Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has seized the role of primary challenger to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race, and shows no sign of relinquishing that spot anytime soon. The Hill reports today on the Clinton campaign's struggles to deal with what seems an unlikely rival:
It may be time for Hillary Clinton to take the challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders more seriously.
Sanders is surging in the race for the party’s presidential nomination.
The Vermont Independent has drawn huge crowds of supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire, and pulled within striking distance of Clinton in some Granite State polls...
The article goes on to note that, although the Clinton team apparently isn't too concerned yet, the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire set up nicely for Sanders:
In the 2008 contest, Clinton finished third to then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and then-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.). While she has sought to make a play for the state in this cycle, the 2008 showing suggests a vulnerability.
In New Hampshire, Sanders has an advantage in being from Vermont.
A Suffolk University survey released this week found that Sanders had closed to within 10 percentage points of Clinton in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
“He has to bet the farm there,” said Bannon. “A victory in New Hampshire would scare the hell out of the Clinton people.”
Experienced political observer and columnist Brent Budowsky has an interesting article in the New York Observer explaining why Bernie Sanders might be able to win the Iowa Caucuses as well, including the following:
...There is a very real prospect that Senator Bernie Sanders wins an outright victory in the Iowa caucus and pulls off one of the most stunning upsets in modern political history.
At this moment I would put the odds that Mr. Sanders upsets Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucus at nearly 40 percent. As someone who can fairly be called a Democratic insider myself, I can report that some of the smartest Democratic strategists in national politics privately believe this but will not publicly state it...
...lets briefly consider political events in the three days that began last Friday and ended on Sunday... The common denominators during these three days were that Bernie Sanders took a position of conviction and purpose opposing the trade bill, while Hillary Clinton took a position that the Washington Post today correctly reported left her “a lot of wiggle room” by failing to take any position on the trade bill.
These three days, from Friday through Sunday, are a microcosm of the forces at work within the Democratic Party that began in Washington and arrived in the heart of Iowa during campaigning for the caucus vote by the frontrunner candidate and her closest competitor...
There's still a lot of time, and one of the other Democratic candidates might still replace Sanders as the primary rival to Clinton. But it's likely the Sanders team feels that they're ahead of even where they hoped to be at this point in terms of polling and grassroots interest.