A second national poll now shows that Senator Bernie Sanders has taken the lead over Hillary Clinton. Last week, a FOX News poll found that Sanders has the support of 47 percent of likely Democratic voters compared to 44 percent for Hillary Clinton. Wednesday, a new Reuters tracking poll shows that Sanders has pulled ahead of Clinton 47.3 percent to 43.9 percent.
A month ago, the FOX News poll gave Clinton the lead by 12 points. Two weeks ago in the Reuters poll, Clinton led Sanders 53 percent to 43 percent. The RealClear Politics average of polls shows that Sanders has closed the gap with Clinton to 5.6 percent. A month ago, Clinton led Sanders 52 percent to 37 percent in the RealClear average of national polls.
Reporters continue to ask Bernie Sanders if he is dropping out of the race after he lost the caucuses in Nevada last Saturday. This is a little odd since Bernie Sanders has actually won the popular vote by 51,000 votes thus far.
Sanders acknowledges that Hillary Clinton is favored in many of the primaries and caucuses on March 1st, as well as the upcoming primary in South Carolina. He told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that he is in this “for the long haul,” and predicts that he will have enough delegates to challenge Clinton at the Democratic National Convention this summer. “If you recall,” Sanders said “when we announced we were at three percent in the polls. We have come a long way since then.”
Sanders has to wage a two-front war for the nomination. On one hand, he has to take on Hillary Clinton who has run for office before, has a huge war chest, a Super PAC, and has the support of nearly all Democratic Party officers and elected officials. Sanders is fighting that war without the benefit of a Super PAC and special interest contributions.
On the other hand, Sanders has to battle a delegate selection process that gives the advantage to Hillary Clinton. Many call that process rigged. Despite the fact that Sanders has won the popular vote thus far by 10 percentage points, he has fewer delegates than Hillary Clinton. If delegates were awarded proportionally in the first three races, Sanders would lead in delegates 56 to 47. Instead, he trails 52 to 51. When the “Super Delegates” are factored in, Clinton has 67 delegates to 51 for Sanders. Clinton leads among all Super Delegates 502 to 70.
Super Delegates are elected Democratic officials like Governors, Senators, and members of Congress as well as Party officers. While they were elected to their current positions by voters or the state Democratic Parties, they were not elected based on who they would support for president. This group of designated delegates makes up 30 percent of all voting delegates at the National Convention and can negate the will of voters.
Super Delegates are a way for the Democratic Party establishment to control who wins the presidential nomination. Sanders must not just win primaries; he must win them in blow-outs like he did in New Hampshire to overtake the lead Clinton is handed by Super Delegates. Many feel this system is undemocratic. Several groups including MoveOn.org are circulating petitions to end Super Delegates. That won’t happen unless Sanders wins the White House.
Anything can happen in the primary. Clinton is dogged by a perception by voters that she is not honest and trustworthy. Some of that comes from the fact that Republicans have attacked her since the 1990s. Much of it comes from the fact that voters feel she is not transparent. Her continued refusal to release transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms reinforces that perception. A Federal judge, appointed by Bill Clinton, just ordered Hillary’s staffers to testify in the never-ending email controversy. This story will not go away soon even if no wrong doing is ever found.
Sanders has overwhelming support from voters under 30. So far, they have not turned out in the numbers they did for Barack Obama. If Sanders can get these voters to turn out, he has a good chance of winning the nomination. Bottom line is no one thought he would be leading in two national polls this soon—including Bernie Sanders. Stay tuned.