Poll: Bernie Sanders Beats Donald Trump And All Democrats On Character, Empathy

After winning the popular vote in Iowa and winning the New Hampshire primary, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont surged in national opinion polling, opening a double-digit lead over former Vice President Joe Biden. Voters also seem to believe that Sanders is more electable than any other Democratic candidate, and that he has the highest chances of beating President Donald Trump in November.

If character and empathy were on the ballot, Sanders would dominate, according to a new USA Today/Ipsos poll. The unusual survey explored voters’ views on candidates’ personality and values, establishing that Sanders has a significant advantage over Trump and all of his Democratic rivals.

Forty percent of voters admire Sanders’ character. Only 26 percent admire Trump’s, according to the poll. When it comes to Democratic candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden comes closest to Sanders, with 31 percent of voters saying they admire his character. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg each got 30 percent in this category, and 29 percent of voters say they admire billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

According to Democratic strategist Andrew Feldman, Sanders’ consistency could be why voters trust him and admire his character.

“Whether you like him or not, voters know where Bernie Sanders stands. He talks about systemic problems in a way that is really simple to understand. He doesn’t move off that messaging.”

“We’re at a time in this country where the establishment in both political parties are on the ropes,” he added, explaining that Sanders appears to have an ability to connect with voters who feel he shares their struggles and understands the issues they face every day.

Voters also believe that Sanders shares their values more than any other candidate. According to the poll, 39 percent of voters said that the Vermont senator shares their values, compared to 30 percent who said the same of Buttigieg and Biden. Thirty-one percent of voters believes Trump shares their values.

On empathy, Sanders polls higher than any Democrat. Among suburban women — an important voting bloc, which helped the Democratic Party win back the House of Representatives in 2018 — 47 percent believe the Vermont senator “cares about people like me” and 38 percent admire his character.

According to Eric Schickler, co-director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at U.C. Berkeley, personal appeal could help Sanders in the primary, which appears to be a very close and volatile race.

“For Bernie, he’s always had this outsider appeal. He’s been around so long with the same basic message and I think that’s probably helping him in the primary,” Schickler said.

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