With all the attention going to the Republican primary race, we should not forget that there is a Democratic contest too. The media may not have as much interest in it because there is less drama and because of the belief that Hillary Clinton is the inevitable choice. While it is true that she does have a commanding lead in the polls, her neo-liberal policies of being a Wall Street-friendly warmonger who takes Republican-lite positions on economic issues and is only liberal on the GRAGGS (guns, race, abortion, god, gays, sex) issues, though even there on some of them she is a latecomer and less than enthusiastic.
The argument in favor of her that seems to seems to be brought up most frequently is her presumed electability. Whatever her faults, her supporters say, she is the only one we can be sure of who will defeat whoever the Republican circus eventually throws up, and that while the message of Bernie Sanders may be more appealing and generating a lot more enthusiasm, it is not acceptable to a majority of Americans.
But is that true? Brent Budowsky writes that when one looks at the actual polling, there are signs of Sanders strength that will surprise many.
In a new McClatchy-Marist poll, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) leads Republican candidate Donald Trump by a landslide margin of 12 percentage points, 53 to 41. In the McClatchy poll, Sanders also leads former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) by a landslide margin of 10 points, 51 to 41.
The huge Sanders advantage over Trump is not new. In the last four match-up polls between them reported by Real Clear Politics, Sanders defeated Trump by margins of 12, 9, 9 and 2 percentage points.
For today, there are two issues these polls present. First, the national reporting of the presidential campaign completely fails to reflect Sanders’s strength in a general election, especially against Trump, and against Bush as well.
Second, and perhaps more important, Sanders’s strength in general election polling gives credence to the argument I have been making in recent years, that American voters favor progressive populist positions which, if taken by Democrats in the general election, would lead to a progressive populist Democratic president and far greater Democratic strength in Congress.
It is a fallacy argued by conservatives and, in my view, inaccurately parroted by the mainstream media, that Sanders and other liberals take positions that are far too “left.” The polling shows, issue by issue, and increasingly in general election match-ups of Republicans running against Sanders, that it is the left, not the right, which has the upper hand with American voters.
The article by Budowsky refers to just one poll but the site Real Clear Politics provides updated averages of the more recent polls. While the results there are not as dramatic, it shows that Sanders holds his own over any Republican as much Clinton does. The average gap between Sanders and Trump has closed recently while Clinton maintains a small lead. Sanders beats Bush by a small margin while Clinton is pretty much tied with him. Sanders beats Cruz by a larger margin than Clinton does.
All this suggests that the claims by Clinton supporters that we should hold our noses and vote for her because she is the only one who can win is not a valid argument. She has to earn our vote the old-fashioned way, by offering policies that make us want to vote for her despite our misgivings over her history and record.
You have to hand it to Sanders. Despite the media repeatedly chasing after every new squirrel that the Trump campaign releases, he refuses to follow the herd. After making an appropriate statement condemning the latest idiocy, Sanders returns doggedly to his main issues, that of inequality, education, and jobs.