The growing momentum surrounding the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign took another step forward over the weekend. In a display of strength, Sanders got 41% of support in the Wisconsin Democratic Party straw poll to 49% for Hillary Clinton.
Rick Klein of ABC News reported, “Straw polls don’t count for anything, and second place is, well, second place. But how many of these before it will become something? Hillary Clinton captured 49 percent of the vote at the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s convention over the weekend, in a straw poll conducted by WisPolitics.com. The story, though, was second place: Bernie Sanders got 41 percent, just eight points behind Clinton and far ahead of his low-single-digits rivals. It’s the latest sign that Sanders is poised to inherit at least a solid portion of the Ready-for-Warren energy. And it speaks to a longstanding contention that if Clinton is vulnerable, it’s on her left.”
Straw polls are only measures of support by those in attendance. They are not representative samples, so it would be inaccurate to suggest that the result in Wisconsin will translate to the broader electorate. The attendees at events like the state Democratic convention are the dedicated activists. These people are most likely to be drawn to the grassroots activist campaign of Sen. Sanders.
Forner Sec. of State Clinton has tried to reach out to the activist left, but the popularity of Bernie Sanders demonstrates that she still has a lot of work to do in this area. The anti-Hillary activists on the left are galvanizing around Sanders. This is bad news for Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chaffee. O’Malley seems to have been caught completely by surprise by Sanders’ popularity. In a field where there is room for one challenger to Hillary Clinton, O’Malley’s candidacy appears to be redundant and unnecessary.
The segment of the left that thinks Hillary Clinton is too moderate is flocking to Bernie Sanders. As has been shown in previous elections, the activist left is a very small portion of the Democratic Party. The vast majority of Democrats are Obama/Clinton Democrats, but what can’t be denied is that there is real momentum behind the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.
Straw polls are meaningless, but the results in Wisconsin do suggest that the support for Bernie Sanders is very real and that Democrats could be treated to a real primary campaign focused on the issues.