Sanders is winning the battle of ideas

To use a phrase that President Kennedy often employed, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden endorses Texas Democratic House candidate Julie Oliver Ocasio-Cortez rolls out Twitch channel to urge voting Calls grow for Democrats to ramp up spending in Texas MORE (Vt.) is winning the battle of ideas in the presidential campaign by a landslide.

The RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Sanders defeating Republican front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE by more than 17 percentage points, defeating Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzQuinnipiac poll finds Biden, Trump tied in Texas China could cut our access to critical minerals at any time — here's why we need to act The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Two weeks out, Trump attempts to rally the base MORE (R-Texas) by 10 points and defeating Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) by 2 points, a smaller margin but still advantage Sanders. Sanders runs stronger than Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE (D) in match-up polling against all three Republican contenders.


In the Democratic race, Clinton has been moving to adapt the Sanders tone of progressive populism, which is good for Clinton, good for Democrats and a major victory for Sanders.

There is essentially a kind of sub-primary between Sanders and Trump in the battle of ideas in opposing the establishment and promoting real and powerful change. If the Sanders-Trump contest for the anti-establishment mantle was a boxing contest, the fight would have already ended by a knockout for Sanders — the lead that Sanders has over Trump, in poll after poll, is so huge that if the general election follows the polling, Democrats would win a majority of the House and Senate.

Let's consider why Sanders runs stronger than Clinton in match-up polls against Republicans, and why Sanders obliterates Trump such gigantic margins in polling.

Young people: Most young people today would tend to be either traditionally liberal in the style of Sanders, or libertarian in the style of Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate MORE (R-Ky.). Sanders as the vigorous opponent of the establishment appeals to both groups. Trump is widely disliked by liberals and Sanders has a huge advantage over Trump with libertarians because of Trump's overbearing and hostile style that some conservatives and liberals have compared to neo-fascism.

Sanders also leads Clinton among young women and leads Trump, who has taken the GOP war against women to new heights, among all women.

Independents: Sanders has powerful appeal to political independents. He is seen as honest, authentic, reformist and anti-establishment and radiates a political goodwill, compared to the hostility that Trump radiates, which is anathema to political independents.

This support for Sanders from independents is one major reason why he runs ahead of Clinton in general election match-ups and so much stronger than Trump in head-to-head polling.

White blue-collar workers: Often called "Reagan Democrats," the Sanders form of populism has great appeal to this group. He offers strong opposition to insiders, strong support for increased minimum wage and strong opposition to trade agreements that are seen as having lost American jobs. Trump also opposes many of the same trade policies that Sanders opposes, but Trump not only opposes an increase in the minimum wage, he has stated that, in his opinion, American workers are actually overpaid — an absurd notion that is offensive to working-class Reagan Democrats and blue-collar workers generally.

In the battle of ideas within the Democratic Party, Sanders runs stronger than Clinton against Republicans while Clinton has been adopting a growing number of Sanders' themes.

In the battle of ideas for the anti-establishment mantle, Sanders is winning by a huge margin over Trump.

In the battle of ideas for the future of America, the fact that Sanders is winning the battle of ideas in the campaign offers powerful testimony to the surge of progressive populism that insiders and mainstream media do not appreciate, but American voters do!

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