Hillary Clinton appears to be seizing control of presidential polls, using a strong debate performance and an even stronger ground game to push Bernie Sanders further and further behind.
Clinton entered the race as the clear front-runner, as she did in 2008. But unlike that year, in which Clinton was handed an upset by the rising Barack Obama, it does not appear that this time Bernie Sanders may have the momentum or the unique appeal that made Obama such a phenomenon.
The polls seem to tell the story. After a major push by Bernie Sanders over the latter half of the summer, Clinton has regained control. The Huffington Post’s Pollster, which aggregates data from a number of different national polls, has Clinton well above the 50 percent support threshold.
Clinton has crossed 50 percent in a series of polls and is now pushing 60 percent in polls from YouGov/Economist, Ispos/Reuters, and McClatchy/Marist.
It’s not just national polls. A CNN/ORC poll released last week showed that Clinton opened up an 18-point lead over Sanders in Iowa, a key early voting state where Sanders had been investing considerable resources.
Clinton’s momentum appears to be building as well. Polls from Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate pointed to Clinton as the clear winner, The Hill noted.
“Sixty seven percent of Democratic primary voters said Clinton won the debate, Public Policy Polling (PPP) found in its survey, conducted for the pro-Clinton super-PAC Correct The Record. Twenty percent thought Sen. Bernie Sanders (I- Vt.) won the debate, PPP added, while 7 percent picked former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley as the winner.
“Sixty three percent of viewers also said they had a more positive opinion of Clinton after the debate, according to PPP. Forty one percent said the debate gave them a more positive opinion of Sanders and 37 percent said they now have a more positive opinion of O’Malley.”
But maybe most importantly, the polls show that voters see Hillary Clinton as the best chance for Democrats to win the 2016 election. A New York Times/CBS survey released late last week shows that voters have much greater confidence in Clinton at passing her agenda.
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) November 16, 2015
The New York Times noted that some Democratic voters said that the ability to deliver change was the most important quality they sought in a candidate, and among those voters Bernie Sanders was the most popular. But 60 percent of voters said they wanted the next president to continue the policies of Barack Obama. Among these voters, Hillary Clinton bests Sanders by a two-to-one margin.
“This advantage for Mrs. Clinton may reflect all-around skepticism that Mr. Sanders’s leftist candidacy can prevail: Her party’s primary voters expect Mrs. Clinton to be their eventual nominee by more than a 4-to-1 margin over Mr. Sanders,” the report noted.
Bernie Sanders could have other perception problems. As a self-described democratic socialist, Sanders has never come under much national attention as a Senator from left-leaning Vermont. But his policies are now coming under greater scrutiny, and despite Sanders’ explaining to voters that he is not in favor of nationalized industry but rather in the socialized institutions like fire departments, the “S-word” carries a stigma with many voters.
A recent Marketplace-Edison poll pointed out the dichotomy, finding that while many Americans agree with the views of democratic socialists, they are still put off by the word socialism.
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) November 15, 2015
While Bernie Sanders still has time to gain ground, with the polls solidly turning in Hillary Clinton’s favor it may take more than strong debate performances or standing room only rallies. It’s likely that Sanders would need to capitalize on a major misstep from Clinton, and given her history in the spotlight and her nearly flawless campaigning so far, that seems a distant possibility.
[Picture by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]