Democratic party activists are all fired up about Bernie Sander’s campaign for the presidency, but many report that they are afraid to support him, because they believe that a ‘democratic socialist’ can’t win in a general election.
The latest CNN polls, however, show that Bernie Sanders has just as good of a shot as Hillary Clinton in beating the Republicans in 2016:—–
The uncertainty margin in all these matchups is +/- 3.0% or +/-3.5%.
According to this poll, Clinton does better than Sanders in a matchup with Jeb Bush, but in the other races, either Clinton or Sanders will beat Walker and Trump. What is interesting however is the fact that Clinton has little room for improvement, because most voters already know her and have made up their mind and more voters have an unfavorable view of her than favorable. In contrast, over half of voters have never heard of Sanders or have no opinion, but among the people who do, more have a favorable than unfavorable opinion. Sanders’ polling numbers have risen the more they know of Sanders, whereas Clinton’s polling numbers have fallen in recent months.
Candidate | Favorable | Unfavorable | Never heard of | No Opinion
H. Clinton __ 45% ______ 48% ______ 1% __________ 6%
B. Sanders _ 23% ______ 22% ______ 41% _________ 13%
Jeb Bush ___ 33% ______ 43% ______ 11% _________ 12%
S. Walker ___ 21% _____ 23% ______ 42% _________ 13%
D. Trump ___ 33% _____ 58% _______ 2% __________ 7%
I predict that Bernie Sanders will have a better shot of winning in a general election than Hillary Clinton, because he has more cross-over appeal than Hillary. Lots of angry white people who normally vote Republican will vote for Bernie Sanders. He will pull people to the polls who are disgusted with the system and who normally don’t vote. Sanders will do better in the swing states than Clinton. Yes, there are people who have a gut reaction against the word “socialism,” but once people hear Sanders talking about universal health care, tuition-free college, $15 minimum wage, etc., a lot of people will decide that ‘socialism’ isn’t all that bad. A Pew Research poll in 2012 found that the number of people who have a negative perception of socialism has dropped dramatically in recent years, although 60% still view socialism negatively:
Perception | Positive | Negative
Capitalism __ 50% ____ 40%
Socialism ___ 31%____ 60%
What is interesting, however, is the fact that only half of Americans have a positive view of Capitalism. I think that many Americans would be willing to vote for Sanders, once it becomes clear to Americans that Sanders’ brand of socialism isn’t about government ownership of the means of production, but rather about government providing health care, free college tuition, increasing social security benefits and government jobs program to rebuild American infrastructure. Polls show that the majority of Americans support many of the policies that Sanders wants to implement. (I would be leery of trusting polls by the Progressive Change Institute, but polls from other groups like Gallup also find that the majority support these policies.)
The thing I worry about is the vicious attack ads that Sanders will face in the general election. Clinton will loose most of her supporters if she runs negative campaign ads against Sanders, but right-wing dark money groups will have no problem running negative ads on TV attacking Sanders for:
1. Having a child out of wedlock,
2. Being a lazy deadbeat who was unemployed and never held a steady job in the 1970s,
3. Being a godless Jew (both not believing in God and being a Jew),
4. Showing images of the US turning into the USSR.
However, the attack ads will be just as vicious with Hillary Clinton (dirty money at Clinton Foundation, Benghazi, Whitewater) and the difference is that Sanders can say he is honest and he doesn’t play dirty politics and everyone will believe him, so the attack ads will have less impact than they would have with a normal politician. In contrast, the general public perceives Hillary as being corrupt, so attack ads are more likely to work against her.