DES MOINES, IA – With just over a week until the Iowa democratic caucus, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who’s nOt EvEn A rEaL dEmOcRaT, has surged 6 points to 25% in the latest NYT/Siena poll, ahead of real democrats Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden.
While polling data suggest that Sanders, who signed a democratic party loyalty pledge last March, is drawing support from a broad coalition that includes traditional democrats, independents, youth, women, people of color, first time voters, and voters who’ve become disillusioned with the two-party system, democratic party leaders hoping to broaden the party’s appeal are growing increasingly frustrated with Sanders’s rise.
According to speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi, the democratic party performs best when real democrats are on the ticket, saying “we are strongest when we stick together, and if we want to defeat Trump in November, which is our top priority, it’s going to take a real democrat like a Hillary Clinton, a John Kerry, or an Al Gore who can motivate the base while appealing to moderate republicans.”
Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez commented on Sanders’s recent rise, saying “when we lead with our values, we win, and to win, we need a real democrat like Elizabeth Warren who was a republican until 1996 or Mike Bloomberg who was a democrat, and then a republican, then an independent, and then last year became a real democrat.”
Election experts note that if Sanders were to run as an independent, he’d likely attract enough support to make him a viable 3rd party contender as was the case in 1992 when businessman Ross Perot ran an insurgent campaign against Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. Perot peeled off enough support from the republican to allow Clinton to win the presidency. Sanders, who caucuses with senate democrats, would likely pull away enough democratic voters to ensure Trump’s reelection.
While head-to-head polling shows Sanders performing best against Trump, democratic party insiders worry that a Sanders candidacy would shift the party too far to the left to win, including Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden who said “it’s important to understand that Bernie’s nOt eVeN A rEaL dEmOcRaT. If he wants to run, let him run as an independent or green party or whatever so we can smear him incessantly for the rest of his life like Jill Stein or Ralph Nader when we inevitably lose the election by running a real democrat like Joe Biden.”