A new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released Thursday confirms that Hillary Clinton’s huge lead in Iowa has evaporated. According to that poll, Sanders has pulled to within the margin of error, trailing Clinton by two percent. Three recent polls in Iowa now show Clinton either trailing Bernie Sanders or within the margin of error with in the Hawkeye State. Clinton led Sanders by 20 points a month ago. Clinton is far behind in New Hampshire and her lead nationally is now in single digits.
The former Secretary of State told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie Wednesday that she was not nervous about her slip in the polls. The actions of the Clinton campaign, however, tell a much different story. Hillary has shifted her attacks from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders. And, another sure sign of desperation is the fact that Chelsea Clinton has been dispatched as an attack dog—a job Bill Clinton performed in the 2008 primary with Barack Obama.
Chelsea Clinton began attacking Senator Bernie in New Hampshire Tuesday. The young Clinton played fast and loose with the facts as she accused Sanders of trying to “dismantle Obamacare and Medicare.” Chelsea said that Bernie Sanders was going to take healthcare away from” millions of Americans.” These statements are what one would expect from a Republican, not Chelsea Clinton.
Senator Sanders favors Medicare for all as a way of providing healthcare to all Americans at a lower cost. This is a position Hillary Clinton held previously. Unlike Republicans, who repeatedly vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act with nothing to take its place, Sanders has never proposed repealing Obamacare first, then hoping he can get a replacement adopted. Accusing Sanders of trying to dismantle Medicare is patently false. To say he will take healthcare away from millions is a false statement.
Democrats have almost universally panned the attack, believing it to be ineffective and a misuse of her talents according to Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes in an article in The Hill. Chelsea Clinton has not previously been used as an attack dog. One Democratic strategist said this tells you as much as anything about how the Clinton campaign is “freaking out.”
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told The Hill the attacks are a sign the Clinton campaign is worried. “I perhaps could see it coming from Bill, but I was taken aback hearing it from Chelsea,” said Grijalva. “I was surprised and thought it was out of character. It seems the Clinton campaign is going into full destruction mode very early in this process.”
Senator Sanders responded to Clinton’s attack moments after the State of the Union address Tuesday night. He told CNN Chelsea Clinton has not read his healthcare plan, and called her claims that he wants to get rid of ObamaCare and “dismantle” Medicare and private insurance “absolutely wrong.” He disputed the notion that his plan would give outsized influence to state governors, a majority of whom are Republicans. “She is absolutely wrong,” Sanders said. “This is a plan that works in 50 states in this country, whether you have conservative Republicans or progressive Democrats. It’s a national program.
Clinton surrogates have been on cable news Thursday ramping up attacks on Bernie Sanders, saying he has never been vetted and that once they run attack ads against him, his support will disappear. This veiled threat points to the fact that the Clinton campaign is feeling like it is 2008 all over again.
More troubling for Clinton is that Sanders leads among voters under 45 by 32 percentage points. He leads among Independent voters by 42 percent. Clinton’s supporters are much less enthusiastic than Sanders supporters. In addition, Sanders has raised all his money from small donors whereas Clinton’s money comes largely from wealthy donors, No one has had so many different contributors this early in a campaign in history as Bernie Sanders. These donors have skin in the game and this should not be brushed off.
If Hillary Clinton ends up being the Democratic nominee, an outcome that is not a given, she runs a huge risk by alienating Sanders supports by these attacks—particularly attacks devoid of fact like Chelsea Clinton’s. Hillary needs those supporters in the General Election. Unfortunately, as Mitt Romney found out, going too far in order to win a primary sometimes makes defeat inevitable in November.