Did you know the third Democratic debate is tonight? Before yesterday, it seemed almost nobody did. The debate being on the Saturday night before Christmas explains why. However, things got a lot more interesting yesterday.
After the DNC suspended the Sanders campaign’s access to their crucial voter database early Friday morning, the Sanders campaign quickly went on the offensive. The manager of the Sanders campaign, Jeff Weaver, said that the DNC’s actions were a “heavy-handed attempt to undermine our campaign.” It didn’t take long for Sanders’ supporters to jump into action; a MoveOn petition to restore the Sanders campaign’s access the voter database was signed by over 250,000 people yesterday. Various organizations that have already thrown their support behind the Vermont Senator also came to his defense, along with other media figures: the National Nurses United union called the DNC’s actions “the latest blatant effort by the Democratic National Committee to rig the primary process“, Democracy For America’s executive director said “The Democratic National Committee’s decision to attack the campaign that figured out the problem, rather than go after the vendor that made the mistake, is profoundly damaging to the party’s Democratic process“, former Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb tweeted “Good for Bernie. The DNC is nothing more than an arm for the Clinton campaign.“, and earlier this morning Donald Trump tweeted “See, Sanders backed Hillary on E-mails at the debate, hurting himself, and then she threw him under the bus (but failed). Disloyal person!“.
Clinton’s campaign finally commented on the matter last night. Press Secretary for the Clinton campaign, Brain Fallon, tweeted “If you are so proud of your grassroots organization, you should not need to resort to stealing campaign data.” Will Hillary Clinton echo this sentiment in tonight’s debate? Or will she take the high road, similar to Sanders’ first debate comment addressing Clinton’s email media scandal, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.”
Last night, Sanders’ campaign officially filed a lawsuit against the DNC to restore their access to the DNC’s voter database. This morning, it seems that the Sanders campaign reached a deal with the DNC, and access to the voter database file has been restored. After the apparent deal, Clinton’s Press Secretary said “We are pleased that the Sanders campaign has agreed to submit to an independent audit to determine the full extent of the intrusion its staff carried out earlier this week, and also to ensure that Sanders’ voter file no longer contains any of the proprietary data that was taken from us,” he added “We believe this audit should proceed immediately, and, pending its findings, we expect further disciplinary action to be taken as appropriate.” However, the Sanders campaign is still demanding an independent audit of the DNC’s record for the entire campaign season, so they are not necessarily dropping their suit against the DNC just yet.
One of the main complaints of Sanders’ supporters has been the lack of media coverage. A recent study from Tyndall Report found that Sanders has had only ten minutes of stand-alone campaign coverage from the beginning of this year to the end of November. Contrasting this with the 234 minutes that Trump has received in the same time frame, shows that Sanders’ supporters have a valid complaint. However, yesterday Bernie Sanders got more mainstream network coverage than he has in recent memory. While some of the coverage came with a somewhat negative slant, many visitors (such as Tulsi Gabbard) to television networks also sided with the Sanders’ campaign.
These recent events could end up being a blessing in disguise for Bernie Sanders. All of this happening just a day before the third Democratic debate is bound to attract at least a few extra viewers, which might make DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz upset. Another huge benefit for the Sanders campaign has been the overwhelming support and donations coming after yesterday’s events. While official donation numbers for the past couple days are yet to be released, the SandersForPresident subreddit raised over $50,000 alone yesterday, which is about 10% of the total it’s users have raised currently according to their donation tracker.
What should we expect to hear at tonight’s debate? Surely the recent data breach and the following lawsuit will be brought up, but how much of the debate time will be about the recent events? Nobody knows for sure, but there is one thing that is for sure: you will need extra popcorn.