Krystal Ball: Bernie seems 'to have a little extra mojo post heart attack'

Opinion by: Krystal Ball 

 

CNN is out with a new poll of New Hampshire and it's got some big news for Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins Louisiana primary Oh, Canada: Should the US emulate Canada's National Health Service? Trump glosses over virus surge during Florida trip MORE.


The Vermont senator has jumped into first in the key primary state. Meanwhile Biden dropped like a stone.  I wonder what part of his "suck it up and vote for Joe" pitch is falling flat?
 
Poor CNN doesn't seem to be taking the news well. As Ryan Grim pointed out, they wrote 5 different stories about the poll and none of them bothered to mention that Sanders is in first! The closest they came was this headline: "Sanders and Warren sit atop in New Hampshire. But there's no clear frontrunner."
 
My favorite by far though was this one: "Buttigieg in fourth, but a strong fourth." You literally cannot make this stuff up.
 
There's a lot of good news for Sanders buried in this poll. First of all, don't tell all the pundits who call him divisive and angry and say he makes their skin crawl, but Sanders actually has the highest favorability rating of any of the candidates. Turns out that outside of pundit land, normal people actually really like Bernie Sanders. He also wins easily when voters are just asked which candidate they like the most. His 27% tops Biden’s second place 20%. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTrump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' Pharma pricing is a problem, but antitrust isn't the (only) solution MORE comes in fourth in this metric, but I’m sure if you ask the folks at CNN they will tell you it's a strong fourth.
 
If you look at who voters trust on the issues, Bernie also does extremely well. He tops the field in terms of who voters would trust in health care, which is weird since we are consistently told how Medicare for all will kill seniors or whatever. And he tops the field in who voters trust to handle climate change. As it turns out, those are the top two issues for primary voters in the Granite State.
 
So, some good numbers all around here for Bernie. And also for Buttigieg, of course, who will be well positioned if all of the top three contenders spontaneously self-destruct.
 
This poll fits well into a broader dynamic that seems to be developing post-debate. In the polls we've seen so far, Sanders appears to have picked up steam; I guess Bernie really is back. While at the same time, Warren's momentum seems to have decidedly flagged.
 
It's a little too early to call it a true trend but even the consistently Bernie-skeptical Nate Silver is noting his upsurge.
 
Sanders added a couple of points in a recent Morning Consult national poll where he inched ahead of Warren in the early primary states. Like the CNN New Hampshire poll, Bernie’s favorability numbers top the field in this one as well.  And overall, since the debate, he's seen the Largest upswing of any of the candidates in the RCP national polling average. He’s gone up from 15.6% on debate day to 17.7% now.
 
At the same time, Biden and Warren have both fallen. Biden’s drop has been much discussed in the media, Warren's post-debate drop in this metric has been almost identical. She's down 1.7 points in the RCP national average from 23.4 to 21.7, but no one has really talked about it at all. Her drop is even more significant if you compare where she is now to her recent high of 26.8% when she briefly overtook Joe BidenJoe BidenDonald Trump Jr. to self-publish book 'Liberal Privilege' before GOP convention Tom Price: Here's how we can obtain more affordable care The Memo: Democrats feel rising tide in Florida MORE to claim national frontrunner status.
 
If I had to guess what's going on, I’d say there's a couple of things. First, it looks to me like the mini surge of Mayor Pete, "Pistol Pete" as Van Jones calls him, has cost Warren a bit of her support with affluent white liberals. Prior to this debate, Warren had been rapidly consolidating the educated white liberal vote. It certainly wouldn't be surprising if Pete’s media-fueled rise has eaten into Warren's support a little bit. Digging into those New Hampshire numbers, Pete is best liked by Hillary voters with post-grad degrees, a group that has also had a strong Warren affinity.
 
Second, I believe Bernie’s greater contrast with Warren is starting to pay dividends. In his speeches and interviews, he's started making some distinctions with Warren, the capitalist to her bones. This is showing up in one particularly interesting metric in that New Hampshire poll. Voters were asked which candidate was most progressive. Last month, Bernie beat Warren on that metric by only 17 points. This month he's jumped out to a 29-point lead on that issue. If you want to win, voters have to understand what makes you different from the pack and this metric shows that Bernie is effectively making the case that if you are looking for a progressive candidate, he's the guy.  
 
But finally, as Michael Moore said to me and Saagar last week, Bernie does just seem to have a little extra mojo post heart attack. Just take a look at him making the case for working class pressure yesterday with CNBC’s John Harwood
 
That's it. That's the case right there. Perhaps all those pundits who said he was finished and should drop out after his health scare should apologize. LOL. That will never happen. They will just keep being wrong and getting raises!