Posts Tagged ‘politics’

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Have readers noticed the excitement being generated by socialist Bernie Sanders’s candidacy?

I saw it in the comments sections of various newspapers when it was reported that Sanders had announced he was going to run. They were overwhelmingly positive. And article after article provide evidence that voters young and old have been coming out to support him in droves.

Even the Wall Street Journal has taken notice:

DES MOINES, Iowa—­­It’s the sort of problem many candidates would envy. Sen. Bernie Sanders is drawing large, ebullient crowds that are taxing an upstart presidential campaign that wasn’t expected to go very far.

The Vermont independent, a favorite of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing, is being feted by standing room­-only audiences that in some cases surpass those of front-­runner Hillary Clinton.

More than 3,000 came to a Sanders speech in Minneapolis in May; 700 attended his speech at Drake University here Friday night, about the same number who went to a Hillary Clinton event on Sunday that featured a buffet table and a live band. More than 3,000 people have RSVP’d for a Sanders rally in Denver on Saturday, the campaign says.

This Bernie boomlet is forcing the campaign to improvise. Aides have set up loudspeakers for people left outside Sanders events, and scrambled to find larger venues to accommodate unexpected crowds who relish his attacks on what he calls the “cocky billionaire class.”

Sanders rallies offer few frills and a minimal entourage. Mrs. Clinton, who as a former first lady receives Secret Service protection, traveled through Iowa over the weekend in a seven-­car motorcade. Mr. Sanders drove around in a rented Chevy with a pair of aides.

At Mrs. Clinton’s rally in New York on Saturday, campaign volunteers met people getting off the subway at Roosevelt Island and gave them directions. At the Drake event, someone scrawled “Bernie” in chalk on a sidewalk with an arrow pointing to the right building.

A Sanders audience gets a long speech laden with statistics and policy details from a rumpled candidate whose hair looks perpetually uncombed. It goes over well.

Tyson Manker, an Iraq war veteran, said he drove six hours from his home in central Illinois to hear Mr. Sanders’s speech at Drake in Des Moines.

“The man has always spoken truth to power,” Mr. Manker said in an interview. “He has the backs of veterans and working people.” Invoking a phrase from then-­Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 insurgent presidential bid, he said: “I’m fired up and ready to go.”

The 73­-year­-old Mr. Sanders is particularly popular among young voters, who say they are drawn to his grandfatherly image. Joe Thoms, a 22­-year­-old who recently graduated from Central College in Pella, Iowa, said Mr. Sanders is his top pick for the Democratic nomination, as well as that of his friends, based on his directness and enthusiasm.

A question for the bare-­bones Sanders campaign is whether it can capitalize on this enthusiasm and provide more than a rhetorical challenge to the Clinton campaign.

At one event in Iowa on Sunday, a young Sanders supporter was having a hard time figuring out how he could help. “I would love to work for the campaign,” said Levi Grenko, a 24-­year-­old social-­media manager who lives in Centerville, Iowa. “But I don’t know how.”

Team Sanders is trying to fix that. At events, a Sanders aide has been urging people to text a certain number­­a way for the campaign to provide information about events and capture details about Sanders supporters.

Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager, conceded growing pains. “We started this campaign a month ago,” he said. “This was not a situation where you had a campaign­-in­-waiting that was hiding inside a super PAC or a nonprofit or a think tank.”

Money has been coming in at a healthy clip, enabling the campaign to hire more staff. The campaign says its goal is to raise up to $50 million, about half what Mrs. Clinton wants to raise for the Democratic primary.

By the end of the month, the Sanders campaign said it expects to have about $10 million on hand.

Some Democratic strategists predict the Sanders momentum will stall at some point. Though many on the left are excited about his attacks on wealthy corporations and billionaires, the same can’t be said of centrist and conservative Democrats who may not see him as electable, they say.

David Axelrod, a top strategist in Mr. Obama’s two presidential election victories, said: “Do I think Bernie Sanders is going to be the nominee? No, I don’t think that’s likely to happen. But do I think he’s going to get votes? Yeah, I do.”

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According to a new poll, Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, agree that money has too much influence on elections and candidates who win office promote policies that help their donors.

They also think the system for funding elections needs to be fundamentally changed or rebuilt—and they don’t expect such changes to be enacted.

In a related study, the Center for Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation found that, in 2014, the top .01 percent of Americans accounted for more than $1 billion worth of political donations, up from $732.7 million in the previous midterm in 2010. The 61-percent increase far exceeds the rate of inflation or the increase in the election’s total cost, “meaning this top group of donors assumed a far greater role in financing the most recent election than the previous midterm.”

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And, finally, there’s not much difference between the two major political parties: the top .01 percent gave to them pretty evenly in both 2010 and 2014.