Bernie Sanders needs Iowa, a small but important early voting state that could sway support to Sanders, and over the past few weeks the campaign has been building a team that just might be able to pull off the upset.
As Sanders slips further behind Hillary Clinton in national polls and falls further and further away from the momentum that pushed him to within a stone’s throw of the Democratic front runner this summer, he is in desperate need of a strong early showing to keep supporters through the long primary season.
With Sanders relatively strong in New Hampshire, which is something close to home field for the Vermont Senator, he needs a victory in Iowa much the same way Barack Obama did in 2008.
And, as the New York Times noted, Bernie Sanders has been amassing a ground game that could fuel the upset.
“The campaign has quietly assembled an extensive ground game here, with 100 paid staff members and with trained volunteer leaders for each of the state’s 1,681 caucus precincts.”
“The field team is meant to be the engine for a Sanders upset in the caucuses on Feb. 1 — the vehicle to turn out the tens of thousands of grass-roots supporters who show up for Mr. Sanders’s rallies, even if they no longer earn him headlines.”
Confidence appears to be growing in Bernie’s camp, and in a three-day campaigning visit Bernie himself told a crowd, “I don’t want to get Secretary Clinton nervous, but I think we’re going to win here in Iowa.”
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The New York Times report noted that Bernie Sanders will need to engineer a big turnout among younger voters, the ones most receptive to his message about how Wall Street and the influence of money in politics is leaving them behind.
It’s not clear if Bernie Sanders will have enough of a ground game to turn Iowa into his favor. Hillary Clinton has been established in the state for longer and has her own army of volunteers, along with 24 field offices. Political experts say she is well aware of how Barack Obama’s campaign outworked her’s in 2008, leading to the victory that set Obama on course to win the nomination.
But Sanders could have other plans to propel his chances in Iowa. This weekend he announced that he would reveal more parts of his tax plan before Iowa caucuses in February, including a full plan on how he would pay for universal health care, a free college plan, and infrastructure improvements.
“We have been very specific. We have more to do, and we will be doing that in the very near future,” Sanders said (via CNN).
Sanders shared a bit more of the plan, saying he would impose a new tax on Wall Street speculation and use the revenue for free public college. He would also lift the cap for Social Security taxes on incomes over $250,000, using that revenue to expand Social Security.
But if Bernie Sanders wants his plans to come together in Iowa, he still appears to have a lot of work to do. He trails Hillary Clinton in most polls for the state, often by double digits.
But political experts note that this isn’t always indicative of what will happen in Iowa, a state where John Edwards once polled at 7 percent support in 2004 before winning 32 percent of the vote and in 2012 Rick Santorum had 5 percent support and ended up winning with 25 percent. It’s a state where getting out the vote is critical, which could mean big things for Bernie Sanders if he can build up his ground game enough.
[Image via Instagram/Bernie Sanders]