A new Harvard-Harris poll reveals that the most popular active politician with both Democrats and Republicans is Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Perhaps most interesting is that Sanders not just popular with all parties, but seems to enjoy high approval from voting demographics whose support he was unable to win during the 2016 Democratic Primary.
The above chart shows that Sanders’s approval rating is 57 percent overall, with significant support among young people, non-white racial demographics, and Democrats altogether. One key data point is that he enjoys 58 percent support with women, three points higher than his approval rating with men. Some believe that this shows that the so-called “Bernie Bro” phenomenon is a thing of the past.
Worth noting, around this time in 2013, Hillary Clinton (who had just stepped down as Secretary of State) enjoyed a 57% favorable rating. pic.twitter.com/TRpsbK932K
— Joshua M. Patton (@JoshuaMPatton) June 19, 2017
Presidential prognosticators should not read too much into Sanders’ overall approval rating right now. First (and foremost) it’s ridiculous to even discuss the relevance of approval ratings this far in advance of the presidential election. Second, as the above chart shows, at this time in 2013, Hillary Clinton also had a 57 percent approval rating.
What is relevant about this poll is how it reflects on the Democratic party and their chances in the midterm elections of 2018. Unlike other Democratic leaders (even Clinton herself), Sen. Sanders has kept a relatively low profile.
This makes his few media appearances have more impact, and Sanders maintains his rhetorical focus on economically struggling Americans. Perhaps the most crucial element to his popularity has little to do with policy, and everything to do with tone. Despite Sanders’s gruffness, the core of what he talks about is compassionate.
Sanders often talks about people who need healthcare, who need economic security, and is able to discuss these issues without appearing as “divisive” as other Democrats. His “America” ad–which featured images of his political crowds over the Paul Simon song of the same name–was the most popular political ad of the 2016 campaign.
In this time of partisan strife and lack of faith in government institutions, something that Sen. Bernie Sanders is doing resonates with voters and the Democrats would be well-served by capitalizing on it.
What do you think? Is it Sanders’s policies that voters like so much or is something more emotional people respond to? Share your reaction in the comments below.
Featured image via screengrab