Bernie Sanders was once seen as the outsider of the 2016 presidential election, with political pundits giving him little to no chance of unseating Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic primary.
Now a string of giant rallies across the country and steadily climbing poll numbers now have some recalling the 2008 election, when another dark horse senator rose from a relatively low poll position to defeat Clinton.
But does Bernie Sanders have what it takes to follow in Barack Obama’s footsteps in a surprise win in the Democratic primary? Many are still split.
Bernie’s surge is undeniable. He has been steadily climbing in polls, and for the first time, has taken the lead in the pivotal state of New Hampshire.
Those polls can be misleading, however. Many believe Sanders was bound to move ahead in New Hampshire — which is his home turf in New England and a reliably liberal state — and that even a primary win there would not necessarily mean he is moving toward the nomination.
The New York Times notes that, despite Sanders’ surge, Hillary Clinton remains solidly in the lead nationwide.
“You might not know it if you’re reading the various articles about Mr. Sanders’s rise in the polls, but Mrs. Clinton still holds as strong a position as any primary candidate in history. And oddly, Mr. Sanders and Mr. Biden have helped clarify that strength.
“The Sanders surge has slowed over the last month. Yes, a poll out of New Hampshire has him tied with Mrs. Clinton. But Iowa and New Hampshire were always going to be his strong spots — just as liberal havens like Seattle and Boulder, Colo., are favorable terrain.
“A closer look at the polls shows that he is simply not within striking distance of winning the nomination. His support has run into a wall: women, blacks, and Hispanics continue to support Mrs. Clinton by a wide margin, as do white moderate and conservative Democrats.”
Others believe that Bernie’s rise is something of a flash in the pan. The Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake noted that deep down, Democratic voters seem to realize that Hillary Clinton has the best chance of being elected. He cited last month’s Washington Post-ABC News poll which showed that for Democratic-leaning voters, picking a candidate they think has the best chance of winning was the top priority for just 3 percent of respondents.
“Voters are actually pretty smart in that they know these guys probably can’t win. A June Monmouth poll showed 59 percent of Democratic voters said Sanders would have a worse chance than Clinton; only 13 percent thought he’d have a better chance. A CBS News poll last month, meanwhile, showed 78 percent of Democratic voters said Clinton was their most electable candidate, while just 5 percent said that of Sanders. That’s even as 17 percent supported Sanders.”
That being said, there are still more than four months until the first vote is actually cast, and Bernie Sanders still has time to make up ground on Hillary Clinton. But if he can continue to hold his momentum — and more importantly, if more voters begin to see him as a candidate who can actually win the election — then Hillary Clinton could be in for another 2008.
[Picture by Getty Images]