Hillary Clinton is seeing her poll numbers slip, with a surge from Bernie Sanders now challenging her position as the Democratic frontrunner.
For months, Clinton was the presumed winner of the Democratic race, with many assuming she would walk to the nomination. But the Vermont Senator has been steadily building a base of support and chipping away at Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers, and the results of the recent Democratic debate could add to that.
Sanders was seen by many as the winner of Tuesday’s debate, which for many was his first introduction to a large audience. Sanders has seen a large jump in social media followers, with more than 50,000 new people following him in the hours after the debate, and raised more than $1 million after his debate performance.
Hillary Clinton’s poll slide predates the debate. A Reuters poll from earlier in the week found that Clinton’s support fell 10 percentage points in just a few days, dropping from 51 percent support down to 41 percent support.
There are still many viewers, and political pundits credited Hillary Clinton with a victory in Tuesday’s Democratic debate, including the New York Times, which claimed that her strong performance may have kept Vice President Joe Biden from entering the race.
The report noted that Clinton had “crisp” answers for every question, and was aggressive with her rivals.
The performance seemed to stop the idea that Hillary Clinton was sliding in the polls and losing her position as frontrunner.
“If Biden’s only rationale is that Clinton is tanking, then that’s no longer an option,” said Stephanie Cutter, a longtime Democratic strategist.
But a larger number seem to believe that Bernie Sanders topped Hillary Clinton. Polls taken immediately after the debate seemed to heavily favor Sanders, and a number of political analysts credited him with a win both on style and substance.
Columnist H.A. Goodman wrote in the Huffington Post that the debate may have uncovered some natural strengths for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, including his stances on issues that resonate most with voters.
“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.”
Whatever ground Bernie Sanders may be making up on Hillary Clinton in the polls, he is not the only concern as she makes her bid at the White House. Clinton has also been a popular target for Republicans.
The Republic attacks against Clinton could stretch back for much longer than the presidential race, some GOP members now admit. In an interview this week, New York congressman Richard Hanna said that the Benghazi hearings against Clinton were politically motivated.
“This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton,” Hanna said during the radio interview.
But even with the political attacks and the surge from Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton still holds important poll advantages. Sanders has taken large support from the more left-leaning Democratic voters, but Clinton still holds advantages with minority and older voters. For Sanders to become a true threat, political experts believe he would need to expand his coalition and prove that he can be a strong general election candidate.
[Picture by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]