(JNi.media) “Sure, a lot of people like Bernie Sanders, but can he win?” has been the rhetorical question since the Independent Senator from Vermont declared that he was going to run for President.
The 73 year old Brooklynite who became mayor of Vermont, the son of hardworking Polish Jewish immigrants who doesn’t hide under the table when someone uses the term “Social Democrat,” seems to be gaining on just about everybody, and the answer to the question of “can he win” might not be the affirmative yet, but seems to be on the brighter side of maybe.
When he drew crowds of 10,000 and was within ten points of closing the gap in the polls with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, there was no longer an obligatory assumption that Sanders was running to secure a cabinet position or to lure the former Secretary of State away from Wall Street interests and further to the left. From the beginning, Sanders declared that he was running to win, and he meant it.
But the Sanders campaign, which seems less quixotic with every passing poll, is likely to hit a snag on Super Tuesday, when the greatest number of states hold primary elections, and which seals the fate of many candidates.
Prior to Super Tuesday, which this time falls on March 1 2016, underfunded and alternative candidates can perform pretty well and pick up steam. Those who back candidates on Super Tuesday usually vote for those with significant funding and who are most likely to win.
Vermont, which is the most liberal and whitest state in the US, will support Sanders, along with other traditionally New England states, such as New Hampshire. But even though Sanders was involved in Civil Rights protests, the perception in the media is that he mishandled questions from “Black Lives Matter” activists recently, and Hillary Clinton has historically had the most support of black and Latino voters.
The current Super Tuesday states, which include Texas (with more delegates than most three Super Tuesday states combined), tend to have Democratic voters, such as African Americans and Latinos, who have supported Hillary Clinton.
The other Super Tuesday states are Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado caucuses, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota caucuses, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. If Sanders stumbles on Super Tuesday, it might be difficult for him to recoup his losses.
However, ecstatic Bernie supporters point out that Super Tuesday is a long way off and point to polls that show Sanders performing better than Hillary Clinton against Bush, Trump, Rubio and Walker in swing states. In a CNN poll, Sanders was at 48% with Bush at 47%. Sanders against Walker was 48% to 42% and Sanders against Trump, 59% to 38%. It should be noted that Trump is currently ahead of Bush on the Republican side, according to a New Hampshire poll, which puts Trump at 21% compared with Bush at 15%.
A Quinippiac University poll of Democratic voters in Iowa, Colorado and Virginia found that, on the whole, they favored Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton and found him more trustworthy. The 1,2000 participants identified honesty as a main quality to look for in a candidate, with 38% of Iowa voters saying it was the most important factor.
Colorado voters say 62% to 34% that Clinton is not honest, in Iowa, 59% to 33%, and Virginia, 55% to 39%. Even on “strong leader,” which was the second most important metric, Clinton was found to have dropped four to ten points in these states. In a nationwide CNN poll, 57% did not feel Hillary Clinton was honest and 42% feel that she is.
Dishonesty is not something Bernie Sanders is accused of. In fact, some find his honesty about his unapologetic liberal vision of a raised minimum wage, higher taxes on the wealthy and increased regulation of Wall Street to be an Achilles’ heel that might put him out of the race.
Super Tuesday is likely to be an indicator, and until then, as long as Sanders surges in the polls, liberal voters feel they can dare to dream.