By PABLO ROA
After a difficult summer for her campaign, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton received some encouraging news earlier this week. According to a CNN/ORC poll released Sept. 21, Clinton’s lead over Senator Bernie Sanders has grown in recent weeks.
The poll, which surveyed 392 registered Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, gave the former First Lady and Secretary of State an 18-point lead over the independent Senator from Vermont. Of those surveyed, 42 percent said they would most likely support Clinton for the Democratic nomination, while 24 percent chose Sanders. Vice President Joe Biden, who has not yet decided if he’s running in 2016, finished in third place with 22 percent of the vote.
“Because of [Clinton’s] experience as a career politician, she has a solid chance of being at the top,” said Kamyar Dastani, a freshman finance major who identifies with the Republican Party. “Bernie has support in many of the smaller states, but he simply doesn’t have the widespread support of the whole country yet.”
Just two weeks ago, the same CNN/ORC poll had Clinton leading Sanders by a 10-point margin—with Clinton taking 37 percent of the vote and Sanders taking 27 percent. The five-point bump is the first time Clinton’s numbers have improved in the CNN/ORC poll since mid-April, when she was taking 69 percent of the vote.
Clinton’s numbers look even better if the Vice President doesn’t enter the race. When Biden wasn’t included in the poll, 57 percent said they would support Clinton, while 28 percent said they would support Sanders.
Sanders’ supporters aren’t too concerned with Clinton’s apparent bump in the polls, says junior government and politics major Christopher Walkup. Walkup, a member of the UMD grassroots organization Terps for Bernie, points to polling averages on Real Clear Politics that show Sanders steadily gaining on Clinton over the last few months.
“Anyone using the recent CNN/ORC poll is selecting the facts that fit their narrative,” Walkup said. “I do not think that Clinton is gaining in the polls, instead the last poll was an outlier that makes it now seem like Clinton has pulled ahead when really she has stayed relatively consistent.”
Many believe that Clinton’s improvement is due to the fact that she has changed her strategy in dealing with the email scandal. Hoping to finally put the scandal behind her, Clinton has recently adopted a more apologetic tone and has been more upfront about the issue.
“It’s a little early, so I don’t want to say [her improvement] is because of this, but openness could resonate with some people as being trustworthy,” Dastani said.
Walkup, however, believes that Clinton’s new strategy could only change the opinions of those who are on the fence about who to vote for. Walkup says people support Sanders for who he is and what he stands for, not because of Clinton’s past.
“I believe just about everyone in Terps for Bernie operates by the adage ‘If you like Hillary, you will love Bernie,'” Walkup said. “Bernie has been fighting for minority rights, workers rights, middle class rights, women’s rights—everything that the Democratic Party stands for—for decades. Hillary stands for many of these values, but Bernie goes a step further to making sure the American dream, something the impoverished citizens of our country can only dream about nowadays, becomes reality.”