Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why Bernie Sanders is on the rise: It's the message, not the messenger

Ezra Klein at vox.com compares the unusual successes of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in their respective party primary campaigns. Trump seems at war with the GOP, trying to move that boat by pounding on the bow. Sanders behaves more like a loyal Democrat, moving that party's boat in a natural direction by nudges on the rudder.

The rise of Bernie, however, should cause great consternation in the Clinton camp. Check out the polling trends in the graph in the article.

Here are snippets.

Where Trump has never held elected office, Sanders is one of the longest-serving members of Congress; where Trump calls himself a Republican but seems to loathe his party, Sanders calls himself an independent socialist but acts like a loyal Democrat; where Trump delights in attacking his fellow candidates, Sanders refuses to go negative; where Trump heightens the contrasts between him and his critics, Sanders has been unveiling new policies to quell doubts from Black Lives Matter activists; where Trump is limiting the Republican Party's ability to reach beyond its base and win minority voters, Sanders is trying to expand the Democratic Party's base among the white working class and evangelicals; where Trump is a billionaire attempting to take over American politics, Sanders is a congressman of unusually modest means trying to stop billionaires from taking over American politics.

To put it simply, it's very unlikely that Trump is going to persuade the Republican Party that the proper position on immigration is to implement mass deportations and make Mexico pay to build a wall. But it's entirely possible Sanders could convince Democratic Party leaders that campaign finance reform is a much more important issue than they had previously recognized, and that a serious, root-and-branch overhaul of the system should be the party's top priority.

Sanders is still a long shot. He trails Clinton badly in national polls and in more diverse states. But if his rise continues, it may prove more durable, and more significant, than Trump's political stardom.

And if that trend continues, there may be more trouble ahead for Clinton in other state primaries.

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