Don’t be fooled by the big crowds Bernie Sanders is attracting. Crowd size doesn’t always translate into big votes, says an analysis by Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
Sanders, who’s emerged as Hillary Clinton’s chief challenger for the Democratic presidential nomination, has packed halls around the country recently. An estimated 10,000 came to hear him in Madison, Wisconsin, while 5,000 attended a Denver event and 8,000 showed up in Portland, Maine.
The crowd size does show that “the left wing of the Democratic Party wants to entertain the idea of a Clinton-less future, and Sanders is the candidate who has received the left’s energy at this point. As he is to the left of the other Democratic candidates not named Clinton, he’s become a natural focal point for frustration with Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, her center-left outlook, and her foreign policy past.,” the analysts said Thursday
But, said Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, and two associates, “It’s important to remember that crowd size fundamentally doesn’t matter much. Comparisons between how large one candidate’s crowd is compared to another are ripe for misunderstanding.”
They cite 2012, “when press reports and GOP partisans frequently mentioned the large numbers that Mitt Romney was drawing on the campaign trail. Did this end up mattering? Obama won the popular vote by about 5 million votes. “
The analysts also note the demographics of Sanders rally sites”Only the Mile High City is less than 60 percent white....and of the 50 biggest cities in the United States, Denver and Minneapolis (where Sanders held a recent event) are among the 18 that are majority non-Hispanic white. Portland is the biggest city in Maine, over 80 percent white, and located in the Pine Tree State’s most liberal area, Cumberland County. Madison is three-fourths white and an uber-liberal university city.”
But he does do well in key early voting states, such as Iowa and New Hampshire. “At the same time,” the analysts said, “Clinton seems to be running fairly equally among liberal and moderate Democrats, an indicator of her broad support within the party, even with Sanders’ recent rise.”