Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang has stunned political observers by winning the first snap poll after the second Democratic presidential primary debate.
Yang topped the poll by a significant margin despite having by far the least speaking time in Thursday’s debate, remaining poised and refusing to interrupt even as other candidates descended into shouting.
His signature promise is a universal basic income of $1,000 monthly for adult U.S. citizens, which he calls a ‘freedom dividend’ and says is vital in the face of looming job destruction by the forces of robotic automation.
‘I would pass a $1,000 freedom dividend for every American adult starting at age 18,’ Yang said at the debate when asked what his first act as president would be, vowing to ‘get the boot off of people’s throats.’
Former tech executive Andrew Yang is the surprise winner of a snap online poll asking who won Thursday’s presidential primary debate
By midnight on Thursday, Yang had taken 28 percent of the vote in Drudge Report’s famed snap online poll, easily besting second-place Senator Kamala Harris, who took 17 percent.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand ranked last in the poll, garnering just 2 percent of the vote.
Front-runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders ranked fifth and six respectively in the poll.
Yang stunned onlookers before the debate even began, when he walked on stage without a tie, a first for a man in a modern presidential debate.
In the debate, he was given a meager two minutes and 56 seconds of speaking time, less than a quarter of the time Biden spent speaking.
Yang devoted nearly all of his time explaining his proposed freedom dividend, which he wants to fund with a value-added tax.
Yang was the shock winner of an online poll conducted immediately after the debate
‘We’d save money on things like incarceration, homelessness services, emergency room health care, and just the value gains from having a stronger, healthier, mentally healthier population would increase GDP by $700 billion,’ he said.
Yang believes the freedom dividend would also help address issues such as climate change by allowing people to focus on long-term issues rather than daily survival.
His dark horse campaign has attracted a devoted online following, which have dubbed themselves the ‘Yang Gang.’
‘Yang is the ONLY candidate who actually cares about attracting centrists and independents,’ wrote evolutionary psychology professor Geoffrey Miller on Twitter after the debate.
‘Andrew Yang is the only candidate to say thank you because Andrew Yang is the only candidate who doesn’t feel entitled to be on the stage because the world owes them,’ another user wrote.
Yang’s signature promise is a universal basic income of $1,000 monthly for adult U.S. citizens, which he calls a ‘freedom dividend’ and says is vital in the face of looming automation
‘Shout-out to Andrew Yang. Not interrupting, keeping answers concise despite not getting many questioned directed his way,’ wrote photojournalist David Scrivner.
Yang hammered his message home in his concluding statement, appealing to Americans across the political spectrum.
‘Democrats and Americans around the country have one question for their nominee, and that is, who can beat Donald Trump in 2020? That is the right question,’ Yang said.
‘And the right candidate to beat Donald Trump will be solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected, and we’ll have a vision of a trickle-up economy that is already drawing thousands of disaffected Trump voters, conservatives, independents, and libertarians, as well as Democrats and progressives,’ he continued.
‘I am that candidate. I can build a much broader coalition to beat Donald Trump. It is not left; it is not right. It is forward. And that is where I’ll take the country in 2020.’
Yang reacts after the second Democratic presidential primary debate on Thursday