Presidential Campaign

Sanders wrongly counted out by media

There are two problems with the media coverage of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) presidential campaign. The first problem is that most of the mainstream media has already counted Sanders out as a candidate for the Democratic nomination and coronated Hillary Clinton as the nominee. The second problem is that the media obsession with Republican candidate Donald Trump and whom he is attacking on a given day, or in any given hour.

{mosads}There is no question that Clinton now has a strong national lead over Sanders in the race for the nomination. But the next time the media report a poll showing Clinton ahead of Sanders by 19 percentage points, or 23 points, consider the following.

On Nov. 16, 2007, Gallup released a poll that I link here and suggest every member of the media read and reread every day. That poll, at almost exactly the same time in the 2008 campaign that we are at today in the 2016 campaign, found that Clinton led then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) by 27 points! In that poll, Clinton had 48 percent, Obama had 21 percent.

In November 2007, many in the media counted Obama out, said he had no chance and quoted polls such as the Gallup poll that I cite here. They were all wrong.

As I have written before in The Hill, polls show that Sanders would defeat Trump in a general election, in most cases by landslide margins. Why don’t members of the media write Trump off? Because Trump wins one-fourth or one-fifth of the votes of one party in recent polling? What a double standard!

Sanders is the most authentic and compelling voice of progressive populism in the presidential campaign. His position in the polls in November 2015 is similar to, or stronger than, the position of Obama in the polls taken in November 2007. It is not the job of the media to coronate a candidate or to count out a candidate. Nor is it the job of the media to give exaggerated coverage to the freak-show aspects of the GOP campaign while giving short shrift to a compelling progressive candidate in the Democratic campaign.

It is very possible that Bernie Sanders wins the Iowa caucus and then wins the New Hampshire primary. Sanders may win neither, or he could win both. The voters of Iowa and New Hampshire should decide that, not pundits in the media. With his compelling message and his devoted followers, it would be a big mistake to count Sanders out in 2015 the way so many pundits counted Obama out in 2007.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at

Tags 2008 presidential campaign 2016 Democratic primary 2016 presidential campaign Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton polls

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