The political revolution Bernie Sanders says is necessary to propel him to the White House is beginning to emerge, defying all the pundits and pollsters who have spent the last eight months declaring Hillary Clinton the presumptive nominee. Here are a few reasons why having a President Bernie Sanders is still a very real possibility:
Bernie is nearly out-fundraising the most powerful fundraiser
Already in the past month, Sanders has proven himself as the new emerging Democratic front-runner when looking at the amount of money raised from the greatest number of individual donors. After the New Year, the Sanders campaign announced a 4th-quarter fundraising total of $33 million, just shy of Clinton’s $37 million haul. Sanders also demolished the all-time record of 2.5 million individual campaign donors before the end of 2015, meaning more people have donated to his primary campaign already than to President Obama’s 2012 re-election effort.
This is no small feat, as the tag team of Hillary and Bill Clinton have proven to become the best political fundraisers in American history, raising $3 billion between their combined political campaigns and joint fundraising for their family foundation, according to the Washington Post:
The Post identified donations from roughly 336,000 individuals, corporations, unions and foreign governments in support of their political or philanthropic endeavors — a list that includes top patrons such as Steven Spielberg and George Soros, as well as lesser-known backers who have given smaller amounts dozens of times. Not included in the count are an untold number of small donors whose names are not identified in campaign finance reports but together have given millions to the Clintons over the years.
Indeed, wealthy donors are more conditioned to support Clinton than Sanders. The average donation from Sanders supporters in the 4th quarter of 2015 was just $27. By contrast, Clinton relies heavily on donors giving the maximum amount of $2,700:
Bernie has all but eliminated Hillary’s polling advantage
Throughout 2015, Hillary Clinton maintained a commanding lead in polls, maintaining at least a double-digit lead over Sanders that widened to as much as a 33-point advantage after Joe Biden ended speculation about a possible presidential run. But now, Sanders is ahead by a whopping 14 points in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, besting the former First Lady among every voter demographic. And for the first time ever, Sanders is now polling at 49 percent to Clinton’s 44 percent among Iowa voters in the latest Quinnipiac poll, putting him outside the margin of error.
And these polling trends aren’t confined to just a few small states, either — Sanders is making big strides in national polls. At this point in early 2008, Hillary Clinton had an even bigger advantage over Barack Obama. A CBS/New York Times national poll between January 9 and January 12, 2008 had Clinton ahead of Obama by 15 points. Compare that to now, when a CBS/New York Times poll conducted between January 7 and January 10, 2016, has Clinton ahead of Sanders by just 7 points. To put things in perspective, Sanders is doing twice as well in national polls as Obama was at the same point in 2008.
As of January 12, the average polling spread is just a slim 8.6 percent in Clinton’s favor. The below chart further illustrates how Clinton’s lead has slipped in recent months:
Bernie has more support among women than Hillary
While Hillary Clinton casts herself as a champion of women and plays up the fact that she intends to smash the final glass ceiling of being the first woman president, Bernie Sanders has her beat in two crucial female demographics. While the FEC won’t release 4th quarter data until the end of January, 3rd quarter fundraising data revealed that Bernie Sanders has over 71,000 more individual donations from women (301,154) than Hillary Clinton (240,000).
Among young women, Sanders has a 20-point advantage over his opponent for voting-age women under age 35. In a recent Rolling Stone article debunking the myth of the “Berniebro” — a popular noun among left-wing media outlets used to dismiss the majority of Sanders’ base as sexist twentysomething young men who have issues with women in power — author Tom Dickinson describes Bernie Sanders’ passionate young female supporters on college campuses:
At a rally at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, last October, by far the most enthusiastic Sanders supporters I met were young women. A 19-year-old African-American freshman named Aiyha Abdelbagi — who wore a light-blue hijab and pink Bernie ’16 button to the rally — gave a typical answer when asked why she was supporting Sanders: “He’s for the people, especially college students and African-Americans,” she told me. “His answer on the Black Lives Matter question at the [first] Democratic debate put me on board, confirmed everything for me.”
When I pressed Abdelbagi on why she hadn’t cottoned to Clinton, she shot me a smile. “Just because I’m a girl?” she said. “Just because she [Clinton] is a girl doesn’t mean I’m going to support her. Nope, not at all. That’s not what feminism is about.”
Bernie Sanders is more electable than Hillary Clinton
It’s become more clear in recent months that Donald Trump is a serious contender for the Republican nomination, not the flash-in-the-pan candidate pundits made him out to be last summer. This means if Democrats want to keep the White House in 2016, they’ll need to have the candidate best-equipped to take on Trump.
Trump maintains a commanding lead in New Hampshire, nearly 20 percent ahead of his closest rival. He’s up by 13 points in Nevada, crushing the competition by a 20 percent lead in South Carolina, and is likely to sweep the Super Tuesday primaries, which are largely in the Deep South. In Alabama, for example, Trump has the overwhelming support of 40 percent of likely Republican voters.
In a hypothetical general election matchup, Trump would come awfully close to beating Hillary Clinton, with the former New York U.S. Senator winning 47 percent of the vote compared to Trump’s 40 percent, according to Quinnipiac. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, trounces Trump by a 51 to 38 margin.
But Sanders’ real strength lies in reaching voters who don’t traditionally identify as Democrats. In analyzing national polling data in December, public interest lawyer Rob Hager noted that the Vermont senator’s favorability among political independents was far higher than for Hillary Clinton:
“More Independents think Sanders shares their values compared to Clinton by 47-33%; more Independents think Sanders authentically ‘cares about the needs and problems of people like’ them, compared to Clinton, by 59-40%; and vastly (38%) more Independents, 64% to 26% — and even a further corroborating margin of Republicans, 39% to 7% — think Sanders ‘is honest and trustworthy,’ compared to Clinton,” Hager wrote.
The Democratic base wants Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton
When it comes to winning elections, nothing is more important than firing up voters enough to count on them to show up at the polls on Election Day. And a fired-up base is something Bernie Sanders can provide in spades, while Hillary Clinton inspires very little passion among the diehard Democratic base. The clearest example can be seen in breaking down how members of MoveOn.org and Democracy for America (DFA) — the two largest progressive advocacy groups in America — voted in their respective presidential endorsement polls.
MoveOn’s endorsement, announced just this week, had Sanders winning 79 percent of over 340,000 votes cast. Hillary Clinton didn’t even win 15 percent of MoveOn members’ support. DFA’s poll was even more one-sided, with Sanders earning a record-breaking 87.9 percent of the vote out of more than 271,000 votes cast.
While it’s important to note that Clinton has won the endorsement of Planned Parenthood and several large labor unions, MoveOn and DFA endorsements were chosen by direct majority vote, rather than the result of a handful of organizational executives speaking on behalf of themselves. The Planned Parenthood endorsement in particular caused a huge backlash among its donors and supporters who are voting for Sanders.
One donor wrote an email to Planned Parenthood’s executive informing them that she would be withdrawing her presidential circle-level donor membership and would instead be giving a maximum donation of $2,700 to Bernie Sanders instead:
— Mimzy (@Mimzy122) January 8, 2016
Endorsements aside, gauging voter excitement over Sanders vs. Clinton isn’t hard to do when looking at the crowds each candidate attracts to their public appearances. Mic put the crowd estimates for each respective candidate’s largest rally side-by-side, and Bernie Sanders has every candidate beat by a wide margin — his largest rally attracted 28,000 people, while Clinton only attracted 5,000 at her largest event (specifically, her campaign kickoff in spring of 2015).
When all is said and done, the predictions of pundits and pollsters last summer couldn’t be more wrong — Bernie Sanders is a serious contender for the Democratic nomination and the presidency. If Democrats want to prevent a President Trump, they should do everything they can to make President Bernie Sanders a reality.
Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact Tom via email at [email protected]