What's the Real Meaning of Sanders' Appeal?
by Deacon Blues
No one should be surprised if Bernie Sanders wins Iowa and New Hampshire; he's surging in the first and is a regional favorite in the second. And no one should be surprised that the national media will make a big deal out of Hillary going 0-2, including our friends at MSNBC. But what exactly will such a start really tell us?
First, as the Bloomberg media story astutely tells us about the Des Moines Register poll, wherein Sanders is now within the margin of error of Hillary in Iowa (42-40%):
A caveat for Sanders is that his support appears to be concentrated in three Iowa counties—Black Hawk, Johnson, and Story—that are home to state universities. Those counties, where Sanders leads Clinton, 52 percent to 30 percent, account for 27 percent of his vote but just 21 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers, underscoring the extent to which Sanders is relying on younger voters, a notoriously difficult group to turn out.
So Sanders' much-trumpeted success with the young and independents in Iowa is a result of college towns, and his ability to sell the economic message better than Hillary. No surprise there, and hats off to Sanders. Yet you can't dismiss Sanders' appeal based simply on college towns when other national polls have shown lately that he does better in head-to-heads against leading GOP contenders than Hillary does. Simply put, he does better with disaffected voters and perhaps new voters than Hillary does, just like the GOP's outsiders are doing against their establishment candidates.
The missed message however is that Sanders is selling an aggressively progressive agenda and scoring with independent voters more than Hillary is, which destroys the electability argument against him.
Sure, I can argue all night long that eight years of Barack Obama's failed promises led to a Bernie Sanders, just like eight years of W led to Obama. But if the result is that progressive politics are now not only mainstream but a winning message in a national election, who cares how we got here?