The momentum behind the Bernie Sanders campaign for president is spreading from New Hampshire to South Carolina as interest was so high in Sanders’ message that the campaign was forced to move his upcoming speech in Charleston to a larger venue.
Over the weekend, the state chapter of the AFL-CIO labor union group jumped the gun and effectively backed his candidacy before being forced to walk its message back. Last night, on the eve of Clinton’s arrival, Sanders’ campaign said it had to change the venue for his upcoming swing through Charleston due to overwhelming local interest. That announcement — which pointedly noted that the new venue is a high school gym located on President Street — came just hours before Clinton was set to unveil a new plan to combat youth unemployment through tax credits for businesses who hire apprentices.
The former secretary of state continues to maintain a commanding lead over the Vermont senator in most national and early state polling — including in South Carolina, where Sanders has no permanent staff. But the liberal challenger has been creeping toward her in New Hampshire polls and the energy and overflow crowds of his recent early state events are attracting notice.
The Sanders campaign has a very good problem. Support for their candidate is much higher than expected, so they have to accommodate bigger crowds. Recent polling in New Hampshire has finally convinced many in the media that the support for Sen. Sanders is real. There is an energy among Sanders supporters is very real, and it is pushing the Clinton campaign in the exact way that many hoped it would.
There is a pent-up desire for an authentic grassroots movement in response to the Great Recession. The desire to reclaim a country that is under threat from corporations and billionaires with a political agenda is palpable. Bernie Sanders spent parts of the last few years going to states like South Carolina and speaking to Democrats and progressives who are too often neglected and lumped in with their Republican rulers. Sen. Sanders has been working the grassroots of America’s discontent for a long time, and his efforts are paying off.
The Sanders movement isn’t so much about rejecting Hillary Clinton as it is a response to income inequality, real unemployment, Wall Street, Citizens United and political influence of a handful of conservative billionaires. The basic issues that Sanders talks about on the campaign trail resonate with voters in every state red or blue across this country.
Bernie Sanders is saying out loud what millions of Americans have been waiting years to hear. It’s no surprise that so many people would be interested in his message, but this is just the beginning. The Sanders campaign needs to start thinking about reserving many more bigger venues because the momentum looks to be just getting started.