Those who consider Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign to be nothing more than a novelty might want to think again. The Vermont senator finished only eight points behind Hillary Clinton in a recent poll, and its participants were active Democrats who are guaranteed to participate in next year’s primary election.
In a straw poll of the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s state delegates, held at its June 6 convention in Milwaukee, Clinton was limited to a 49-percent plurality over Sanders’ 41.
This respectable result is a dramatic improvement for the independent-turned-Democrat Sanders. He recently moved up in national polls to second place, taking 15 percent to Clinton’s 57, but those polls are of registered and likely voters. By contrast, participants in the recent Wisconsin poll were state party delegates who are practically guaranteed to vote in the state’s April 2016 presidential primary. And as a result, previous assumptions that Sanders only had support from voters who aren’t registered Democrats, or who aren’t regular voters, could need reanalysis.
He’s also gaining support from older Americans – the same generation that ordinarily makes up the stronghold of Republican Party supporters – because Sanders “struck a deeply personal chord with them,” the New York Times recently reported, in part due to their similarity to the 73-year-old candidate.
Tied for a distant third place in Wisconsin’s straw poll were former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and the undeclared Joe Biden, each taking three percent. Jim Webb, former senator of Virginia, scored two percent. One percent went to Lincoln Chafee, the once-Republican senator and once-independent governor of Rhode Island, who recently declared candidacy as a Democratic candidate for president.
Not included on the slate, but still getting write-in votes, were Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former governor of Iowa, neither of whom is a declared candidate for the nomination. Both scored below one percent in the poll.
Wisconsin’s Democratic primary isn’t until April 5, 2016, following 26 other states.
Featured image via AFGE via Flickr (modified)