Bernie Sanders has a 2016 presidential election victory well within his reach — but a Sanders presidency would depend on one large voting bloc turning out at the polls, according to a new analysis of polling data released earlier this month by the respected Quinnipac University National Polling Center. In fact, that single voting bloc already has a much more favorable view of Sanders than of his Democratic rival, former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Thanks in large part to those voters — namely, independents who identify themselves as neither Democrats, Republicans or members of any party — Sanders also holds sizable national leads in the Quinnipac poll over three of the four of the top Republican candidates.
Of the four GOP 2016 hopefuls currently registering at least 10 percent in the polls, only Florida Senator Marco Rubio holds a candle to Sanders in the "Q-poll," but still trails the fiery Vermont senator by a percentage point, 43 percent support to 44.
According to the December 2 Quinnipac poll, Sanders wipes the floor with Donald Trump, 49 percent to 41, as well as Ben Carson, 47-41. But Bernie Sanders fares best against Texas ultra-conservative Senator Ted Cruz. The self-described "democratic socialist" from Vermont currently leads Cruz by 10 percentage points in the nationwide poll, 49-39.
In the video below, Sanders speaks on the Senate floor, denouncing a call by Donald Trump to "close" large segments of the internet.
Despite such data and apparent forceful arguments, however, Sanders is still dogged by perceptions that he is not "electable," as opposed to Clinton who Democratic voters believe carries the national clout to defeat any Republican in the 2016 presidential election — as public interest lawyer Rob Hager pointed out this week in a lengthy article published by the Huffington Post as well as by the Alternet news wire.
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In the Quinnipac poll, Clinton leads Sanders on the question of which candidate has the better chance to win in November — by a whopping 38 percentage point margin.
The Q-poll numbers pitting Sanders against Trump, Cruz, Sanders, and Rubio, Hager notes, would appear to contradict the belief in Sanders' lack of "electability."
But could Sanders even get that far? He currently trails Clinton in every Democratic primary state except the first one, New Hampshire, and his home state of Vermont — which is geographically next door to New Hampshire.
Nationally, Clinton continues to leave Sanders in the dust, leading by an astonishing 33 points, 59 percent to 26 percent, according to a Monmouth University poll released this week.
But according to the polling data analyzed by Hager, Independents like Bernie Sanders more than they like Hillary Clinton — a lot more.
"More Independents think Sanders shares their values compared to Clinton by 47-33%; more Independents think Sanders authentically 'cares about the needs and problems of people like' them, compared to Clinton, by 59-40%; and vastly (38%) more Independents, 64% to 26% — and even a further corroborating margin of Republicans, 39% to 7% — think Sanders 'is honest and trustworthy,' compared to Clinton," Hager wrote.
Sanders himself has been an independent for most of his political career, though he is of course running for president as a Democrat.
But Independents now comprise about 43 percent of the electorate, compared to just 30 percent for self-identifying Democrats. According to Hager's calculations, that Independent "party," if its "members" who back Sanders choose to vote in Democratic primaries, will lead Bernie Sanders to the Democratic nomination over Clinton.
"With 30 percent of the electorate expected to vote 2:1 for Clinton, Democrats provide Sanders half the votes he needs to win the primary. But since he leads Clinton by 36% among Independents, who are 43% of the electorate, he can gain another 14% if his Independent supporters will only deign to contaminate themselves by participating in the primary of the Democrats they otherwise disdain," Hager opines. "This would deliver Sanders a 24-20% victory over Clinton in the primary."Will Independent voters turn out in Democratic primaries to cast their presidential ballots for Bernie Sanders? That question won't be answered until the election gets underway in 2016. But if they do, according to Hager, Sanders quickly becomes the more "electable" candidate.
[Featured Photo By Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press]