Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to gain on Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Photo: iprimages/flickr/cc)

As Momentum Continues, Bernie Sanders Shedding Dark Horse Status

'Sanders has captured the imagination and support of people looking for a real progressive challenger in the 2016 Democratic primary.'

Nadia Prupis

Bernie Sanders has had a good day.

In the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the senator's campaign has been steadily advancing on current frontrunner Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination—and, as several media outlets noted on Friday, his challenge is becoming impossible for her campaign to ignore.

Beyond the overflow crowds that show up to his rallies and the growing support in voter polls, it is Sanders' very status as a dark horse that makes him "uniquely positioned" to do well in the primaries, The Hill's Jonathan Easley explained on Friday.

Easley continued:

One of the problems that the Sanders surge poses for Clinton is that Democrats say there’s a risk in taking him head on.

Doing so could rally his supporters, alienate liberals the Democratic nominee will need in the fall of 2016 and elevate Sanders as a challenger.

... Meanwhile, Sanders has begun sharpening his attacks against Clinton — and she has started to move toward Sanders on at least one issue.

The senator from Vermont also has something of a hometown advantage in the New Hampshire primaries, Easley said, quoting Democratic strategist Ben Bannon that "[a] victory in New Hampshire would scare the hell out of the Clinton people."


We Interrupt This Article with an Urgent Message!

Common Dreams is a not-for-profit news service. All of our content is free to you - no subscriptions; no ads. We are funded by donations from our readers.

Our critical Mid-Year fundraiser is going very slowly - only 779 readers have contributed so far. We must meet our goal before we can end this fundraising campaign and get back to focusing on what we do best.
If you support Common Dreams and you want us to survive, we need you now.
Please make a tax-deductible gift to our Mid-Year Fundraiser now!

Sanders' biggest challenge will be expanding his base to garner more diversity among his supporters, who are currently mostly young and male, Easley said.

And he may get them. On Friday, the grassroots political initiative Ready to Fight—borne from the now-dormant Ready for Warren campaign—officially endorsed Sanders as its candidate for president. Its founders, Erica Sagrans and Charles Lenchner, wrote in an op-ed for CNN that Sanders' progressive values make him a good fit for those who would have backed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had she chosen to run.

"Sanders has captured the imagination and support of people looking for a real progressive challenger in the 2016 Democratic primary," Sagrans and Lenchner wrote.

The day's final boon came from an in-depth profile of Sanders at the Guardian, where the newspaper's Washington correspondent Paul Lewis described the senator as "unafraid of punching above his weight."

Lewis continued:

Never has that been more the case than now. Six weeks into his campaign, Sanders has gained the kind of momentum few expected from the Vermont senator, establishing himself as the primary obstacle between Hillary Clinton and the Democratic ticket for the White House.

In just the latest example of his rising standing among Democrats, a Suffolk University poll released on Tuesday showed the Vermont senator receiving 31% of support among New Hampshire primary voters – just 10 points behind Clinton.

It is a stunning endorsement of Sanders, who has been beating the same drum, mostly in vain, for close to half a century. Now, in the twilight of his career – and very possibly at its pinnacle – the reverberations are starting to be heard.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

As Progressives Eye Potential 'Jolt of Momentum,' Nina Turner Nabs Women's March Endorsement

"This isn't about Nina versus any opponent; this is about the people versus big money."

Andrea Germanos ·

Unless Congress Acts, 20 Million People Will Lose Unemployment Aid in Just 41 Days: Analysis

"Democrats should do whatever it takes to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring."

Jake Johnson ·

'Vile': Biden DHS to Turn Away Migrant Families Under 'Expedited Removal' Policy

"This administration continues to seek efficiency over safety and due process for migrant families."

Julia Conley ·

WATCH LIVE: House Panel Holds First Hearing on January 6 Insurrection

"Over six months later now, it's past time for the public to receive answers on the insurrection, and for those who stoked it to be held to account."

Common Dreams staff ·

Jesse Jackson, William Barber Among Dozens Arrested While Demanding Filibuster Repeal Outside Sinema's Office

"We've got to get these shackles off of our democracy," said Rev. William Barber.

Kenny Stancil ·