Though the announcement of TIME magazine's 'Person of the Year' designation isn't until next month, it was reported on Monday that the leading contender—at least among the magazine's readership—is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Democratic presidential candidate calling for a 'political revolution' with his grassroots-driven campaign against establishment candidate Hillary Clinton.
According to the magazine:
The self-described democratic socialist currently leads Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist, with 11% in the TIME reader poll compared with her 5%. Sanders also leads Pope Francis and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama, and is far ahead of entertainers like Adele (2%) and Jennifer Lawrence (1.7%). In voter polls against Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Sanders is consistently losing by about 20 percentage points in national polls. In the Person of the Year poll, Hillary Clinton has earned 1.3 % of the vote, trailing the likes of Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande as well as Nicki Minaj and Amy Schumer.
Explaining the phenomenon of his surging popularity, TIME said Sanders "has become a hero on the Democratic left among progressives disillusioned by growing income inequality and money in politics." Though still trailing Clinton, Sanders has been attracting record-sized crowds nationwide and is polling well in the key early states of both Iowa and New Hampshire as he "casts a long shadow over the Democratic primary with his ability to introduce a progressive wish-list including breaking up the big banks, instituting public financing of elections, socialistic single-payer healthcare system and tuition free college at public institutions."
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Among other people who Sanders is leaving in the popularity-contest dust is current GOP frontrunner and billionaire entertainer Donald Trump. Though latest political polls have also showed that Sanders would easily beat Trump in a general election, TIME noted that Sanders substantial lead over Trump in their online survey was additionally ironic given how the controversial Republican firebrand had "told supporters at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama, Saturday that he believed the magazine was considering him for the annual recognition."
While only the editors of the magazine ultimately choose who they think deserves the annual note of prestige, TIME invites readers to cast their opinion on which person they think "most influenced the news this year for better or worse" by voting online.
Voting on the reader’s choice poll ends at midnight on December 6 and the magazine will announce the winner on December 9.