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Supporters applaud and wave signs during a town hall address by Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Thursday, July 2, 2015, in Rochester, Minn. (Photo: AP/Jim Mone)

Why Surprising Numbers of Republicans Vote for Bernie Sanders

Thom Hartmann

Ann Coulter knows who she wants to be the Democratic nominee for president, and who that person is, well, it may surprise you.

She wants Hillary Clinton to be the nominee, and thinks that if Bernie gets the nod, he'll beat whoever the Republicans come up with to run against him.

You won't hear me say this often, but Ann Coulter is right.

If Bernie Sanders ends up being the Democratic nominee for president, and it looks more and more every day like he will be, his Republican opponent is going to have a very hard time beating him.

And that's because of all the Democratic candidates running, Bernie Sanders has the best chance of capturing Republican votes.

I've seen how Bernie does this, up close and personal.

Despite its reputation as a place filled with liberal hippies, Vermont, like most of rural northern New England, is home to a lot of conservatives.

Anyone running for statewide office there needs to win these conservatives' votes, and Bernie is great at doing that.

Back in 2000 when Louise and I were living in Vermont, it wasn't all that uncommon to see his signs on the same lawn as signs that said "W for President."

Seriously, I'm not kidding.

And as NPR's "Morning Edition" found out last year, some of Bernie's biggest fans are in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, the poorest and most conservative part of the state.

It's people from the Northeast Kingdom who've overwhelmingly elected Bernie to almost 20 years in Congress and two straight terms as senator, and it's people like them in the rest of the country who will probably send Bernie to the White House if he gets the Democratic nomination for president.

So why is that?

Why is Bernie Sanders, a Democratic socialist, so popular with people who should hate "socialism?"

The answer is pretty simple.

While Americans disagree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, they're actually pretty unified on the bread and butter economic issues that Bernie has made the core of his campaign.

In fact, a recent poll by the Progressive Change Institute, shows that Americans overwhelmingly agree with Bernie on key issues like education, health care and the economy.

Like Bernie, 75 percent of Americans poll support fair trade that "protects workers, the environment and jobs."

Seventy-one percent support giving all students access to a debt-free college education.

Seventy-one percent support a massive infrastructure spending program aimed at rebuilding our broken roads and bridges, and putting people back to work.

Seventy percent support expanding Social Security.

Fifty-nine percent support raising taxes on the wealthy so that millionaires pay the same amount in taxes as they did during the Reagan administration.

Fifty-eight percent support breaking up the big banks.

Fifty-five percent support a financial transaction or Robin Hood tax.

Fifty-one percent support single-payer health care, and so and so on.

Pretty impressive, right?

And here's the thing - supporting Social Security, free college, breaking up the big banks, aren't "progressive" policies, they're just common sense, and 60 years ago they would have put Bernie Sanders smack dab in the mainstream of my father's Republican Party.

This is why Ann Coulter is so scared of Bernie becoming the Democratic nominee.

She knows that he speaks to the populist, small "d" democratic values that everyday Americans care about, regardless of their political affiliation.

That's the really radical part of Bernie's 2016 campaign, and what's what maybe, just maybe, might make him the 45th President of the United States.


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