Bernie Sanders

Are We Witnessing a Bernie Sanders 'Surge'?



Recent polls have shown Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a nominal independent who caucuses with Democrats and is running for the Democratic nomination for president, doing relatively well for a candidate not named Clinton. In Iowa, where the first caucuses of the primary season are held, Sanders hit 32 percent in a recent poll, compared to Hillary Clinton's 52 percent. In May, he was at 15 percent and Clinton at 60 percent. In New Hampshire, where the first primary of the primary season is held, Sanders is even closer, polling 35 percent in a CNN poll, with Clinton at 42 percent.  A recent Sanders campaign event in Wisconsin drew a crowd of 10,000, described by the campaign as the largest campaign event by any presidential candidate this election cycle. (N.B.: On social media, Donald Trump describes the crowds at many of the campaign events he and his familial surrogate participate in "record-breaking").

But not everyone is convinced there's a real surge going on for the firebrand socialist. At The Hill, Eddie Zipperer calls the whole thing a "hoax":

the polls tell the story of a reality in stark contrast to the progressive opinion-writing zeitgeist. There is no surge. There is no overtaking Clinton.

In the most recent Fox News poll (note to those who are anti-Fox: Fox News polls are conducted by an independent, bipartisan organization), Sanders is second at 15 percent. Up 4 points since the May 31 to June 2 poll. That's a nice little jump. Guess who else jumped 4 points since that poll? Clinton. Except her jump was from 57 percent to 61 percent. So Sanders's 4-point jump did not come at Clinton's expense, from voters jettisoning themselves from a sinking ship.

Sanders's 4-point jump came from Elizabeth Warren voters. Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) was at 7 percent in the May 31 to June 2 poll, but she was not included at all in the most recent poll. Those 7 percent of Democratic voters didn't decide to unregister and forgo voting; they simply chose a new candidate.

National polling on primary candidates, especially this early on, is next to worthless, as Stephanie Slade explained in the July issue of Reason.

Zipperer also points to New Hampshire polling: while just 7 percent behind Clinton in the CNN poll, a Bloomberg poll found Sanders 24 points behind Clinton. Zipperer notes Vice President Joe Biden was included in the CNN poll but not the Bloomberg poll, writing that "if Sanders is to have any real chance at all, it rests largely on Biden's decision" to run or not. Biden is the last of the major Democrats believed to be considering a run who hasn't announced yet. Clinton is at 60 percent in RealClearPolitics' average of polls, with Biden second at 13.5 percent and Sanders in third at 12.7.