressive following on their social media accounts given that both of them are strong voices in the Democratic Party's progressive left-wing, which has often felt marginalized in their own party, which often ends up championing centrist or moderate voices. Interestingly, their accounts are also followed by conservative opponents who have often quoted their words against what they see as "extreme leftist" Democrats.
Bernie Sanders, the fashion icon?
As we previously reported, Sanders also makes himself go viral even when he doesn't mean to. The most recent example being his casual outfit completed with a pair of mittens that he wore on President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony. Sporting his signature windswept hair, his characteristic grey puffer jacket, and his oversized mittens -- as well as a huge manila envelope -- Sanders immediately became a meme, as many took to social media to laud his appearance at the Inauguration Day festivities as well as point out the fun side of it.
Buzzfeed political reporter Ruby Cramer was quick to point out the significance of Sanders' outfit, tweeting about his mittens, "Bernie’s mittens are made by Jen Ellis, a teacher from Essex Junction, Vt. She gave them to him 2+ years ago and was surprised when he began wearing them on the campaign trail. They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles."
Bernie’s mittens are made by Jen Ellis, a teacher from Essex Junction, Vt. She gave them to him 2+ years ago and was surprised when he began wearing them on the campaign trail. They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles. pic.twitter.com/ErLr29lY2t— Ruby Cramer (@rubycramer) January 20, 2021
According to The Boston Globe, Ellis first knit the oversized "oven gloves" for staff at her daughters' daycare, which included Sanders' daughter-in-law, Liza Driscoll. She made a bonus pair for Sanders as well and was "surprised when he began wearing them on the campaign trail."