Bernie's winning the Snapchat primary: But IRL Joe Biden is still way ahead

New social media poll: Biden underperforms among Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram users, but holds big lead

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published May 14, 2019 4:35PM (EDT)

Bernie Sanders; Joe Biden (AP/Getty/Salon)
Bernie Sanders; Joe Biden (AP/Getty/Salon)

Support for 2020 Democratic candidates on social media differs greatly depending on the social network voters use, according to a new Morning Consult poll.

The poll broke down social media users’ views on the Democratic primary field and found that former Vice President Joe Biden is a lot more popular than the rest of the pack on Facebook but is neck-and-neck with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders among Snapchat users.

The poll confirmed what many Biden supporters have long believed: Twitter is not real life. Just 32 percent of Twitter users support the former veep, compared to 44 percent of all non-Twitter users. Biden's support on Twitter is even worse among self-described "very liberal" Twitter users, with just 22 percent backing his candidacy.

Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg all have slightly higher support among Twitter users than non-Twitter users.

Facebook, where the age demographics skew older, is a lot friendlier to the 76-year-old Biden. Forty percent of Facebook users back Biden while 20 percent back Sanders, and only 8 percent support Warren.

Snapchat, which has the youngest demographic among the big four social networks, sees a lot more support for Sanders. He and Biden are essentially even, with 30 percent of Snapchat users backing Biden and 29 percent backing Sanders. Support for candidates like Warren and Buttigieg is correspondingly lower on Snapchat than on Facebook and Twitter.

Biden also leads among Instagram users with 33 percent, but Sanders is close behind at 25 percent.

The social media polling corresponds largely with age demographics seen in previous polls. Younger voters tend to gravitate toward Sanders (who is the oldest candidate in the field) while older voters tend to support Biden.

According to the Morning Consult poll, 33 percent of voters under 30 support Sanders while 24 percent support Biden. On the other hand, 52 percent of voters over 65 support Biden, while just 9 percent back Sanders.

Cable news viewers, who tend to be much older than social media users (the average viewer for both Fox News and MSNBC is around 65), are also much likelier to support Biden. The former veep polls at 43 percent among CNN viewers, 44 percent among MSNBC viewers, and 42 percent among Fox News viewers. (To be clear, that means Fox News viewers who identify as Democratic voters, likely a pretty small group.) Sanders is a lot less popular among CNN viewers (16 percent) and MSNBC viewers (13 percent) than he is among Fox News viewers (22 percent). All the other leading Democratic candidates, however, are significantly more popular among CNN and MSNBC viewers than among Fox News viewers.

The poll found little difference in voters' views based on the newspapers they read, but it did find that Biden and Sanders are both more popular among readers of the Wall Street Journal than readers of the the New York Times or Washington Post. Warren, Buttigieg and Harris, on the other hand, were significantly less popular among Wall Street Journal readers than the other papers.

Media use aside, 39 percent of all potential Democratic primary voters in the poll said they plan to vote for Biden to be the nominee. He thus retains a large lead over Sanders, the only other candidate in double-digits, at 19 percent. Warren and Harris are tied for third at 8 percent each, while Buttigieg is at 6 percent and O’Rourke at 5 percent.

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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