American voters would pick U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) over the three top Republican presidential contenders. That’s the conclusion of a CNN/ORC International poll of 1,017 voters taken on July 22–25.
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Our friends over at Raw Story crunched a few numbers and discovered that Sanders would actually beat the three top Republicans in a head-to-head presidential contest. Their math indicates that Republicans have a far weaker presidential field that would face some serious problems in next year’s presidential race.
Here’s how the votes stacked up:
- Sanders beat the most probable GOP nominee, former Florida governor Jeb Bush by 1%. Sanders – 48%, Bush – 47%.
- Sanders beat Wisconsin governor and conservative bulldog Scott Walker by six points. Sanders – 48%, Walker – 42%.
- Sanders trounced reality TV pest and media favorite Donald Trump by 21 points. Sanders – 59%, Trump – 38%.
An NBC News/Marist poll of New Hampshire voters had even more bad news for Republicans. It found that Sanders had a higher favorable rating than any of the Republicans: 41%. Sanders had the highest favorable rating of any candidate, slightly higher than Jeb Bush, who had 40%.
What the Polls Tell Us
Okay, so what does this tell us? Well, three things first. Donald Trump is not a serious presidential candidate. His campaign is a bad joke that the public sees right through even if the media seems to fall for it.
Second, the GOP and its policies and candidates are not that popular. The public simply does not like them and wants an alternative—any alternative. My guess is that a lot of people are picking Sanders because he’s not one of those other guys.
The same poll found that 41% of those surveyed had never heard of the firebrand from Vermont. Actually, around 24% of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of Sanders; his favorable rating was actually below a number of candidates, including Jeb Bush (34%), Donald Trump (34%), Mike Huckabee (31%), Rand Paul (29%) and Marco Rubio (26%), yet still won the head to heads, which indicates deep dislike of the GOP and its policies.
Another big problem is that the probable Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, had a higher favorable rating than any of the Republican candidates at 44%, although 49% of voters still had an unfavorable rating of her. In fact, only one Republican had a higher unfavorable rating than Hillary—Donald Trump, whom 59% of voters disapproved of.
CNN-ORC also discovered that for all her unpopularity, Hillary would beat all the Republicans handily. In a Jeb Bush/Hillary Clinton matchup, Hillary got 51% and Jeb 46%. Like Sanders, Hillary trounced Trump with 57% to 38%. She also easily beat Scott Walker, getting 54% to 43%.
This is very bad news for Republicans because it looks as if any Democrat would beat any of the current GOP crop. It looks as if the Democrats are simply more popular with voters.
That indicates that the problem could be with the Republican “brand” and not the candidates themselves, Rob Garver of the Fiscal Times pointed out over at Business Insider. The GOP is less popular than one of the most despised figures in American political history—Hillary Clinton (who had an approval rating of just 43% among all voters, according to Gallup)—and its candidates are incapable of beating an unknown radical. The Republican Party is no longer able to garner popular support from average Americans. It sounds as if the GOP’s policies and candidates simply are not resonating with the public.
Conservatives in Trouble as America Moves Left
Third, as I have noted before, America is increasingly becoming a center left country. Bernie Sanders and his ideas are far closer to the American mainstream than most Republicans would care to admit. Bernie Sanders’ agenda is also closer to the thinking of average people on Main Street than Scott Walker’s.
One sign of the leftward shift is the fall of support for libertarian U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). As recently as March, Paul had a 31% favorable rating. It had dropped to 28% by July. Support for two other conservative favorites, Dr. Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee, has also fallen. Carson was polling at 22% in March and 20% in July. Huckabee was polling at 35% in March and 30% in July.
Republicans also have a big problem within their own party: They have no clear front runner or a strong candidate. The two front runners, Trump and Bush, only got 18% and 15% of the vote respectively when matched with other GOP candidates. Walker came in third at 10%, which means he is a serious contender.
Hillary Is a Strong Candidate
Despite all the hype, Hillary Clinton is a very strong candidate who easily trounces Bernie Sanders. The poll found that Hillary won 57% of the probable Democratic vote to Sanders’ 18%. No other Democrat came close, although Vice President Joe Biden, who has not said if he is running or not, did get 14%.
The former first lady is a very strong candidate, but she does have something to worry about. Sanders has been gaining momentum, while she has not. Back in February, right after he announced, Sanders had a support level of 3% that grew to 5% in April, 10% in May, 14% in June, and 19% in July. Hillary’s support is about the same, while Sanders’ is growing. If Sanders’ rise continues, he could be in a position to seriously challenge Hillary by the time the actual campaign starts in January.
Hillary’s problem is that she is rousing little or no enthusiasm from the base, while Sanders is. Democrats would like a much more radical candidate with an aggressive agenda, which Hillary obviously is not. Hillary is going to need to change her message, perhaps radically so, in order to counter Sanders. The problem with that strategy is that voters might not believe the new Hillary and may see her as a flip flopper.
The polls indicate that Republicans are in deep trouble. One has to wonder how this will affect next year’s Congressional election. Will Americans take their dissatisfaction with the status quo out on the GOP’s legislators?