The campaign of Bernie Sanders, once seen as little more than a novelty (perhaps even to Sanders himself), is being viewed far more ominously by Hillary Clinton insiders in the wake of poll numbers that show the senator from Vermont to be a genuinely legitimate challenger to not only Clinton herself, but to whomever is ultimately declared the Republican nominee.
Clinton has publicly questioned Sanders’ electability since the outset of his campaign, but recent polls show that in prospective match-ups with likely Republican challengers in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders performs better than does Mrs. Clinton. In fact, in head-to-head matchups against each other, recent poll numbers show Clinton’s lead over Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire to be anything but overwhelming: The results of an NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist survey released Sunday show Clinton presently maintaining just a three-point lead over likely Iowa voters…48-45…while the same poll revealed that likely New Hampshire primary voters prefer Clinton by almost as small a margin, 50-46. The Iowa caucuses will be held on February 1, and the New Hampshire primary on February 9. Given Clinton’s long-standing position as the Democrat party’s presumptive nominee, even razor-thin victory margins over Sanders, let alone outright losses to him, could spell doom for her chances to emerge as the party’s eventual nominee.
Observers believe that Hillary is falling victim to a variety of negative perceptions among her party’s electorate, ranging from an overall weariness of Clinton and Clintons, in general, to genuine dissatisfaction…and even anger…over issues like the email scandal and her perceived complicity in Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual misconduct. Bernie Sanders is plagued by no such baggage, and, furthermore, seems to be, like Donald Trump, the beneficiary of an embrace by voters this year of outside-the-beltway populists.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large