Bernie Sanders is making a major jump in the polls, and the first Democratic presidential debate could help him gain the momentum needed to give a serious threat to Hillary Clinton.
The independent Senator from Vermont has been steadily building support over the last several months, chipping away at Clinton's once large lead and amassing an ever-growing group of very passionate supporters. That may be taking a major jump thanks to Tuesday's debate, which many political pundits and viewers at home believe Sanders won.
As H.A. Goodman pointed out in a column published in the Huffington Post, the debate victory could shed light on some inherent strengths Bernie Sanders holds over Hillary Clinton.
"Overall, only one candidate conveyed a message that didn't need to be 'polished,' which apparently is the new word for certain pundits who feel Clinton won. Only one candidate set the tone for the evening. Only one candidate is the reason Hillary Clinton was overwhelmed with joy when her main rival refused to talk about the FBI, CIA, and others investigating emails."
"Also, nobody came close to Bernie Sanders on the issues of wealth inequality, climate change, perpetual-wars, and the impact of these challenges upon our nation. Political wonks who believe Clinton stole the show most likely never predicted Sanders to pose such a serious challenge at this point, therefore being 'polished' or prepared is viewed as advantages for Clinton. In reality, it was obvious that nobody was going to back down, and the winner of the debate had to do more than simply keep their cool or answer tough questions."
The climb in the polls for Bernie Sanders is not just coming from the Democratic debate. A Reuters poll found that Clinton has been slipping in the days leading up to the debate, with her support falling 10 percentage points in just a few days. From October 4 to October 9, Clinton went from 51 percent of Democratic support to 41 percent.
Part of that loss comes from uncertainty over whether Vice President Joe Biden might run. Biden has not announced his intentions, but still has a 20 percent support in the Reuters poll.
Sanders is pulling momentum from other corners, as well. His rallies have consistently drawn tens of thousands of supporters, numbers not seen since Barack Obama's run in 2008. One recent rally in Los Angeles drew a crowd of more than 27,000, which was about five times the crowd Clinton drew for her own rally.
And Sanders also has the endorsement of many high-profile celebrities --- a list that includes Will Ferrell, Neil Young, Danny DeVito, and Ben Foster --- that has helped him make even greater inroads with younger voters.
It is not clear if the poll gains will hold up for Bernie Sanders. For many, the CNN debate was the first introduction to the candidate, which itself could lead to a small bump.
Whether the polls hold up for Bernie Sanders or not, political followers credit him with injecting competition in a race once believed to be a mere formality for Hillary Clinton's nomination. A recent Chicago Tribune editorial made that point, claiming that, "Sanders is the reason Democrats have a serious primary race."
[Picture by Darren McCollester / Getty Images]