Polling Shows Bernie Sanders Is Electable, And Possibly A Stronger Candidate Than Clinton

Bernie Sanders

During the 2008 primary battles, Hillary Clinton argued that she should be the Democratic nominee because Barack Obama was not electable and she was. We saw how that turned out. This year Clinton supporters are trying the same strategy, claiming Bernie Sanders is not electable. As Matt Taibbi discussed in Rolling Stone, the media has also been complicit in spreading this false narrative, often failing to take Sanders seriously as a candidate.

Polling data has consistently shown that the argument that Sanders is unelectable is false, and further data this week also demonstrates that he is electable.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows Clinton and Ben Carson tied, with Clinton beating the other Republican candidates she was matched with.The tie with Carson was largely due to greater support for Carson among independents. They did not poll a head to head race between Carson and Sanders but did find that when polled Sanders did slightly better than Clinton against other Republicans:

Sanders leads Trump by nine points, 50 percent to 41 percent (versus Clinton’s eight-point advantage), and he’s ahead of Rubio by five points, 46 percent to 41 percent (versus Clinton’s three-point lead).

Another poll this week, a Quinnipiac University survey, also showed Sanders and Clinton do comparable against Republicans.

National polls such as this long before an election have limited meaning, but seeing Sanders consistently doing as well as or better than Clinton against Republicans does suggest that there is no truth to the argument that Clinton is more electable.

There are additional reasons to speculate that Sanders can do better than Clinton a year from now. Sanders is much less well known and on an upward trajectory while Clinton is already well known and has far less upside potential.Clinton had been on a downward trajectory until some fortuitous events for her in October. She came out of the first Democratic debate looking strong, but this was largely because she was more skillful at dodging questions and her opponents barely confronted her for poor answers. Republicans will not let her off the hook so easily, and hopefully Sanders and O’Malley will confront her more in subsequent debates.

Clinton does poorly in the battleground state polls and among independents, while Sanders has shown greater potential among these voters.Clinton has stronger support among partisan Democrats, giving her the edge for the nomination, but it will not help her to run up large margins of victory in deep blue states if she cannot win the battleground states in a general election.

Sanders is not involved in a major scandal, but there is danger for a further drop in support for Clinton as more voters become aware of the specifics of the scandals. While Democrats do not seem to be dissuaded by the scandals, polling has shown that independent voters are concerned, and have an unfavorable view of Clinton. Republicans will probably make considerable use out of the scandals in a general election campaign.

Elections often come down to turn out, and Sanders is showing far greater ability to get people to turn out to his events. Hopefully this enthusiasm for him will extend to turning out to vote. On the other hand, many voters are likely to stay home instead of turning out for a candidate which a majority considers to be dishonest and they have an unfavorable view of.

[Due to technical glitches involving links to the post, it was necessary to post this twice]


  1. 1
    Peter Dybing says:

    Hillary’s Electability Problem

    While the companies spar with each other about political issues of the day it may be political history that has the most impact on the current Democratic nomination process. In a strange twist on electoral politics it will be the history of the Republican Party over the past 20 years that will defeat any hope of a Clinton Presidency

    .In the first months of the Bill Clinton presidency the extreme right reacted to Hillary being involved in health care reform with a vicious barrage of attacks on her character. For nearly two decades she has represented all that conservatives hate in liberal politics.

    Anyone with any political insight knows that the false narratives from Fox news and other extreme conservative sites have profoundly affected the political landscape of American politics. Their attacks, no matter their lack of factual basis, have convinced a large portion of the population that HRC is a political non- starter.

    The modern electorate is dominated by the influence of the independent center. Every political insider understands that independents are the key to victory. The sad truth is that Clinton has little or no hope of earning the votes of independents due to the decades long unethical assaults on her character.This situation exists outside of the political debates of the day, has nothing to do with her qualifications for the office, and yet profoundly affects any chance of democratic control of the White House. Democrats must seek another candidate if they expect to elect a new President in 2016

  2. 2
    Nurse Michael says:

    The best the DNC can hope for with a Hillary candidacy is a repeat of 2012, and likely a bit worse. That means no way to push the agenda she says she supports. Bernie has the potential to win in a landslide. If at least some of the Democratic establishment gets behind him once he's the nominee, because they have to, the turnout will be larger than the Obama 08' turnout, with more independent and crossover support, meaning a real opportunity to push through his progressive agenda.

  3. 3
    Leila Deurell says:

    and we are, we are electing Senator Bernie Sanders!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. 4
    Bill Paul says:

    Sanders true support is not accurately measurable in the polls. 

    Over the past two years I have read several articles of polling experts worrying about the accuracy of polls today, as more and more young people use only cell phones, and a high percentage of them do not answer their phones to incoming numbers they do not recognize. Try borrowing a friends phone and calling anyone you know between 18 and 40. 
    With Sanders support so high with voters under 40, there is no possible way to know how high his true support is from present polling methods. 

  5. 5
    Craig says:

    I'm still wondering why they haven't polled Bernie vs. Carson yet. 

  6. 6
    Kevin R says:

    Clinton has money and the Beltway establishment on her side. Her positions seem driven my polls not principles and her most visible supporters seem to be the big money  donors and party hacks that expect to gain from a Clinton presidency. Bernie, by contrast has a growing swell of grassroots support, enthusiastic voters, and most importantly, a clear and consistent message about who he is, what he stands for, and what this country's priorities should be. A Bernie candidacy would deliver a high voter turnout for Dems and could even garner support from some Rebulicans. A Hillary candidacy would have Dems holding their noses and voting for her as the lesser of two evils.  Any Republican who runs will draw voters simply by demonizing Hillary, a strategy that has consistently worked due to her many negatives, her endless flip flopping, and the general "meh" factor that describes public reaction to Hillary 

  7. 7
    Aura Almanr says:

    i as one of the ready for Hillary people, yet no longer follow her, she's gotten a lot of money from Wall Street and the banks, but what really killed it (no pun intended) was her declaration that she favors the death penalty.

    To me the death penalty is murder.  Most of those are people of color, many proven innocent after they are killed.  I'd rather have a guilty person live than an innocent die.

    So, money from bankers, death penalty for the poor, it is a matter of economic class, it doesn't sound like much would change. 

    I believe Sanders would make a much better president.

  8. 8
    sylvia butler says:

    I liked all the way back in the 60's. He not flamboyant and I feel he generally. I think he is revolutionary and ready  to take on the big guys. i think as a president he will get more recognition from the GOP , because he don't mind sitting right in the middle of them.  I don't understand why he is not getting more of the black vote! I wish I knew how to help!

  9. 9
    Alasandro says:

    Oh… he will get the black vote. I just happen to be African American and I can tell you that my interactions with other Black people regarding the next president has been Bernie all the way. Don't believe the hype. The media believes if it keeps telling people that Bernie isn't getting the black vote that black people won't vote for him. Now that some black leaders who are respected in the black community have come forward to support Bernie Sanders things are changing fast. Cornell West, Tavis Smiley, etc… and if you believe that the majority of black people really trust or give a damn what people like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton think I am happy to inform you that we don't.

Leave a comment