As the gap between Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders continues to close — going from Clinton’s once-astounding double-digit lead over Sanders to a slim seven-point margin in the latest polls — a Bernie Sanders presidency is no longer the daydream it was once considered.
To compare the 2016 primary race to 2008 is unavoidable. In 2008, Clinton’s lead over then-senator Barack Obama was around 15 points, compared to today’s seven-point lead against Sanders. Also, Clinton was winning in New Hampshire, whereas Sanders has maintained a sizable lead over her in that key state. Both facts make Clinton’s so-called “inevitability” look more like a Sanders’ advantage.
In fact, when paired with other crucial figures and history, some believe that a Bernie Sanders presidency is, in fact, inevitable.
Looking back again to what was considered the great political upset of 2008, when then-senator Barack Obama overtook Clinton, first in the polls and then in the primaries, becoming the Democratic nomination for president, there are other similarities between then and now that should not be overlooked.
For example, it took until February of 2008 for polling to reflect the fact that Obama was the more electable of the two candidates. USA Today wrote a piece that could easily pass as a news item for today’s primary race, with the changing of “Obama” to “Sanders.”
“The air of inevitability that once surrounded Clinton has shifted to the Illinois senator, now seen by seven in 10 Americans as the likely Democratic nominee…”
“Obama has transitioned from a movement leader to a presidential leader,” says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, saying he has ‘crossed the threshold’ to being judged able to handle the job.”
In the 2016 primary, there has been again an “air of inevitability” surrounding Clinton, prompting many to joke about Clinton’s “coronation” rather than an election. And, like Obama in 2008, Sanders has been a true “movement leader” in the Democratic party. This is exemplified by ringing endorsements from such progressive establishments as the Nation and MoveOn.org, and now, some would argue, Sanders has made the transition from a movement leader to a presidential leader.
There are several reasons why Bernie Sanders could easily be seen as the more electable candidate than Hillary Clinton, making a Bernie Sanders presidency, some believe, inevitable.
Sanders has already surpassed Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire polls. This in itself was seen as impossible just a few months ago. A survey from Quinnipiac University found that 49 percent of likely Democratic caucus goers in Iowa plan to back Sanders, while 44 percent support Mrs. Clinton. Only a month ago, Clinton was leading Sanders by 11 percentage points in that state.
Furthermore, creating even more echoes from 2008, Sanders has raised more individual contributions to his campaign than anyone in history. Although Clinton’s campaign has raised more dollars, Sanders’ grassroots approach is working. In December, Sanders surpassed Obama’s record for campaign contributors when he hit the 2.3 million donor mark.
Also, Sanders performs better than Clinton against Trump in a general election match-up. Although latest polls show that both Clinton and Sanders would handily beat Trump, Sanders’ lead over trump is nearly twice that of Clinton’s, according to the Hill.
“Stop the presses! According to a new poll by Quinnipiac University on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) destroys Republican candidate Donald Trump in a general election by 13 percentage points. In this new poll, Sanders has 51 percent to Trump’s 38 percent. If this margin held in a general election, Democrats would almost certainly regain control of the United States Senate and very possibly the House of Representatives.”
And, perhaps most telling, Bernie Sanders is the only leading presidential candidate from either side of the aisle with a positive favorability rating. Both Clinton and Republican front-rummer Donald Trump garner negative favorability ratings.
All of these factors combine to make Bernie Sanders not just a contender, but the actual likely Democratic presidential nominee.
As the Nation’s ringing endorsement of Bernie Sanders said, “For over three decades, Bernie Sanders has defied the political odds, while consistently championing ideas and issues long off our country’s increasingly downsized political map.”
Or, more simply, as Bernie Sanders himself has said, “Don’t underestimate me.”
What do you think? Has Bernie Sanders overtaken Hillary Clinton as the likely Democratic presidential nominee?
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