Quirky self-help author Marianne Williamson emerged as an unlikely big star of the second Democrat debate, garnering the most Google searches across America and in 49 of 50 states. She was also the fourth most-tweeted-about candidate, according to Twitter.
Before the debate began, mentions of her on social media appeared to be mostly mocking. However, as the debate continued, her responses began garnering huge applause from the studio audience, and many began reacting on social media to her performance.
American Conservative Union chair Matt Schlapp tweeted, with a hint of mocking, “Crow loves Marianne Williamson I hope she breaks through… oh please”:
Crowd loves Marianne Williamson I hope she breaks through… oh please
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) July 31, 2019
But Donald Trump Jr. tweeted without irony, “People are gonna think that I’m trolling but compared to what else is up on this stage I think Marianne Williamson is actually winning this thing”:
People are gonna think that I’m trolling but compared to what else is up on this stage I think Marianne Williamson is actually winning this thing. This is amazing. No question she seems to be drawing the biggest applause of the night.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 31, 2019
Political journalists also began to note her stronger-than-expected performance.
Washington Examiner reporter and New York Post columnist Salena Zito tweeted that Williamson “is literally the voice of reason”:
Marianne Williamson is literally the voice of reason #CNNDebate
— SalenaZito (@SalenaZito) July 31, 2019
New York magazine writer Olivia Nuzzi tweeted, “Jesus Christ, is Marianne Williamson going to win this debate?”:
Jesus Christ, is Marianne Williamson going to win this debate?
— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) July 31, 2019
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat noted dryly, “So we just watched Marianne Williamson win the race portion of the debate”:
So we just watched Marianne Williamson win the race portion of the debate.
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) July 31, 2019
National Review senior political correspondent Jim Geraghty tried to make sense of her appeal, tweeting that she is “speaking for and to everyone at home who tunes out of political arguments”:
Oh, man, Marianne Williamson is speaking for and to everyone at home who tunes out of political arguments. She’s playing a completely different game than the rest, and that should worry every other candidate using the traditional campaign playbook.
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) July 31, 2019
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even took note of her appeal, tweeting, “According to audience reaction….. @MarWilliamson won the debate”:
According to audience reaction….. @MarWilliamson won the debate.
The only thing more bizarre than the candidates and their ideas was the audience who seemed to cheer at the most extreme ideas. Where do they find these people?
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 31, 2019
There was still plenty of mocking from the right. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joked that Williamson never moved on from Woodstock:
I was watching Marianne Williamson & thought she looked familiar & I had met her somewhere. Then it hit me! We met at Woodstock! What's different now is that I moved past the 60's. She loved it so much she just stayed.
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) July 31, 2019
And conservative journalist Michelle Malkin joked that she would lead a “Qi Gong session” after a commercial break:
Marianne Williamson proposing a half-trillion-dollars in reparations to cure "emotional turbulence." Everyone will get an iPhone with the Calm App and copies of her entire self-help book collection. Also: When #DemDebate returns from break, she will lead Qi Gong session.
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) July 31, 2019
There was plenty of mocking from the left, too. Show host Jimmy Kimmel compared Williamson to the ridiculed trailer for the movie Cats:
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) July 31, 2019
The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah tweeted a GIF of Williamson on a magic carpet:
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) July 31, 2019
But some liberal writers and activists appeared to express genuine fondness for her or some of her views.
Vox’s Ezra Klein tweeted that Williamson was “trending” in his heart:
#MarianneWilliamson is trending in my heart
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) July 31, 2019
Waleed Shahid, spokesman for the progressive Justice Democrats PAC — which backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in 2016 and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in 2018 — tweeted, “Marianne Williamson is correct” on racism:
Marianne Williamson is correct that Americans are literally sick because of racism.
We have one of the weakest welfare states in the industrialized world because racism destroys the bonds of solidarity between citizens so whites don't support programs that seem to support POC.
— Waleed Shahid (@_waleedshahid) July 31, 2019
“You know what? I dug Marianne Williamson’s opening,” tweeted New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali:
You know what? I dug Marianne Williamson's opening. She's talking about amoral systems of oppression and false gods, yo! #DemDebate
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) July 31, 2019
The self-help author running for president was the most Google-searched candidate during the debate and the most-searched candidate in 49 of 50 states, with Montana as the exception.