Sanders Soars

The latest NBC/WSJ poll, conducted Sept. 20-24, has Hillary Clinton only slightly ahead of Bernie Sanders in the national sample of registered Democratic voters. Clinton polls at 42 percent, Sanders at 35 percent and Joe Biden at 17 percent. With Sanders a bare seven points behind the former secretary of state, her candidacy is in a state of grave peril.

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The polling comes as her policy proposals are getting drowned out by the revelation of her evasions, half-truths and outright lies on her handling of emails during her State Department tenure. Dissatisfaction with Clinton’s candidacy has been growing but now it appears to be coalescing around Sanders’ leftist candidacy.

The political result of this polling is devastating for Clinton. It means that Biden has to enter the race, whether he’s ready or not. With an imminent threat of Sanders’ winning the Democratic nomination, leading to a total wipeout of party candidates in 2016, the pressure on Biden to run will become irresistible. Democrats, led by President Obama, will hound him.

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The other result of this shocking poll is that Sanders can actually win. His ideology has struck a chord with liberal Democrats. Once this genie is out of the bottle, it is highly questionable whether or not it could be put back in. It may be that the forces of an ultra-liberal agenda — anti-free trade, $15 minimum wage, a 90 percent top tax bracket, and raising social security taxes to finance lowering the retirement age and raising benefits — is unstoppable.

The Republican right-wing has long ghettoized the Republican Party, forcing it into inflexible positions on social issues. Now it appears that animosity to Clinton has unleashed a similar tornado among Democratic voters, moving them inexorably to the left and out of the national mainstream.

Now, even if Biden runs, it may not be enough to hold back the Sanders surge. A new force is threatening the long tame Democratic electorate. To find a similar revolution in Democratic ranks, one needs to go back to the New Left days of Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern. This wholesale rejection is a serious threat to the Democratic party establishment.

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