In a rather shocking development, even for those that have long been supporters and of Bernie Sanders, the latest Qunnipiac poll has the Vermont Senator edging out Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton 41% to 40%. While this poll is clearly within the statistical margin of error, the most amazing development is the huge turnaround that the progressive Sanders has made in the polls in just a couple of months. Just in July, Secretary Clinton was leading 52% to 33%. In May, Clinton was beating Sanders 60% to 15%. Even the most die-hard Clinton supporter has to acknowledge that Sanders has the momentum in the Hawkeye State.
Probably most troubling for the Clinton campaign is that likely Iowa caucus goers are losing trust in Clinton and voters believe that Sanders cares more about the issues impacting them. I think that Hillary Clinton missed an opportunity to connect with voters on a more personal level when she was confronted by a desperate mother pleading for federal medical marijuana legislation. While Clinton’s aides got the contact info of the mother, it is hard for voters to feel that Clinton is on the right side of the issue, calling for more research and supporting basically a states’ rights position, when even Donald Trump is willing to proclaim that he supports medical marijuana 100%.
As PJMedia.com reports, the more that Iowa voters have learned about Bernie Sanders, the more they like him, at the same time Clinton’s favorability has taken a hit in Iowa:
“The more people in Iowa get to know about Bernie the more they like him and what he stands for,” said Stephanie Schwinn, Bremer County Democratic chair, in a statement released by the Sanders’ campaign. “His ideas for rebuilding the American middle class and taking on the billionaire class are resonating here in Iowa and across the country.”
Eighty-six percent in the poll said Bernie was honest and trustworthy, and 85 percent felt he cares. Only 64 percent said Hillary is honest and 78 percent felt she cares.
The polling trends in Iowa don’t look good for Hillary Clinton and it looks like Sanders has a great opportunity to upset the Clinton Machine, just as Barack Obama did in 2008. The Vermont progressive then has a much better chance of winning New Hampshire than Obama, as Sanders is already leading in the polls in the Granite State. While Sanders has to make inroads with people of color to compete in the long-run, his attention to racial justice, his plan to abolish private prisons and reform the criminal justice system and his platform to improve income inequality will likely start to resonate with minority communities once they learn more about him, especially if he wins both Iowa and New Hampshire.
Sanders has a series of events in South Carolina with civil rights activist and professor Dr. Cornel West that will only help educate voters on Sanders’ agenda. Sanders has garnered the backing of many Drug War reformers, based upon his history and presidential platform, and recent polls in Iowa, New Hampshire and now South Carolina, show that early presidential primary voters want the federal government to respect state law. Bernie Sanders’ progressive agenda is clearly catching fire and more and more voters are starting to #FeelTheBern.
Photo credit: Charlie Riedel / AP