Presidential Campaign

The Bernie Sanders surge


Democrats love Bernie Sanders! Whether they support Hillary Clinton, or seek an alternative to Hillary Clinton, Democrats have a soft spot for the seventy-something socialist independent senator from Vermont who may be the ultimate conviction politician in America today. Sanders is a national treasure, a man who knows what he believes and champions his causes with intelligence, passion and sincerity.

First, some data points. Both ABC/The Washington Post and CNN have just released new polls, and what is striking is the similarity of results on the Democratic side. In both polls, Clinton was supported by 60 percent of Democrats or slightly more. Vice President Biden was supported by 14 percent. Sanders was supported by 10 percent. And the other Democratic contenders — notably former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who was supported by only 1 to 3 percent — were so far back, they were barely visible.

{mosads}In purely political terms, Sanders is crowding out O’Malley. The deal on O’Malley is that he was a good governor of Maryland, and a fairly good mayor of Baltimore. But as the reaction in Baltimore after the latest riots suggests, as mayor, O’Malley was a law-and-order guy not unlike New Democrats, and not the rip-roaring populist he is campaigning as today.

Bernie Sanders, by contrast, has alway been the same Bernie Sanders, a true populist with a socialist twist, a leader who never bends with the political winds, and a man who radiates the kind of authenticity that Americans crave, but rarely find, in politicians today.

What will be fascinating to watch — if the Sanders surge continues and he rises even higher than his current 10 percent — will be how he polls in match-ups against Republican candidates. For now, O’Malley must be jealous about how Sanders surged from 0 percent to 10 percent, while O’Malley barely budged from 0 percent to 3 percent at best.

Bernie Sanders has earned the right for pollsters to include him in match-up polls. Wouldn’t it be amazing if polls soon show Sanders is running ahead of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in a race for the presidency? I would not bet on it, but I am not sure that three months from now, I would bet against it, either!

An inadvertent editorial deletion removed part of a sentence about Martin O’Malley’s tenure as mayor of Baltimore; the full sentence is now included in the text.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at

Tags 2016 Democratic primary 2016 presidential campaign Bernie Sanders Democratic Party Hillary Clinton Jeb Bush Joe Biden Martin O'Malley

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