Bernie Sanders is slipping in the polls and struggling to remain competitive against the ever-powerful Hillary Clinton, but supporters of the Vermont senator can take solace in at least one thing — he’s still more popular than Donald Trump, even with just a sliver of Trump’s media coverage.
The unapologetically loud Republican front runner has been stealing all the headlines in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, earning both support and scorn for his harsh words against Muslims and his vow to ban all non-U.S. Muslims from entering the country.
But even as his supporters rally around him and the cable news networks can’t seem to turn away, Trump is still trailing Bernie Sanders once the polls are translated to real supporters.
Raw Story explained that Trump has reached 30.4 percent support among GOP primary voters, good enough to lead the fractured field. Bernie Sanders is polling at 30.8 percent, which puts him far behind Hillary Clinton in what is now essentially a two-person race.
But as Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News noted, the edge in enrollment for Democrats means that Bernie Sanders has quite an edge in real voters supporting him.
In fact, Donald Trump’s support may actually be quite small nationally. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight estimated that Trump is backed by about 6 to 8 percent of total voters.
As Bunch pointed out, Trump has been dominating the airwaves, citing research from the Tyndall Report that found that cable and network news networks are close to obsessed with Trump.
— Hrafnkell Haraldsson (@AHeathensDay) December 11, 2015
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) December 11, 2015
“The group found that — even with more than 20 candidates in the field for most of the year — Trump has gotten more than a quarter of all the network news coverage of the presidential race. In fact, Trump has received more coverage than the entire Democratic field — even though Hillary Clinton (who, again, has the most overall support, by far) has the second-most face time. Trump’s total airtime was 234 minutes in 2015. And Bernie Sanders — who, remember, is supported by more voters than Trump — has had just 10 minutes of network airtime. That’s less than 1/23 of what Trump received.”
This builds into Sanders’ reputation as a dark horse in the race, something that many of his supporters are actually embracing. Many have compared Bernie’s position to Barack Obama at this point in 2007, when the eventual winner of the Democratic primary was trailing Clinton.
While Hillary Clinton is consistently topping 50 percent in the polls — and her support is gradually growing — Bernie Sanders does have several advantages. He maintains a significant lead in New Hampshire, an important early voting state where he holds something close to a home-field advantage.
Sanders also has high support among the younger generation. A new Harvard University Institute of Politics survey found that millennials — those who are 18 to 29 — back Sanders over Clinton by six percentage points, 41 percent to 35 percent.
The poll also found that 66 percent of millennial Democrats don’t care about Sanders’ self-identification as a “Democratic Socialist,” something that Bernie has been working hard to overcome. He held a major speech defining the concept and explaining to voters that it has nothing to do with the old ideas of socialism associated with the Soviet Union. While this is still more of a problem with older voters, this at least shows that he won’t have to invest more time or energy convincing the younger ones.
While the polls showing support over Donald Trump may be encouraging, supporters of Bernie Sanders will still have a huge mountain to climb in order to knock off Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. While Sanders has strong grassroots support, he will have to beat Clinton’s robust ground game and the vast network of donors built up over the last two decades.
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