With the Iowa Democratic caucus less than a week away and primaries in New Hampshire and Nevada following fast after that, several of the latest polls indicate that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has a strong chance to come out on top in all three states.
Assuming that Sanders’ day had passed and that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren had become the new champion of the party’s left wing, the Democratic Party establishment seems not to have contemplated the possibility that the self-described socialist who was Hillary Clinton’s most potent rival during the nomination fight four years ago might actually come out on top this time around.
That genuine possibility is now staring them in the face. Sanders draws the biggest crowds, has the most committed supporters and has particular advantages in the first three states. Meanwhile, the establishment favorite, former Vice President Joe Biden, though still first or second in most polls, is experiencing an enthusiasm gap. His crowds are often scant, and his support is soft. Biden has a huge advantage in the fourth contest, the South Carolina primary, but would a win there be enough to stop Sanders if Sanders has three victories to Biden’s one?
Trump campaign operatives are reported to be debating what it would mean to run against Sanders as the Democrats’ nominee. Some would be gleeful, eager to hammer Sanders with scary socialist scenarios. But others are seriously worried that Sanders would cut into the president’s support among white working-class voters.
Democratic leaders are pondering exactly the same two scenarios. Would Sanders be their worst possible candidate or their best? No one knows, but there is a distinct possibility we all may find out.
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