Bernie Sanders is still trailing in polls against frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but a strong showing in general election polls could boost the Vermont senator as the first primaries of 2016 approach.
Sanders has been playing from behind the entire election season, chipping away at Clinton’s lead over the summer before falling further behind as fall rolled around. While he does have the advantage of some very enthusiastic supporters and a huge online presence, Sanders appears to need something greater of a boost if he hopes to topple Clinton.
He may have just gotten it. Polls looking forward to the general election show that Bernie Sanders is actually the strongest Democratic candidate in the general election, defeating Donald Trump by 13 in a hypothetical matchup. This goes against the widely-held belief that Clinton is the best pick for Democrats, columnist H.A. Goodman wrote for the Huffington Post.
As Goodman explained further, a deeper examination shows that Bernie Sanders may be the only Democrat who can defeat Trump.
“As for why Bernie Sanders defeats Trump by a wider margin, there are numerous reasons, however all of these explanations narrow down to one central theme in 2016. Because of Clinton’s negative favorability ratings and ties to Trump, I explain why only Sanders can defeat him in this YouTube video.
“If voters want a conservative on war, foreign policy, and Wall Street, they’ll vote for a Republican, not a “moderate” Democrat with neoconservative advisers. This isn’t the 90’s and progressive values aren’t a liability to the Democratic Party. Ending mass incarceration and wealth inequality are mainstream issues, and gay marriage is a right, despite the convenient evolution (Clinton opposed gay marriage up until 2013) of certain Democrats.”
Though that initial poll showing Bernie Sanders on top came from late December, more recent polls have backed up the point. On Friday, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found that Trump had closed the margin even more with Hillary Clinton. In a hypothetical matchup, the two were virtually tied, with Trump taking 39 percent support and Clinton with 40 percent.
Bernie Sanders seems to sense the opportunity. At a campaign appearance in Iowa, Sanders told supporters he would “love, love, love” to run against Donald Trump in the fall. It was a response to a bold move from Donald Trump, who held a rally on Bernie’s home turf in Burlington, Vermont, and said that while he was expecting to run against Hillary, a race against Sanders would be “a dream come true.”
“It would be a dream come true for me as well,” Sanders said (via the Washington Post). “I would love, love, love to run against Donald Trump.”
While he still trails against Hillary Clinton in the polls, Bernie Sanders has shown a bit more aggression when going after Donald Trump. At the Iowa appearance, he called Trump a “pathological liar” and took on Trump for claiming that climate change was made up by the Chinese as a way to hurt the United States in manufacturing, the Washington Post noted.
“Where he comes up with these ideas, I have no idea,” Sanders said.
Sanders has also been touting his strengths against Trump.
I am confident I would win. pic.twitter.com/MFBgoCds8u
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 8, 2016
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 9, 2016
Bernie Sanders has also been realistic about his poll numbers, telling supporters that if Iowa caucuses were held today, that he would likely lose by a small margin. He is working on changing that as well, and has been building up his ground game in the pivotal early voting state. Sanders knows that in order to make it to a matchup against Donald Trump, he will likely need strong showings in both Iowa and New Hampshire to put some wind behind his sails for the rest of the primary season.
[Photo by AP Photo/Charles Krupa]