In a morning appearance on CNN Wednesday, political journalist and progressive commentator Krystal Ball went on a soon-to-be celebrated rant as she described why the continued antagonism of establishment Democrats, corporate media, and inside-the-beltway pundits toward the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders is likely a boon—not a threat—to the top-tier 2020 candidate.
"People hate D.C., and the fact that he didn't come here to make friends—that he came here to stand up for the working class—is precisely why he is so consistently popular across polls." —Krystal BallIn the wake of a freshly-released CNN poll showing Sanders leading all other Democratic candidates nationally, Ball—who co-hosts "Rising" on The Hill TV—said the results are in line with a broader surge for his campaign and are actually unsurprising given the totality of what is known about those who support him.
"If look at the numbers throughout this campaign," said Ball, "he's consistently been the most popular candidate in terms of favorability; obviously has this massive grassroots base; the most fundraising numbers—and if you ask voters, not just in this poll but consistently across polls, who they trust most on the issues that matter most to them, Bernie Sanders comes out on top."
Based on that, she continued, "I think honestly, if there hadn't been this relentless narrative against him for years that he was un-electable, he would be running away with this thing. I also think that the [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren attempt to smear him as a secret sexist—or whatever she was trying to say about him—completely backfired."
Sanders, argued Ball, "appeared above the fray" in the dust-up with Warren, and continues to appear "above the fray as [Joe] Biden tries to attack him and wrongly accuses him of putting out a 'doctored' video—all of those things have only served ultimately to strengthen him."
— Eric Blanc (@_ericblanc) January 22, 2020
Responding to comments by Hillary Clinton, who in an interview published Tuesday said "nobody likes" Sanders, Ball ridiculed former secretary of state's remark.
"Like 'nobody likes him'—I mean, are we in junior high?" Ball said. "But second of all—especially with this poll coming out, look how out of touch this looks. This is a failure that I think a lot of D.C. has had, which has made them underestimate Bernie Sanders. If you listen to cable news all day; if you just hang out in this town, you're going to think nobody likes Bernie Sanders—but again, the polls continually show he is absolutely the most popular candidate in the race. New rankings came out, he's the most popular senator in the entire country."
Important to consider on top of all that, Ball continued, is this question: "Why do people like him so much? It's precisely because D.C. hates him."
According to Ball: "People hate D.C., and the fact that he didn't come here to make friends—that he came here to stand up for the working class—is precisely why he is so consistently popular across polls."
Making a final point on how Sanders polls well across key demographics, including among women and people of color, Ball lamented how the "Bernie Bro" line of attack—which seeks to paint his supporters with a broad brush of being rude and privileged young, white men—continues to be deployed by his establishment detractors.
"Worth noting with all this 'Bernie Bro' narrative that's arriving, it's really ugly to invisible-ize his supporters of color," she said, citing again the CNN poll. "I think we need to put this whole 'Bernie Bro' narrative to bed at this point."
Dispelling the myth of that narrative—and diving deeper into what Clinton's diss on Sanders means for the 2020 primary fight—was also the subject a video op-ed Ball delivered on her own show later Wednesday morning:
Meanwhile, the broader grassroots movement driving the Sanders campaign has also been on a counter-offensive this week in response to the wave of attacks by establishment Democrats and the corporate media, both of whom—as progressives predicted—are trying desperately to halt his surge in the polls before the first votes are cast in the 2020 primary season just weeks from now.
The social media hashtag #ILikeBernie began trending on Twitter after Clinton's comments about how "nobody" likes him. Such a comment from Clinton—despite her 2016 loss to Donald Trump, a powerful torchbearer of the Democratic establishment mantle—was just too much for his supporters, especially given his endorsement of her and campaigning on her behalf during the general election.
Similarly, on Monday, the hashtag #IEndorseBernie went viral after the New York Times—in a widely derided "endorsement" reality TV show-style event—chose to give its support to not just one, but two rivals who trail Sanders in national polling and nearly every key early-voting state.
Though newspapers are free to endorse whomever they like and in whatever manner they like, the Times co-endorsement of Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar was seen as an embarrassing spectacle for the Times which did more to expose their loyalty to the "radical center" than help their readers make an informed choice in the primary.