Bernie Sanders continues his rise in the polls, and with just over a week left until voting starts, the parallels to Barack Obama in 2008 are starting to grow more clear.
After Hillary Clinton withstood a surge by Sanders in the summer, she had been building her lead steadily for the last few months. But as the calendar turned to 2016, Sanders has stormed back into the race, cutting into her nationwide lead dramatically and overtaking her in Iowa. A CNN/ORC poll released Thursday showed that Sanders had an eight-point lead over Clinton, leading 51 percent to 43 percent.
As CNN noted, Bernie Sanders held several key strengths in the poll.
“Sanders’ lead is in part built on his economic policies. Democratic caucus-goers said they trust the Vermont senator over Clinton on the economy by 22 points, and 67% said they thought he would do more to help the middle class, as opposed to 30% who felt that way about Clinton.”
It’s getting tighter nationally, as well. Pollster, which aggregates all national polls, shows that her lead has dropped from 25 points in November to 16 points in the the third week in January.
People are seeing that our campaign has the energy, the excitement and is bringing working-class people into it. pic.twitter.com/VnOvaF0TGI
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 24, 2016
— Mashable (@mashable) January 23, 2016
But it’s Bernie’s surge in Iowa that is getting most of the attention. Though one of the smaller states in the nation, Iowa is hugely important to the primary. As the first caucus, Iowa can set the tone for the rest of the states, and a win from Sanders could show him as a viable candidate to voters in the later — and larger — states.
That was the course for Barack Obama, who pulled off an unlikely upset of Clinton in Iowa in 2008, one that propelled him to win the nomination. Many see similarities with the campaign Bernie Sanders is now running eight years later.
“Obama beat Clinton in the 2008 Iowa caucuses by exciting young people and motivating a flood of first-time caucus-goers, helping to push turnout to nearly twice the levels seen in the 2004 caucuses,” NBC News reported. “Sanders is hoping to deal Clinton another defeat Iowa by using the same playbook.”
Even Sanders himself is drawing comparisons to Obama in 2008.
“We get attacked about five times a day,” Sander said. “But it reminds me very much of what happened here in Iowa eight years ago. Remember that? Eight years ago, Obama was being attacked for everything. He was unrealistic, his ideas were pie-in-the sky, and he did not have the experience that was needed.
“You know what?” Sanders continued. “People of Iowa saw through those attacks then, and they’re going to see through those attacks again.”
The comparisons seem to be getting to the Clinton campaign. This week, some within the campaign reached out to NBC News to make some points about the comparisons, noting that Sanders isn’t exactly the same as the Obama phenomenon.
“Clinton campaign officials tell NBC News that two key factors propelled Obama to victory over Sanders in 2008: 1) Obama’s ability to galvanize the African-American vote after winning the Iowa caucuses; and 2) Obama’s domination of the caucus contests.
“But the Clinton campaign — while acknowledging the possibility they could lose Iowa — argues that Sanders will be unable to capitalize on either factor that benefited Obama.”
If Bernie Sanders wants to continue following the path that Barack Obama blazed in 2008, then the polls will need to move a bit more in his favor. Sanders still trails by double-digits in national polls, and has quite a bit of room to make up in the states that follow Iowa and New Hampshire. But experts say wins in both of those states would go a long way to tilt polls in his favor, much like Obama in 2008.
[Image via Instagram/Bernie Sanders]