By all accounts, Bernie Sanders should be riding high at the end of this week. Things have been going fairly well for him: He put on a great show at the presidential debate, he released an inspiring new ad and he’s had a run of positive polling.
And yet, even though the latest CNN poll shows Sanders leading over Hillary Clinton in Iowa — and CNN is generally pretty good at predicting victors with a reliable margin of error — this particular figure doesn’t line up with other reputable pollsters. Just about every other survey shows Clinton beating Sanders, and currently FiveThirtyEight shows an approximately 52 percent chance that she’ll be the victor. So what gives?
Of course, the polling is much closer than the probability. In public opinion, Clinton’s hovering around 53 percent and Bernie’s nudging up past 44 percent. But the subtle nuances of public opinion don’t matter much after a vote — all that matters is who has more support, and in nearly every comparison, Clinton’s still in the lead. A look at endorsements from other elected officials — a better predictor than surveys — reveals Clinton has an ever better chance of winning.
But who knows — that could still change. Bernie just released a moving new commercial, and it’s could sway enough voters to make a difference. In it, images of Americana flash by as Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” plays.
The ad neglects to show people of color, which may be intentional since Iowa and New Hampshire are a focus right now, and those states aren’t exactly known for their large minority populations. But it’s still pretty White, a problem for Bernie, since among Black and Latino voters, he’s trailing Clinton by 50 percent.
Things also took a dark turn for Bernie this week when the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT political organization in the country endorsed Hillary for president to almost no one’s surprise. They assume she’s the likely recipient of the nomination, so it only makes sense that they’d make an investment in the candidate they expect to be lobbying for favors. They’re giving her their support now — an endorsement that will lead to money and votes and volunteers — so that they’ll be able to call in favors later.
Bernie’s people weren’t to happy about that. They accused HRC of being part of the “establishment,” which may or may not be a fair accusation, depending on your point-of-view. They’re certainly powerful and well-connected in D.C., but the LGBTQ people they ostensibly represent remain a marginalized group across a large swath of the country. Then again, the HRC hasn’t traditionally done a great job representing all parts of the LGBTQ community either.
So for now, Bernie may comfort himself with the knowledge that he’s polling better than he was before in Iowa, which is at least some consolation. And following the Iowa caucuses, he’ll be headed to New Hampshire, where polls indicate that he has a good chance of beating Clinton.
But unless Bernie can step up his numbers with non-white voters, New Hampshire could be the last piece of good news he gets for a long time.