Ever since Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) launched his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, he has remained well within the top tier of candidates, much to the chagrin of party leaders who would prefer to dismiss his radical socialist populism and fervent base of supporters.
The senator’s resiliency following a heart attack and his staying power in the polls have garnered some serious attention, however, and now many of those figures within the Democratic Party establishment are at least beginning to come to terms with the possibility that Sanders could end up winning the nomination in 2020, Politico reported.
Party establishment taking note
David Brock, a longtime Clinton ally who opposed Sanders during the 2016 primary, told Politico, “It may have been inevitable that eventually you would have two candidates representing each side of the ideological divide in the party. A lot of smart people I’ve talked to lately think there’s a very good chance those two end up being [former Vice President Joe] Biden and Sanders.” Brock added, “They’ve both proven to be very resilient.”
Dan Pfeiffer, an adviser to former President Barack Obama, said of Sanders, “I believe people should take him very seriously. He has a very good shot of winning Iowa, a very good shot of winning New Hampshire, and other than Joe Biden, the best shot of winning Nevada.” He added, “He could build a real head of steam heading into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.”
Part of the reasoning behind Sanders’ apparent staying power at or near the head of the field is the fact that, unlike many of the other candidates, he hasn’t been truly subjected to any sustained scrutiny from the media or even from other candidates — likely due to the fact that so many had initially written him off as standing no chance of lasting through to the Democratic National Convention, much less actually winning the nomination.
Solid poll numbers
Based upon Sanders’ standing in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, however, the media and Democratic establishment would be wise to take notice. Nationally, Sanders sits solidly in second place, albeit roughly nine points behind Biden.
In the two early voting states, Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders is statistically at or near the lead. In Iowa, Sanders trails South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg by two points, 22-20%, while in New Hampshire, the senator leads the mayor by a little more than one point, 19-17.7%.
In Nevada, Sanders sits in a virtual tie for second place with 19.8% support — just 0.2% behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — while in South Carolina, he ranks third with 15.3%. Perhaps most shockingly, Sanders is statistically tied with Biden for the lead in California with about 21% support.
“Not going anywhere”
Fox News reported that, in addition to Sanders’ strong showing in a range of polls, the openly-professed socialist senator is also handily defeating his Democrat rivals in terms of campaign fundraising and inarguably has one of the firmest support bases of any of the Democratic candidates.
All of the above leads to the conclusion that, whether the party establishment likes it or not, Democrats had better accept the fact that Sanders will most likely still be in contention for the nomination by the time the national convention rolls around this summer.
“They can go ahead and crown Joe Biden if they want to, but Bernie Sanders is not going anywhere and his followers are not going anywhere,” Tezlyn Figaro, a former Sanders adviser from the 2016 campaign, said of the establishment on Friday on Fox & Friends. She said Sanders would “go all the way to the convention,” and added, “It’s going to be a long season, so they can just buckle up.”
To be sure, a lot of things can change between now and the convention, but barring anything drastic or unforeseen, Sanders will almost assuredly be a significant part of the conversation at that point in time and could conceivably even be on the verge of accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination.