Bernard “Bernie” Sanders (D-Vermont), a self-proclaimed democratic socialist* (like Martin Luther King and Albert Einstein), democratic presidential candidate, and formerly independent senator from Vermont, is surging in the polls as more and more people are exposed to him.
According to the Huffington Pollster, which combines favorability polls and pits candidates up against each other, this former mayor of Burlington has a net +3% favorability rating, with 36% in support and 33% in unfavorability. Compared to Clinton, with an unfavorable 53.3% to a favorable 42.3%, Sanders has a higher overall rating, although he is unknown to a greater number of poll participants. Former governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) is trailing behind, with an unfavorable 35% to a favorable 21.5%. An average of 43.6% of voters have not yet formed an opinion of this shadow candidate.
In the early caucus states, especially the northern ones, Sanders is closing in on and, in a few polls leading, Clinton. In response to this, Clinton’s team has been stepping up their attacks on the Vermont senator.
“Senator Sanders has so far taken a hands-off approach to some of the riskiest institutions and activities in our economy,” said Clinton’s campaign chief financial officer, “which were among the biggest culprits during the 2008 crisis.”
The former mayor of Burlington and his supporters, such as Cenk Uygur of the liberal/progressive commentary channel The Young Turks, have dismissed her claims as nonsense, saying that Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street make her claims irrelevant, perhaps even hypocritical.
“This is the strategy that everyone does that are already in power. First they ignore you- she wouldn’t even mention his name…. then they attack you- and you know the rest of the quote. The first line of attack is preposterous,” Uygur said, referring to the attacks from Clinton’s CFO.
It’s notable to say that despite the favorable ratings, Donald Trump (R), who has vilified and alienated muslims and Mexicans, is actually quite unpopular, even with some of the GOP party leaders**. A 54.4% majority of voters are against him, compared to only 39.5% who stand with the Trump. It seems as if the “silent majority” is not on his side at all.
Additionally, all of the Democratic candidates are beating him in hypothetical matchups. In the scenario of Hillary vs Trump, Hillary wins 48.1% to Trump’s 43.9%. In Sanders vs Trump, the former wins 50.1% to 40.5%, with a slightly bigger margin than with Clinton.
Bernie Sanders is- surprisingly to some, inevitably to others- performing better than Hillary in both favorability and against the Republican frontrunner. Is America feeling the Bern? As always, the voters will decide, both in the Iowa caucuses at 9 PM E.T. on February 1 and in the general election on November 30th, 2016.
**CORRECTION: An earlier edition of this article states that Trump is quite unpopular “with even his fellow Republicans.” Trump is, in fact, not as unpopular as the phrase suggested, and the article has been revised to clarify that.
*CLARIFICATION: It has been argued that Mr. Sanders’ policies make him not a “socialist,” but a “social democrat” (the typical liberal Democrat of the New Deal Era). Nevertheless, because he self-identifies with the former term, no changes will be made, although it will be clarified here. For more information: <http://goo.gl/noJJmp>, <http://goo.gl/CGWgGT>.