Having closed an immense 31 point gap with presumed shoe-in Hillary Clinton since the beginning of the campaign, Bernie Sanders is showing a surprising surge this early in the race.
Not only has he pulled within a gnat’s eyelash of Hillary Clinton, according to the most recent Quinnipiac University poll, in a general election Sanders would defeat the two leading Republican contenders in the campaign, Senator Ted Cruz and billionaire Donald Trump – Trump by an astounding double digits!
Conservative readers will cringe at the thought and bellow denial. But key data tells the story. And that same key data contains the answer for a strategy to reverse that potential result. After all, there are still nine months until the election.
First, on the national Democrat slate, Sanders has come from near oblivion to now trail Clinton 44% to 42%, with 11% undecided. And he has momentum, even more so with his surprising showing in Iowa.
The assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, Tim Malloy, said, “Democrats nationwide are feeling the Bern as Senator Bernie Sanders closes a 31-point gap to tie Secretary Hillary Clinton.”
Next, among Republicans, despite the Iowa setback Trump is way ahead of his GOP competitors. But the story gets much more interesting when one-on-one face-offs are considered.
American voters responded to the following general election match-ups with these votes:
- Clinton tops Trump 46 – 41 percent;
- Clinton ties Cruz 45 – 45 percent;
- Clinton trails Rubio 48 – 41 percent;
- Sanders thumps Trump 49 – 39 percent;
- Sanders edges Cruz 46 – 42 percent;
- Sanders and Rubio are tied 43 – 43 percent.
(If Bloomberg runs as a third party candidate in some contests, results are:
Sanders at 35 percent, with Trump at 36 percent and Bloomberg at 15 percent;
Sanders at 37 percent, with Cruz at 36 percent and Bloomberg at 15 percent. )
The biggest hindrance for both Trump and Cruz, especially when matched against Sanders, is their negativity ratings. Quinnipiac’s Malloy said, “While Trump, Clinton and Cruz wallow in a negative favorability swamp, by comparison, Rubio and Sanders are rock stars.”
Among Republicans, 30% say they “would definitely not support” Trump, while 15% say the would not support Cruz and 7% say ‘no’ to Rubio.
Contrarily, Bernie Sanders has the highest favorability ratings among all the top candidates.
The respective favorability ratings for all the candidates are:
- Positive 44 – 35 percent for Sanders;
- Negative 39 – 56 percent for Clinton;
- Negative 34 – 59 percent for Trump;
- Negative 36 – 42 percent for Cruz;
- Positive 42 – 28 percent for Rubio.
As vigorous as the supporters for Trump or Cruz are, their candidates generate every bit as much a vehement reaction on the negative side.
For either Cruz or Trump to improve their prospects for success, they would significantly improve their chances by reducing the negative perceptions of them. Whether either of them can pull that off without appearing phony or disingenuous or to be capitulating would be their challenge.
To not do so could cost the election.
From February 2 – 4, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,125 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones. The survey includes 507 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points and 484 Democrats with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points.
The entire poll is available here.