Will Bernie Sanders’ Livestream Event be the Future of Grassroots Campaigns?

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Bernie Sanders seems to have a knack for gathering large crowds wherever he visits. When he spoke in Kensett, Iowa, for example, there were more people at his rally than actually lived in the town.

But Wednesday night, his campaign tried something different. Instead of physically rounding up a large crowd to hear him speak, he gathered a nationwide campaign organization meeting, digitally.

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According to the Sanders campaign and the New York Times, over 3,500 events were officially set up and more than 100,000 “would be foot soldiers” tuned in to the digital meeting, nationwide. Sanders said that this was the single most important day of his campaign thus far.

Bernie Amplifies Obama’s Model

The 2016 election cycle is not the first to utilize YouTube to reach mass amounts of voters. Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign utilized the Internet to raise small donor dollars, and then President Obama ushered in a new era of online campaigning in 2008 when he was able to effectively win “the Internet vote” by dominating the online realm.

For the 2016 election, candidates are experimenting with livestream services like Periscope and Meerkat, in addition to YouTube, with the hopes of expanding their audience for any given event.

Turning Passive Voters Into Potential Volunteers

After Sanders finished his usual speech about income inequality, healthcare and the economy, Claire Sandberg, the campaign’s digital organizing director, took control of the livestream and walked potential volunteers through the steps to get involved in the campaign.

The Sanders campaign is using tactics to make signing up to volunteer as simple as possible. By texting “work” to 826-23, a would-be volunteer is sent a link to an online volunteer sign up form.

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Sanders claims to already have over 175,000 volunteers, but can his campaign continue to keep the momentum going?

There’s Still Not Quite a Bernie Breakthrough in the Polls

Despite Sanders’ 15 minutes of headline fame, he still remains the underdog in the Democratic primary. The Vermont Senator currently trails Hillary Clinton by 40 points – though that is the closest he has polled to her so far.

This article originally appeared at I Agree to See.

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