Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Sanders Confounds Skeptics
By Reginald Johnson
That was a very impressive showing by Bernie Sanders in Iowa.
A man who just six months ago was thought to have little or no chance of winning Iowa against the much better known establishment candidate Hillary Clinton, came within an eyelash of pulling off the upset. Sanders finished with 49.5 percent of the vote, to Clinton's 49.9 percent.
While Clinton technically won the caucus in Iowa, Sanders also won, in that he proved he is very much a viable candidate to win the Democratic Party nomination and that his message of bringing fundamental change to the American economy is resonating with thousands of voters, young and old, men and women.
He moves on to New Hampshire, where he is way ahead in the polls. If the Vermont senator scores a resounding victory there, he may well have the momentum to go to South Carolina and again, do much better than expected in that state's primary. Given that many in South Carolina's large African-American population favor Clinton, this will be a challenge for Sanders. But he's shown already he has the ability to win people over with his message about economic equality, and I think he can start gaining support among black voters in the South.
When Bernie Sanders first announced his candidacy for president in April of last year, he stood at only 3 percent nationally among Democrats who said they would for him. Today, his level of support has shot up to over 36 percent.
In Iowa, the Democratic Socialist started his campaign a full 40 points behind Hillary Clinton in the polls. But with a relentless campaign in which he repeatedly drew huge crowds, Sanders completely closed the gap, and finished in a "virtual tie" as he called it, in the state's caucus.
When Sanders began his national campaign for president --- amid widespread doubt that he could make any headway at all --- he cautioned, "don't underestimate me."
I don't think anyone is underestimating Bernie Sanders now.