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Democratic leaders should stop worrying about Bernie Sanders.
I know, that conflicts with the growing unease among some in the Democratic Party that a Sanders-led presidential ticket will be a disaster up-and-down the ballot. The unease seems quickly morphing into fear as Sanders has done well in the first three primary/caucus states.
What we are seeing is a divide between some party leaders and the Democrats who are actually voting. That’s not unusual. Just four years ago at this time, the Republican establishment was in fear that a seemingly off-the-wall guy named Donald Trump would win the GOP nomination. Many are not going to admit that now.
The election is eight months or so away, but it’s not as if we are without information. Let’s look at the polls.
Political junkies are well aware of Real Clear Politics and Nate Silver’s 538 blog – websites that give you a daily rundown of just about every available poll.
Whatever poll you look at – no matter if it is national, or state-by-state – there is no discernible drop-off in support for Sanders as compared to the other Democratic candidates. And in many polls, he is doing better than the others.
In a Feb. 23 poll by CBS news, Sanders is at 47 percent in a head-to-head match-up with Trump, who is at 44 percent. Sanders’ 3-point advantage is the best of any of the Democratic candidates. Just for the record, in this poll, Joe Biden beats Trump by 2-points and Elizabeth Warren beats him by 1-point. Trump is tied, or slightly ahead of the other candidates.
A poll just out Monday from Roanoke College looked at Virginia, a state now leaning left. All the Democrats beat Trump in this poll, but Sanders’ margin of 9-points is the widest gap.
Let’s look at a weekend CBS poll in Michigan, a must-win state for Democrats. Sanders beats Trump by 7-points in this poll, which is again the largest margin for any candidate. Biden leads Trump by 4-points in this poll; Warren leads by three,
And so it goes with other polls as well. All this leads to an obvious question. If Sanders, the socialist, is destined to be such a disaster for Democrats, why isn’t that showing up in the polling?
Clearly, if Biden and Mike Bloomberg were polling at 46 or 47 percent just about anywhere and Sanders was at 39 percent that would be telling. But that is not what we are seeing.
The feeling here is that Sanders is attracting new voters – individuals not on the radar screen of established politicians. The “Bernie campaign” energizes people many of whom are young. That’s a very good thing for Democrats.
Look back to 2016. Hillary Clinton, rightly or wrongly, was just not a candidate who excited people. Democrats voted for her because she represented Democratic philosophy. But as Democrats are painfully aware, that wasn’t enough to win.
Sanders is different. He has an energetic following,
Which makes him somewhat similar – ideology aside – to Trump.
As the now-president made one crazy statement after another four years ago – including the fascinating charge that Ted Cruz’ father conspired to kill JFK and a vow to repeal and replace Obamacare in one day – his support didn’t ebb at all.
You got the feeling – at least retroactively – that Trump’s supporters simply embraced what he wanted to do. Whether he could accomplish it or not was immaterial. That’s certainly the case with the wall for which Mexico was going to pay. I was at the Trump rally in Wildwood last month when he was again talking about the wall as if the last three years never happened.
So swinging around to the other side, my take is that Sanders’ supporters like the idea of Medicare for all, regardless of the fact this is something even a fully-Democratic-controlled Congress is unlikely to pass. Those on the left want to believe Sanders can make it happen; just like many on the right still think Mexico is going to pay for a wall on the southern border.
In both cases, this translates into political support.
So, the take here is judging from the polls, and the enthusiasm factor, a Sanders candidacy would not be a disaster for Democrats at all. The disaster would be if he is the voters’ legitimate choice and someone else is the nominee.