With Joe Biden still waiting in the wings, weighing his options, and apparently planning for some kind of campaign rollout in April, Bernie Sanders appears to be gaining momentum in the crowded Democratic field. You could say he never really lost the momentum, only the nomination in 2016, but his supporters have continued, unabated, and are now showing up in big numbers for his campaign stops and pushing his early caucus and primary poll numbers way up.
Bernie has never been one to shy away from controversy, and as the Boston Herland reports, he’s working hard on the campaign trail to push his policies despite consistent attacks from President Trump using the “socialist” label:
Among a field of like-minded Democrats vying for a chance to unseat Trump in the 2020 election, Sanders is trying to win potential voters on the idea that he was the first to advocate for those progressive ideals.
“Those ideas that we talked about four years ago that seemed so very radical at that time, well, today, virtually all of those ideas are supported by a majority of the American people and have overwhelming support from Democrats and independents,” Sanders told hundreds of rallygoers in the ballroom of a Concord hotel in his first return to the Granite State since announcing his second run. “They’re ideas that Democratic candidates all across the board are supporting.”
Sanders picked up where he left off during his last run for president, wagging his finger at wage inequalities, the nation’s top one percent of earners, advocating for free tuition and universal health care — and condemning the superdelegate system within the Democratic National Convention, which helped Hillary Clinton lock the nomination in 2016. The DNC voted last August to limit their powers and not allow their votes on the first ballot.
Sanders supporters hadn’t forgotten Sunday that their candidate didn’t receive delegations of certain states like West Virginia, despite winning every county, in the 2016 primary.
It’s very true that the ideas which Bernie pushed in 2016 were considered more “extreme” than they are in 2019 simply due to the movement of the Democratic Party as a whole. Much like the re-alignment under President Trump with Republicans, Democrats are a little more comfortable, on average, of embracing some policies previously thought to be taboo in a national campaign.
Iowa Becomes Biden vs. Bernie
Iowa polling has been generous to Biden and Sanders as they both lead the field within a couple of points of one another:
According to a new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers, 27 percent say Biden is their first choice for president. That’s down slightly from the 32 percent who said the same in December, but it tops the 19 other declared and potential candidates tested.
Biden has a 2-percentage-point advantage over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Though that’s within the poll’s 4.9 percentage point margin of error, other numbers bode well for the former vice president and suggest a stronger advantage over Sanders. The poll of 401 likely Democratic caucusgoers was conducted March 3 through 6.
“If I’m Joe Biden sitting on the fence and I see this poll, this might make me want to jump in,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of the Des Moines-based Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll. “I just can’t find much in this poll that would be a red flag for Joe Biden.”
No blatant red flags for Biden, but there is absolutely some sentiment within the party that he should step aside and let the next generation of leaders take the reins.
Seventy percent of respondents say they believe Biden’s political views are neither too liberal nor too conservative, but instead, are “about right” — the highest percentage of any candidate tested.
And 64 percent — including a majority in every demographic group — say they think Biden’s experience is an asset and he should enter the race. About a third of respondents say his time has passed and he should not run. [Emphasis added]
Biden’s numbers probably look a lot like Hillary’s numbers did in 2016. He’s got experience, which is valued, and he’s got the backing of all the major parts of the Democratic Party establishment. However, similar to Hillary, the question is whether he can capture the grassroots base of the party?
The answer to that question can be found by asking whether voters demand ideological purity, or victory, on Election Day in 2020. If it’s the latter, Biden stands a better chance of carrying the mantle as even the most die-hard progressives will sign-on to his campaign and work tirelessly to push Donald Trump out of the White House.
There are valid arguments against “electability” that Biden’s establishment credentials wouldn’t do him any better than they did Hillary’s. Perhaps someone like Bernie is what’s needed on Election Day to fire up voters and draw sharper contrasts with Donald Trump.
Age Doesn’t Matter?
For the crowds attending Bernie’s rallies and Iowa campaign stops, age doesn’t seem to be a factor, according to Business Insider:
Young supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders say they’re not concerned about his age as the 77-year-old from Vermont makes another run for president.
At Sanders’ rally in Iowa City, Iowa, on Friday night, students from the University of Iowa could be overheard talking about how the senator has “always” had the same values.
One such student, Sam Johnston of Forsyth, Illinois, told INSIDER he supports Sanders because he’s “fair,” “reliable,” and he trusts the senator to “follow through” on his campaign promises.
Johnston, 18, who will be a first-time voter in 2020, said “age range doesn’t matter” when it comes to Sanders because he “just knows our values and shares them.”
Bernie’s demographics skewed young in 2016 as well, which perplexed some analysts, but the answers are revealed in the sentiments of voters who don’t see the “socialist” label as a negative. Take this recent poll, for example, as all the proof you need that Bernie can connect with young voters better than just about anyone half his age:
“Generation Z has a more positive view of the word “socialism” than previous generations, and — along with millennials — are more likely to embrace socialistic policies and principles than past generations, according to a new Harris Poll given exclusively to Axios.”
If that’s the case, Bernie has as good a shot as anyone in 2020 unless President Trump can beat the “socialist” drum hard enough to scare centrist and moderate voters away.