Bernie Sanders is doing well in national polls for the Democratic presidential nomination following the Wednesday, debate but challenges remain.
According to fivethirtyeight.com, Sanders is at the top of most, if not all, national polls for the Democratic presidential primary.
“He came out of last night’s debate with that status unscathed,” said Congressman Peter Welch in an interview on Thursday.
Welch, a Democrat, said the addition of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the race, and to the debate scene, likely have helped Sanders.
“Part of it was the focus of the other candidates was on Bloomberg, not Bernie,” he said.
Welch said he expects Sanders to do well in the Nevada primary, but there’s more race left to run.
Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren seem to be taking the progressive lanes in the race, with the other candidates following a more moderate track.
Sanders, who ran in 2016, has some advantages this time that he didn’t before, said Welch.
“The benefit of experience is enormous,” said Welch, adding that Sanders has had time to build a campaign infrastructure and reach out to minority voters.
Regardless of what each candidate’s positions are, Welch said weighing heavily in any Democrat voter’s mind is which candidate is most likely to defeat President Donald Trump.
Eric Davis, professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College, said worries over who can beat the president may hinder Sanders in the end.
Davis said he doesn’t believe any single Democratic candidate can get enough delegate votes to take the nomination in the first round.
He believes Sanders will get about 40%, but during the second, and any subsequent rounds, so-called superdelegates will be allowed to vote, those being governors and high-ranking politicians and the like.
That group will be worried about Sanders’ appeal to non-coastal voters, plus the negative rhetoric the Trump campaign could, and would, unleash should Sanders be the nominee.
Daniel Barlow, executive director for Business for Medicare for All, a new nonpartisan group advocating for health care reform, said Thursday that while Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Democratic nomination, it seemed that the Democratic National Convention gave her campaign help.
He said it would be a mistake for the party to support a nominee that didn’t have the most votes.
Barlow said his group doesn’t endorse candidates, but said part of why Sanders is popular among voters is because of his views on health care reform. Barlow said the health care system keeps getting worse, to the point where people are being bankrupted by illness.
A dislike of the president may be fueling Sanders’ appeal, according to Vermont’s other senator, Patrick Leahy.
“Polls at this very early stage in the process are fleeting snapshots, but they can suggest trends, and the trend right now for Bernie is a good one,” Leahy said by email Thursday.
“I believe that Bernie is doing well in the polls in part because Americans realize that Donald Trump is not only the worst president in our history, but also the most dangerous.”
He said Sanders’ campaign has focused on issues people are concerned with, namely health care, income inequality, climate change and immigration, but his campaign is working well, too.
“He’s also better organized and better funded in the early states in the primary system than some of the other candidates have been,” Leahy wrote.