“It may have been inevitable that eventually you would have two candidates representing each side of the ideological divide in the party. A lot of smart people I’ve talked to lately think there’s a very good chance those two end up being Biden and Sanders,” said David Brock, a longtime Hillary Clinton ally who founded a pro-Clinton super PAC in the 2016 campaign. “They’ve both proven to be very resilient.”
Democratic insiders said that they are rethinking Sanders’ bid for a few reasons: First, Warren has recently fallen in national and early-state surveys. Another factor, they said, is that he has withstood the ups and downs of the primary, including his own heart attack. At the same time, other candidates with once-high expectations, such as Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke, have dropped out or languished in single digits in the polls.
“I believe people should take him very seriously. He has a very good shot of winning Iowa, a very good shot of winning New Hampshire, and other than Joe Biden, the best shot of winning Nevada,” said Dan Pfeiffer, who served as a adviser to former President Barack Obama. “He could build a real head of steam heading into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.”
The durability of Sanders’ candidacy has come as a surprise even in some states where he performed strongly in 2020, and where he is attempting to improve his standing ahead of the 2020 election.
California state Sen. Scott Wiener, who defeated a Sanders-backed Democrat for his seat in the liberal-heavy San Francisco area in 2016, said that Sanders has been “more resilient than I anticipated.”
“But in retrospect,” he added, “he has a very, very loyal following, and people have really stuck with him.”
Sanders is in second place in national polls, nearly 9 percentage points behind Joe Biden, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics average. He is second in Iowa and first in New Hampshire. Thelatest CNN pollfound that he has the highest net favorability rating of any Democratic presidential candidate.