With Voters 'Feeling the Bern,' Support for Sanders Gains Momentum

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With Voters 'Feeling the Bern,' Support for Sanders Gains Momentum

'It's the first time in my entire life I've ever been excited about a political campaign.'

Supporters hold signs as Bernie Sanders speaks at the Iowa State Fair.  (Photo: Phil Roeder/flickr/cc)

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders seems to be inspiring more and more voters to "feel the Bern."

Though Hillary Clinton is still the leading Democratic candidate, support for Sanders is on the rise, a new CNN/ORC poll (pdf) shows. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, Clinton leads Sanders 47 percent to 29 percent.

But comparing the results to the previous two CNN/ORC polls, Clinton is experiencing a downward trend while Sanders' trend is upward. Clinton is down nine points since the July poll, and down 11 points since the June poll. Sanders, in contrast, is up 10 points since the July poll when he had the support of 19 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters. The June poll showed support for his campaign at just 15 percent.

The latest national poll comes on the heels of more signs of continued support for the Vermont senator. After day 6 of an informal poll by the Secretary of State of Iowa State Fair attendees,  it was a tight race between the two, with Sanders at 46 percent to Clinton's 48 percent.

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Speaking at the Des Moines Register Soapbox at the fair, Sanders said, "I welcome and urge all of you to join me in helping to make a political revolution, which transforms America, which creates a government that works for all of us, and not just a handful."

The Sanders campaign has garnered attention for massive turnouts at events. Politico reporter Ben Schreckinger takes a look at this "Summer of Sanders," writing that his campaign "has raced to channel the enthusiasm of a largely self-organizing movement into massive, attention-grabbing rallies." For the turnouts—which surpass even those of Barack Obama's in 2007—Schreckinger writes that it's "left to Sanders’ largely self-organized grassroots support to deliver the crowds."

Schreckinger continues:

Billy Howard, a Sanders supporter who ran RENObama, the local grassroots group supporting Barack Obama’s first presidential bid, said he was surprised at the extent to which Sanders supporters in Nevada have organized themselves. [...]

He said that the pool of people who have taken it upon themselves to organize locally for Sanders in this nationally significant swing county is much larger than the one he saw organizing for Obama in 2007.

Katherine Esposito, who paid $50 to attend a Sanders event Monay in Chicago, told The Reader, "It's the first time in my entire life I've ever been excited about a political campaign."

"I liked Obama, but he didn't really grab me like this. I'm pumped," Esposito said.

Reader reporter Ryan Smith concludes that

the question remains whether the presidential campaign equivalent of an underground punk-rock show can actually compete on the big stage of American politics with the exceedingly well-funded likes of Hillary Clinton and all the billionaire-backed Republican candidates. Just ask the man who introduced Sanders, Chuy Garcia, who fell way short in his own grassroots efforts to unseat Rahm Emanuel as Chicago's mayor.

Even Sanders seemed to acknowledge the extreme uphill challenge he faced, saying that what the country needed is a "political revolution." Could this unlikely avowed socialist somehow be the one to help lead us there?

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