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Bernie Sanders Is Creating a New and Untested Electoral Force in American Politics

Posted on Feb 18, 2016

    Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane Sanders, with supporters in Phoenix. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

The conventional wisdom that holds Bernie Sanders is merely attracting “wine-track young liberals and small-donor donations” is “radically incomplete,” writes Jeff Stein at Vox:

“Sanders’s coalition looks very different from what Obama created, or what most experts had expected,” Stein says. “According to pollsters and political science professors, Sanders appears to have combined elements of both Obama and Clinton’s 2008 voting blocs—he’s building something new and untested as an electoral force in American politics.”

Dave Wasserman, a political analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, says: “The irony of this Democratic primary so far is that Hillary Clinton’s path to victory involves winning the voters she lost in 2008. And Bernie Sanders’s path to victory depends on winning the voters Hillary Clinton won in 2008. [...] That’s a remarkable turn of events in just eight years.”

Stein continues:

Sanders is winning white working-class voters, who overwhelmingly supported Clinton against Obama. In Iowa, Sanders won by a 57-to-41 margin among low-income voters. He followed that up by crushing Clinton among those at the bottom of the income distribution by a 71-to-25 margin in New Hampshire, according to CBS’s exit polling data. […]

Sanders’s best chance of winning the Democratic primary may rest on winning many of the conservative red states that broke for Clinton in 2008.

The experts stress that there’s no guarantee the white working class in the rest of the country will follow the voting patterns of those in Iowa and New Hampshire. But if they do, Sanders could pick up many of the states traditionally thought of as friendly to conservative, “Blue Dog” Democrats.

“The question is if Bernie Sanders’s message will resonate with low-income whites outside of New England and Iowa,” Wasserman said. “If it does, that’s where Sanders could start giving Hillary Clinton fits in the delegate chase.” [...]

In 2016, Clinton appears poised to take the minority-heavy states she lost last time around. But if the trends from New Hampshire and Iowa hold up, many of her safest states from 2008 could suddenly be thrown into play, according to pollsters.

Continue reading here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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