Bernie Sanders officially launched his presidential campaign today, making the Vermont Senator the first to challenge frontrunning nominee Hillary Clinton. Other Democratic candidates such as Martin O’Malley are expected to join the race, but Sanders’s early entry has given him a more high-profile platform to inform voters as to his views on key issues. Although Clinton’s campaign has already focused on appealing to the increasing populist views of the Democratic Party, Sanders’s European-Socialist outlook and voting history has been undeniably more liberal-leaning.
According to the most recent Real Clear Politics poll, however, Sanders has a tough campaign trail ahead of him. The poll puts Clinton as the clear frontrunner in the primary race, with 64.2 percent of the voting populace supporting her. Sanders has only 7.4 percent. Even worse, Sanders is behind both Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vice President Joe Biden (with 12.5 and 9.8 percent of the votes, respectively).
Warren has quickly become one of the most intriguing politicians in Washington. She’s a progressive populist, speaking out against the flaws of Wall Street and striving for economic reform. She’s caused a rift of sorts in the Democratic Party, opposing Obama on issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She also has a massive fan base, many of whom have been begging her to run for president in 2016. There’s even a Super PAC that was formed in her name, despite her repeated insistence that she’s committed to the Senate and has no interest in pursuing the White House.
Since Warren is not running, the candidates currently in the race will undoubtedly attempt to secure the votes that she would have obtained. If the current projections are correct, securing the votes that would otherwise belong to Warren won’t do much for either Clinton or Sanders. Even if Sanders manages to win over Warren’s supporters, he’ll still need a highly successful campaign in order to defeat Clinton. It’s still early in the campaign process, however, and the popularity of brash candidates seeking bold reform should not be underestimated.
Although Sanders’s progressive platform seems like it would make him the logical replacement for Warren supporters, there are key differences between the two Senators that might dissuade voters. Sanders, for one, is an independent. He describes himself as a socialist. Warren is a Democrat, and her views and leadership on economic inequality have attracted her a massive cult following in a relatively short time span. As the Daily Beast reports, Sanders is an old white man that has been in politics for years. He’s well-loved at home in Vermont, but he’s yet to gain traction as quickly and naturally as Warren has. While Warren has made income inequality a central issue, Sanders is also fighting for free college tuition, universal pre-K, health care reform and several other issues.
For those who support the Occupy movement, Warren and other attempts to re-balance the country’s economic inequality, Sanders is a much more likeable candidate than Clinton. “The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue off our time. And we will address it,” Sanders said, according to Vox. Clinton’s campaign has made similar statements, but voters have a difficult time seeing past her personal history of wealth and political power. Sanders, in fact, is fighting against the oligarchy that politicians like Clinton have helped create. It's likely that he'll be the candidate to win over Warren's supporters, but he'll have a much harder fight if he hopes to bring his progressive politics to the White House.
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