Mr. Sanders’s surprising success—and Mrs. Clinton’s travails—highlight how far the party has moved leftward since her husband, former President Bill Clinton, steered it to the center in the early 1990s.
The Republican Party, meanwhile, has veered to the right.
Polls illustrate the shift in both parties. In 1990, just 13% of Democrats called themselves “very liberal,” while 12% of Republicans identified as “very conservative,” according to Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling. By last year the number was 26% for Democrats and 29% for Republicans. . .
Anger mounted during the Obama years over growing income inequality, particularly after Wall Street bailouts rescued some of the country’s richest people while many Americans struggled financially in a tepid job market.
Statistics explain voter fury. The top 3% of households had more than twice as much wealth in 2013 as the bottom 90% put together, according to the Federal Reserve. The top 400 taxpayers’ share of U.S. income doubled in two decades, according to the Internal Revenue Service. While top incomes rose, every other group was stagnant. . .
“Here’s a guy who owns the label of socialist. It’s inconceivable that a major candidate would have done that prior to Occupy,” Mr. Varon said. “Occupy gave a new prestige to a set of ideas that were normally considered quite marginal.”. . .
“In the last 30 years, when people say to me, ‘Bernie you’re coming up with these ambitious ideas. How can you afford them?’” Mr. Sanders told the crowd at a campaign rally Sunday. “The answer is in the last 30 years, there has been a massive transfer of wealth from the pockets of working families to the top 1/10th of 1%. And we can afford these programs because we’re going to transfer some of that wealth back.”