Bernie Sanders, independent Senator from Vermont, is the most popular active politician in the United States, according to a new survey. The new Harvard-Harris survey showed that 57 percent of registered voters viewed Sanders favorably, while only 32 percent viewed him negatively.
A majority of registered voters who had a negative view of Sanders were Republicans, with nearly two-thirds expressing a negative view of the politician. However, outside the circle of Republican voters, Sanders was found to be immensely popular. A broad swathe of registered voters, mostly independent and Democratic voters, expressed a favorable view of him.
He was the only politician viewed favorably by a majority of registered voters among 16 congressional leaders and Trump administration officials included in the survey.
Eighty percent of registered Democrats viewed him favorably, according to the survey.
Sanders scored 57 percent favorable and 32 percent unfavorable, compared with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who scored 38 percent favorable and 32 percent unfavorable.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton scored 42 percent favorable and 53 percent unfavorable.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi from California scored 31 percent favorable and 48 percent unfavorable.
According to the survey results, Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, and former Breitbart executive, was the least popular political figure among those polled. Only 16 percent of those polled viewed him favorably, compared with 45 percent who had a negative view of him, according to the Harvard-Harris survey.
Bannon fared poorly compared with other Republicans, such as Vice President Mike Pence, who scored 44 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable. House Speaker Paul Ryan from Wisconsin scored 34 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky scored 23 percent favorable and 42 percent unfavorable, while Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway scored 24 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable.
Trump’s son-in-law, Ivanka Trump’s husband, scored 23 percent favorable and 34 percent unfavorable.
Among registered women voters, 58 percent viewed Sanders favorably, compared with 55 percent of registered male voters polled. Sanders’ popularity peaked among relatively young voters. Sixty-two percent of voters aged 18 to 34 viewed him favorably. A majority of voters over the age of 50 also viewed him favorably.
Perhaps the most surprising of the survey results was that 73 percent of black registered voters polled viewed Sanders favorably. This is higher than 68 percent of Hispanic voters, 62 percent of registered Asian-American voters and 52 percent of registered white voters who reported having a favorable view of Sanders.
The result is surprising because Sanders failed to win black support during the Democratic primary contest against Clinton. His loss in states with large population of black voters has been attributed to a weak support base among African-American voters.
The apparent contradiction between results of the Harvard-Harris survey and Sanders’ performance among African-American voters in the Democratic primary could possibly be explained away as being due to the fact that while many African-American voters viewed him favorably, they simply preferred to vote for Clinton due to greater familiarity with the candidate.
But this could change in future elections if Sanders sustains an effective outreach to African-American voters and is able to gain name-recognition among them.
The registered voters sampled in the survey conducted from April 14 to April 17 included 36 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican, 30 percent independent, and three percent others.
According to analysts, the results of the survey highlight Sanders’ potential value to the Democratic Party as it strategizes to recover following its disastrous loss to the Republican Party in the last election cycle.
“In losing to Hillary, Bernie Sanders has floated above today’s partisan politics while Bannon has, rightly or wrongly, taken the blame for the administration’s failures,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of Harvard-Harris. “It is symptomatic of the Democrats increasingly consolidating to the left while the Republicans are fractured and unable to come together.”
“Sanders is an asset to the Democrats while Bannon is a liability to the administration.”
Many analysts believe that the survey results suggest a viable presidential candidate for the Democrats in 2020, although Sanders has preferred to remain an independent Senator. Sanders, who will be 79 in 2020, has not ruled out running for the Democratic Party presidential nomination a second time.
Sanders is currently on a country-wide tour with the new Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez, as part of efforts to unify the party following the deepening of the rift between the party’s establishment and the progressive wing of the party during the race for the chair of the DNC.
Sanders and the party’s progressive wing had supported Keith Allison, congressman from Minnesota, while the party’s establishment, led by Barack Obama and the Clinton faction had backed Tom Perez, former secretary of labor in the Obama administration.
The fight between the party’s establishment and the progressive wing for the chair of the DNC was merely a continuation of the power struggle sparked during the party’s primaries when Sanders challenged Clinton for nomination as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.
Many Sanders supporters remain bitter over the allegation that the Democratic Party rigged the election against Sanders in favor of Clinton, while the party’s establishment and their supporters view Sanders as an outsider threatening to take over the party.
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