The Bernie Sanders Surge Is Over? Not Quite

bernie-sanders-2016-formidable-republican-oppThere has been a bit of chatter surrounding a post from this morning on FiveThirtyEight titled “The Bernie Sanders Surge Appears To Be Over.” Combined with the strange interruption over the weekend by a couple of agitators claiming to be with #BlackLivesMatter, some people have pointed to this as proof that this is the end of a short political phenomenon – but they’re wrong.

First of all, 28,000 people showed up to see Bernie Sanders at a rally in Portland this weekend. That is the largest crowd to show up for any presidential candidate so far, including the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. Last night in Los Angeles, 27,500 people showed up on a Monday night to hear him speak, the same day he picked up the endorsement of the nation’s largest nurses union.

Needless to say, it seems that a lot of folks simply read the headline from FiveThirtyEight, and didn’t read the entire article by Harry Enten – especially the last three paragraphs which clearly state that this isn’t over.

As I wrote when he got into the race, Sanders had the potential to pick up a lot of Warren supporters; the two have nearly identical voting records in the Senate. Their supporters can be defined as the anti-Clinton left. The combined vote percentage for Sanders and Warren in the April UNH survey was 33 percent — just about the level of support that Sanders alone had in the July UNH poll. In other words, Sanders has won over the liberal flank of the Democratic Party and hasn’t grown much beyond it.

Sanders seems to be suffering a similar fate in Iowa. While no pollster surveyed the race in April, May, June and July, the three live-interview polls from the first half of the year that included Warren as a choice gave Warren and Sanders a combined vote percentage of 21 percent, on average. That’s only slightly below where Sanders has recently been polling in the Hawkeye State.

None of this is to say that Sanders won’t rise further or even win one or both of these states. It’s just that, for now, the Sanders surge has slowed (or stopped), and gaining more support will be harder for him than it has been. To win in Iowa or New Hampshire, Sanders will have to appeal to voters less predisposed to him than his current supporters. (Source)

The polls show that his numbers have peaked with voters who know who he is, but we are still about 5 months from the Iowa caucuses and the kickoff of the primary season. So yes, Bernie Sanders’ surge is over, but that’s only with the people who pay attention to politics on a regular basis. Now that he has picked up most of the possible support from these individuals, now is the time where Bernie Sanders has to start reaching out to those who don’t follow politics as a normal part of their daily routine.

As an example, I can ask my coworkers if they can name any of the 2016 candidates, and most will name Donald Trump and possibly Hillary Clinton. Only a couple have heard of any candidates besides those two, and only one named Bernie Sanders. That’s because like many other Americans, they don’t pay close attention to politics this early in the season. Once the political ads start saturating TV channels closer to the primaries, then those numbers will start to change again.

Political pundits always have to have some new, speculative, and/or controversial angle to keep their ratings up. I’m sure that some will run with the headline and declare that the Sanders campaign has started to fizzle out, despite the fact he is drawing some very substantial crowds long before the advertising blitz has begun. This isn’t a sprint, this is a marathon, and Bernie Sanders is no stranger to long-distance runs.

Image via Formidable Republican Opposition on Facebook. 


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