Self-declared “democratic socialist” presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has emerged as the front-runner in the Democratic field following strong showings in both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.
That front-runner status is further bolstered by the fact that he holds a dominating lead in the polls in upcoming caucus and primary states like Nevada and California and has likewise surged to either first or second place in most of the national polls.
Unfortunately for Sanders, however, a recent poll from NBC and The Wall Street Journal revealed three major factors that could potentially undermine his currently promising candidacy, the most significant of which is his self-appointed label of being a “socialist,” with the other two being his age and health.
The pollsters queried approximately 900 registered voters, slightly less than half of whom were Democratic primary voter participants. The poll’s margin of error was 3.27 percent.
One section of the survey dealt with a variety of traits and whether respondents were comfortable with the party’s nominee possessing those traits.
On the question of a candidate with the label of “socialist,” 67 percent of registered voters said they either “have some reservations” (21 percent) or were “very uncomfortable” (46 percent) with that person being the nominee.
As for a candidate being over the age of 75, a total of 53 percent — 39 percent who said they “have some reservations” plus 14 percent who said they were “very uncomfortable” — expressed their concerns, while on the question of a candidate who’d recently had a heart attack, that was a concern among a combined 57 percent of registered voters.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sanders and the socialism question fared a little better among just Democratic primary voters, but the label was still an issue of concern for members of a party that has drifted left, as 42 percent of Democratic voters said they have a problem with Sanders’ self-proclaimed status as a socialist.
But the recent heart attack issue appeared to be a greater cause for concern among Democratic primary voters than the socialist label, as 47 percent (40 percent with “reservations” and 7 percent “very uncomfortable”) suggested that health issues could be a problem for a prospective nominee.
There was other not-so-great news for Sanders in that poll as well.
On the question of how President Donald Trump is handling the economy, 53 percent of registered voters approved. Only 38 percent disapproved, one of the lowest marks in the poll’s history.
Of course, there was good news for Sanders, too, namely the fact that he was by far the most popular of the Democratic presidential candidates, earning both the first and second choice of the majority of respondents.
Among voters who said they would participate in a Democratic caucus or primary election, Sanders was the first choice of 27 percent of those polled, giving him a substantial lead over former Vice President Joe Biden in second place with 15 percent.
Likewise, when respondents were asked for their second choice among the field of candidates, Sanders again came out ahead with 19 percent, this time beating Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Furthermore, Sanders was the clear leader among all other Democratic candidates in terms of voter enthusiasm, with 32 percent saying they were “enthusiastic” about his candidacy.
Those numbers dropped off somewhat among all registered voters with Trump thrown in the mix, as the president earned a combined 43 percent (27 percent “enthusiastic” plus 16 percent “comfortable”) compared to Sanders’ 38 percent (16 percent enthusiastic plus 22 percent comfortable).
If there is one clear takeaway from this poll for Trump — who, by the way, tied his highest approval rating in the poll’s history with 47 percent — it is that if he ends up matched up against Sanders, he should key in on the Vermont senator’s self-professed socialism and focus on how his socialist policy proposals will fundamentally destroy the nation’s economy and undermine our rights.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.