Sanders gains on Clinton in latest Iowa poll

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A summer of Clinton stumbles gives way to an uncertain fall for Democrats.

Joe Biden may be considering whether to enter the race for president, but he sat out this past week’s meeting of the Democratic National Committee. MINNEAPOLIS — The Democratic Party, whose presidential race has been mostly overshadowed by Donald Trump and the Republicans, heads into the fall with its nomination contest far less certain than it once appeared and braced for a series of events that will have a significant effect on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign.

Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton appear onstage at the Vital Voices Global Partnership 2013 Global Leadership Awards gala in Washington.Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is inching up on fellow candidate Hillary Clinton in Iowa, now trailing by only 7 percentage points in the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll.

In his place, backers greeted a curious few in a hotel suite 20 floors above the official gathering, handing out chocolate bars wrapped with a stylized photo of Biden behind the wheel of a convertible and an “I’m Ridin’ with Biden” label. Clinton’s standing has been eroded both by her own shaky handling of the e-mail controversy and by the populist energy fueling the challenge of Sen. As Biden ponders a challenge to Clinton for the Democratic nomination, she has rolled out a string of high-profile endorsements in the early voting contests of Iowa and South Carolina and scheduled an onslaught of fundraisers across the country in the effort to throw cold water on a possible Biden bid. The Register points out this is the first time Clinton has dropped below the 50 percent threshold in this particular poll since the last four surveys were taken.

Her weakened position in the polls has stoked talk about a possible late entry from Vice President Biden, which could dramatically change the dynamic of the race. Some Democratic insiders have written off Sanders’ growing support as flimsy and as something that will not transfer to votes at the caucuses and primaries; however, others say Sanders better communicates with younger voters and the activist Democratic base than any other candidate. According to The Register, Sanders has risen from 5 percent support, while Clinton has fallen from 56 percent to 37 percent support since January among likely Iowa caucus-goers. “What this new poll shows is that the more Iowans get to know Bernie the better they like him and what he stands for. Rather than inheriting his party’s machine, a Biden campaign would have to find a way to take it back. “Secretary Clinton’s folks have been talking to these people for a very, very long time,” said Vermont Sen.

What can Clinton do to regain the trust of voters, generate genuine enthusiasm among grass-roots activists and reassure nervous Democrats that she will be a strong nominee atop the party’s ticket in November next year? We’ve seen the same thing in New Hampshire and across the country,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said of the poll. “At a time when the middle class continues to disappear and almost all new wealth and income is going to the top 1 percent, the American people want leadership that is prepared to fight for working families and take on the greed of a billionaire class that has enormous control over our economy, our political life and the media,” Sanders’ spokesman added. Bernie Sanders, whose vibrant crowds and steady poll numbers make him Clinton’s strongest current challenger. “So she has a huge advantage.” Yet Biden’s supporters see an opening, partly because of Clinton’s inability to shake questions about her use of a personal e-mail server while serving as secretary of state.

Had Sirhan Sirhan not gunned him down, Bobby Kennedy probably would have out-muscled Vice President Hubert Humphrey — a good man who deserved better cards than fate dealt him that year — for the nomination. His candor, long history of fighting for Democratic causes and personal struggles — a widower at a young age now grieving over the recent death of son Beau — make him an admired figure in the party. “He’s one of us. DNC members who were on a conference call with the vice president last week came away with significant doubts that he was emotionally ready to run as he and his family still grieve the death of his son, Beau. “People love him,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said. “But I think it would take one incredible sales pitch to convince the people right now who are energized about Bernie Sanders to move away from him or the people who are gung-ho about Hillary to move away from her.” A new poll released Saturday night showed Clinton on a dangerously downward trajectory in Iowa, whose caucuses will kick off the nominating contest. The questions hovering over Sanders include whether he can convince enough Democrats that he is electable and, if he falls short, whether the movement behind him would shift its allegiance willingly to Clinton or the eventual nominee.

And can Democrats capitalize long-term on what they see as significant vulnerabilities that Trump and other Republican candidates have exposed in recent weeks, especially with women and Hispanic voters? “Every single day, another one of them says something outrageous or offensive to alienate key constituencies that matter,” DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. “It leaves me and my fellow Democrats not needing to say very much.” For all their glee at watching the Republicans, Democratic leaders are more inwardly focused today than they have been all year, with Clinton at the center of attention. It sent five employees to the DNC meeting, emailing attendees and passing out fliers in hallways to invite people to their pro-Biden hotel suite. “I asked them, ‘What’s his path?“’ said Mitchell Ceasar, a Florida attorney and party operative. Hillary is much less popular among blacks than is President Obama, but she’s the only one of the old rich white Democrats running this time who sparks any enthusiasm among them at all. Inside the Clinton team, there is an acknowledgment that the issue has been badly handled and that it has given rise to broader worries about her trustworthiness and sense of entitlement. “Stuff is coming in from outer space to us and that’s challenging, but I think what she did a few days ago was important in terms of acknowledging that people have questions,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager. “She’s taken responsibility for this, and I think at this point now we have a lot of supporters on Capitol Hill and our activists who are ready to really call this for what it is.” Still, a senior Democratic official said the e-mail story was “an absolutely self-inflicted wound.” Democrats are crying out, “Just talk to me, tell me what’s going on.

It put out a memo on Thursday saying, “By the numbers: The campaign has 47 organizers on the ground with more on the way,11 offices open from river to river where volunteers are being engaged, at least one identified supporter in each of Iowa’s 1,682 precincts, and the support of critical community leaders across the spectrum who are committed to Hillary Clinton and will power this campaign for the next five months.” Since May, Mrs. Her version of Draft Biden, a since shuttered outside group called Ready for Hillary, spent years before Clinton got into the race amassing millions of email addresses of potential supporters. Even if he isn’t, it could be hard not to indict Hillary, because former CIA Directors John Deutch and David Petraeus, and former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger — prominent Democrats all — were indicted for fewer, much less harmful breaches of security.

While supporters say bigger checks have been rolling in recently, Clinton is a former first lady and senator from New York with a strong fundraising history. Clinton backers, who sported gold “H” lapel pins at the DNC meetings, were rewarded for their loyalty with invitations to private briefings from Clinton and top campaign officials. Democrats today are so depraved there might not be a lie she could tell or law she could break that would cause support for her to plummet much below where it is now. Clinton talked for about 15 minutes, drawing cheers when she assured them, “I’m not a quitter.” Ed Cote, a Washington state Democratic leader and a Clinton admirer, said that event was a perfect example of why Biden would find himself in a tougher primary than a sitting vice president might expect. “Most of the people there have votes on the first ballots, and they’re solidly with her,” Cote said. “She’s doing exactly what she needs to be doing.” Clinton learned the importance of that support in 2008, when she ended her long, hard-fought primary campaign after it became clear she lacked enough delegates to capture the nomination. “We are working really hard to lock in as many supporters as possible,” Clinton said Friday. “This is really about how you put the numbers together to secure the nomination.” But there’s that side of her that needs to come across.” All the questions about Clinton would come into starker relief if Biden were to decide to run.

Martin O’Malley will look for opportunities to take off his shirt, and to say he’s a lifelong Democrat. (All the others, including Hillary, were Republicans at one time or another.) Her opponents will note Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate in either party who voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

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