Clinton worried that more people are ‘Feeling the Bern’

The hot news in presidential elections this week has been the rise in the polls of Bernie Sanders that has seriously challenged Hillary Clinton’s air of inevitability as the eventual Democratic nominee. Her past policy positions, some of which like her warmongering and pro-Wall Street and pro-oligarchy stances, are distasteful to the more activist and progressive members of the Democratic party. These people are rallying around Sanders and the movement has been such that even the pundit class, many of whom were ignoring the Democratic race because it seemed like she was a shoo-in, are now sitting up and taking notice.

Her main argument has been that she will win against any Republican while Bernie Sanders will lose, and the feeling that she will be the inevitable nominee so why waste your vote on a loser. Those two pillars of her campaign have become undermined by recent polls.

As of today, Clinton or Sanders would both beat either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. Sanders’s’ poll numbers have also been surging in Iowa, the state with the first caucus on Monday, February 1, and in New Hampshire, where the first primary takes place on Tuesday, February 9.

Take for example, this chart about the situation in Iowa.

Iowa clinton-lead

What should be disturbing to her is that young people, especially young women are flocking to Sanders, overturning the myth that Sanders’s support mainly comes from misogynistic white men.

For all the attention this band of unpleasant men with mommy issues attracts, you might assume they’re core to Sanders’ support among young progressives. But a new poll from Rock the Vote is turning that conventional wisdom on its head. Yes, there’s a big gender gap among young voters backing Bernie Sanders. But it’s not among men. Voting-age women under the age of 35 now favor Sanders by 20 percentage points over Clinton. You read that right: Young female voters support Bernie Sanders by an expansive margin.

The poll, published Monday in USA Today, was conducted among more than 1,000 young adults by the polling firm Ipsos. Sanders leads broadly among voting-age millennial Democrats and Independents: 46 percent to 35 percent for Clinton. But Sanders’ advantage among young, voting-age men — a modest 4 percentage points — is barely outside the margin of error. Far from being a drag on on Clinton’s candidacy, this poll suggests, young men are the demographic keeping her in the hunt among millennials.

Progressive groups like MoveOn have endorsed him by a massive margin. For a full list of the people and groups that have endorsed Sanders, and it is quite impressive, see here.

Planned Parenthood has endorsed Clinton but I can understand that as a strategic move. That organization is fighting a rearguard battle for survival against relentless attacks by Republicans. It, more than many other groups, needs a Democratic president to have its back. It probably felt that it needed to back what it felt as the presumptive winner, knowing that Sanders would still vigorously support them even if their gamble failed and he won.

In 2008 too Clinton was the presumptive favorite to win but her surprisingly bad third place finish in Iowa seriously dented her aura of being destined to win and although she edged out Barack Obama in New Hampshire, she ended up losing the race. She clearly does not want to lose in Iowa or New Hampshire this time and has started hitting Sanders hard at what she considers his weakest point, gun control, but also charging that his plans to curb Wall Street and his health care proposals are seriously flawed.

Clinton charged that Sanders’s policy proposals were unrealistic, that the Vermont senator would raise taxes on middle-class families and that he could not be trusted to fight special interests and protect President Obama’s achievements, including his signature health-care law.

On health care, she argued that Sanders’s “Medicare-for-all” plan would jeopardize the Affordable Care Act and effectively turn over health coverage programs to the states, many of them led by Republican governors.

Her charges about Sanders’ health care plan are false. His ‘Medicare for All’ would be a federal plan and states would not be able to eliminate coverage. It would replace Obamacare, which is a cumbersome plan anyway and deserves to be replaced with something better. [UPDATE: Zaid Jilani writes that her new policy opposing single payer health plans can be traced to the huge amounts of money she has received from the health industry.]

The idea that she can be trusted more than Sanders to fight special interests is laughable on its face. As for the claim that Sanders would raise taxes on the ‘middle class’, since she thinks that even people earning up to $250,000 are middle class, that shows just how out of touch she is with ordinary people, since the median household income is around $53,000.

Sanders says that Clinton’s recent and misleading attacks on him are signs that she is in serious trouble.

Sanders gained a lot of respect for his refusal to exploit those issues that Republicans are dwelling on against her, like Clinton’s email problem and her husband Bill’s sexual history, and his quick apology and action when some on his campaign staff gained unauthorized access to Clinton supporters’ data.

It is perfectly fair and indeed desirable for candidates to point out their differences in their policies with their rivals within their parties and with the opposing parties. That is what election campaigns should be all about. But Clinton needs to be careful that her attacks on Sanders are not seen as unfair. That could backfire because he is widely seen as a decent and ethical man,


  1. brucegee1962 says

    The fact is, the specific policy differences between Hillary and Bernie probably don’t matter very much. Unless there is an unprecedented Democratic sweep, Congress is going to block anything that either one of them does. Bernie’s “Medicare for all” is lovely, but it’s a pipe dream.

    At least for the next four years, the primary job of a Democratic president will be to veto Republican attempts to blow up the government, and to nominate justices. Either candidate should be perfectly adequate for those tasks.

    When my primary comes around, I intend to vote on whichever the two polls best against the current Republican front-runner. Beating that person (especially if it’s either Trump or Cruz) by a resounding margin is the main thing that matters — any actual accomplishments once elected will be, frankly, icing on the cake.

  2. Johnny Vector says

    brucegee1962: While you are correct about the first term of either of them being unproductive, there is another component, which is shifting the Overton Window. If someone who calls himself a Democratic Socialist can win the presidency on that, all of a sudden a whole lot of congressional candidates are going to start running on that platform. Which means that when the congress does swing back to Democratic control, there might be enough liberals there to actually accomplish something.

    In the general, I will strongly support whichever of them wins the primary. But in the primary, I want to do something to show the country what progressivism really looks like, so I’ll be voting for Sanders.

  3. moarscienceplz says

    I’m no Nate Silver, but I think Sanders as nominee would actually improve the overall picture for the Dems. He has the Millennials excited and that could translate into better turnout because they are among the groups that are often fair-weather voters. Congress under President Sanders could be a lot bluer than under Clinton.

  4. says

    I had a brief interaction on Twitter yesterday with someone who called Hillary Clinton a “socialist”.

    After barrel under monkey flan, walking walking at dusty walk.

    Sorry, apparently words don’t have meaning anymore and you can just use them randomly.

  5. doublereed says

    The Young Turks weighed in on the fact that Bernie Sanders is winning in a lot of respects. One of the facts is that Bernie actually beats Hillary when in comes to Independent voters. This is more intuitive than one would think, because while they may be more moderate, the fact that they consider themselves independent may mean they are simply distrustful of both parties.

    I have heard some cries of sexism toward Bernie Sanders supporters. As if the only reason why people wouldn’t like Hillary is because she’s a woman. I just respond that obviously that means Hillary Clinton supporters are anti-semites.

  6. moarscienceplz says

    I have heard some cries of sexism toward Bernie Sanders supporters.

    IOW they are saying we should support Hillary Clinton primarily because she’s a woman? Sexism works in the other direction, too.
    If somebody told me that, I’d tell them that if they can get Elizabeth Warren to run I’d support her with all my ability.

  7. doublereed says

    It’s not common, but Hillary does have a lot of support and a lot of people want to see a woman president as soon as possible.

  8. John Morales says


    It’s not common, but Hillary does have a lot of support and a lot of people want to see a woman president as soon as possible.

    In an uncommon way, a lot of people want to see a woman president?

    (Your quantification is obscure to me, leaving aside how gender is a preferential criterion; a lot of those who share an uncommon view is not very compelling)

    BTW, I’ve heard only good things about Elizabeth Warren, but mixed things about Hillary Clinton. Accordingly, I’m with moarscienceplz (not that I’m American).

  9. says

    It would replace Obamacare, which is a cumbersome plan anyway and deserves to be replaced with something better.

    I wonder if that could backfire on her. I know that, here in Linn County, Iowa, there are Democrats active in the local party that would agree with that assessment. To them, Obamacare is a step in the right direction, but not anywhere close to being the final stage. Has Clinton bought into the establishment’s efforts to (understandably) advertise Obamacare as the best thing since sliced bread? I’m not convinced the party base agrees. I would be curious to see some polls on this rather than relying on anecdotes, of course. So…since I have the internet handy…here’s an article from The Hill that states, “The idea remains extremely popular among Democrats, with nearly 80 percent in support.”

  10. says

    doublereed @5:

    As if the only reason why people wouldn’t like Hillary is because she’s a woman.

    I find it tricky. I know there are people who claim that they don’t like Hillary because she’s a Clinton and they found Bill to be too moderate. There’s one issue there in tying her to her husband’s policies. That’s not cool. Sexist? Maybe. Hard to tell because it’s hard to say if people would have a similar attitude toward the husband of a politician they don’t like since there aren’t a lot of major female politicians. There could be another issue in that they are hiding their sexism behind there dislike for Bill Clinton.
    But, on the other hand, there were a lot of people excited about the idea of Elizabeth Warren running for president. That, for me, indicates that sexism is not that big of a factor. Or at least not the only factor.

  11. Holms says

    I had not heard anything about Sanders being the candidate of ‘misgynist white men,’ where does that one come from? It sounds like it is straight out of the Clinton camp, something like “voting for Sanders means voting for a man over a woman therefore you hate women.”

    This calculated cop-out type of vote is the primary reason the centrist candidates are continually considered the most viable. Meanwhile, the more lunatic conservatives have no such compunctions, and will happily vote for the most apocalyptically regressive candidate available.

    Want progressive change? Vote for the progressive candidate. It really isn’t complex.

  12. doublereed says

    @8 John Morales

    Phrasing was unclear. It is not common to hear cries of sexism about Bernie Sanders supporters. I don’t want to give the impression that there’s lots and lots of Clinton supporters think Sanders’ supporters are automatically sexist or something. But there are certainly some.

    @10 Leo Buzalsky

    I don’t think it’s ridiculous to say that they would have similar overall ideologies even if they would run things differently (in particular: Neoliberalism). They were obviously close as individuals considering they’re husband and wife. But Hillary has been in politics awhile (and I would include her role as First Lady as “in politics”) and there’s plenty to criticize for her personal track record.

  13. Vincent says

    Their differences matter in principle. Yes, in practice, both will likely be incapacitated by a republican congress unwilling to do anything. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Bernie is a bonafide progressive while Hillary is a corporate shill. I know which of the 2 I”d rather have vetoing Obamacare repeals and nominating justices. Because on the off chance that the left does own a congress at some point, Bernie’s policies are far superior and will benefit us far more.

  14. StevoR says

    Her past policy positions, some of which like her warmongering and pro-Wall Street and pro-oligarchy stances, ..

    Um, really? Do you really think that’s a fair and accurate characterisation of Hillary Clinton’s stances? I don’t.

    … are distasteful to the more activist and progressive members of the Democratic party.

    In other words, the Far Left fringe of the Democratic party which isn’t representative of the Democratic party overall. Let alone the majority of Americans. The various parties bases and the party supporters tend to love and be driven towards their Fringes -- but the majority are less convinced and often find the extremes off putting.

    To win an election you need to appeal most to the most people -- the central majority -- and not either extreme fringe.

    Incidentally, FTB generally and this blog esp. are on that Left-wing fringe which is something y’all should keep in mind. I personally am on the Left wing fringe too (though not as extreme or as ideologically simply driven as some people here) but am clear sighted enough to know it and understand why we’re not always or quickly going to get what we think is ideal.

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