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Could Joe Biden Spell Trouble for Bernie Sanders in Oregon?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

 

Bernie Sanders

An announcement from Vice President Joe Biden confirming his run for the Presidency in 2016 could mean the end of Oregon's love affair with Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders.

John Horvick, Vice President and Director of Political Operations at DHM Research, a Portland based political research firm, said Biden's support among the party's liberal members could hurt Sanders.

“He's very popular with liberal democrats,” he said. “His stint as Vice-President the past few years has built him a nice base of support with that group.”

While the field for the Republican Presidential nomination is a veritable clown car, with so many candidates they could not be contained with just one debate, the race for the Democratic nomination has featured just two main players: former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Sanders.

So far, Clinton holds a slim margin in the polls, though Sanders is very much nipping at her heels. For voters unhappy with the current state of American politics or distrustful of Clinton's establishment history and recent scandals, Sanders has been the only true alternative.

A Base of Support

 

“He would certainly shake-up the race,”  Kari Chisholm, a Democratic political consultant and the President of Mandate Media., told GoLocal. “....He has a real ability to connect with people, with the everyday American and the everyday Oregonian.”

If Biden follows his late son Beau's advice and jumps into the race, he could take away plenty of Sanders' support, according to Democratic political observers.

“Joe Biden has an enormous reservoir of goodwill...a lot of folks really like the guy,” Chisholm said. “He's had a long career as a 'regular guy' in the Senate.”

Chisholm also pointed out that, even without an official declaration of his candidacy, Biden's stock is rising.

“Not too long ago, we saw him polling in the single digits,” he said, alluding to national polls on who should represent the Democrats in the 2016 general election. “No he's showing signs of real strong support.”

Hilary Clinton; courtesy wikipedia

An Alternative to Hilary

Part of Sanders appeal, thus far, has been his stark opposition to Hilary Clinton, who many predicted would secure the nomination with relative ease.  With a new alternative like Biden in the mix, Chisholm said that some supporters may change allegiances.

“You have two kinds of people that support Bernie Sanders. Those who align and agree with him ideologically, and those that say 'anyone but Hilary,'” Chisholm said. “Certainly folks who care a lot about Sanders and agree with him ideologically will continue to support him, but those that are just reacting negatively to Hilary Clinton may support Biden.”

Horvick said that an entrance from Biden would surely attract those who dislike Clinton. However, he did not believe this would strip Sanders of his support.

“I think the anti-Hilary crowd exists, and I think if Biden enters the race, some of her detractors supporting Biden instead of Sanders is a probable outcome, but I don't think that will hurt Sanders too much,” he said.

He cautioned, however, that Sanders has had strong shows of support from Oregon voters in the past.

“That many people are not going to pack the Moda Center because they dislike somebody,” he said.  “His message..has resonated with people. If it was just people looking for anyone but Hilary, I think Martin O'Malley would be doing better.”

Elizabeth Warren

The Warren Factor

Also helping Biden topple Sanders' support could be an endorsement or partnership with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Warren has been a darling of progressives and far-left voters for the past few years, and her support could provide candidates with a large, and energetic, side of the party.

Chisholm said she could even give Biden a lift with those that prefer Sanders' more staunch liberalism to his and Clinton's more more centered views.

“I think that whomever Warren decides to endorse, it will absolutely change the race,” he said. “It would be a huge boost for Biden to have Warren on his side.”

Sanders, meanwhile, may not get the same boost. While the endorsement of a well-respected senator would give him a “huge credibility boost,” according to Chisholm, he is popular with many of the Warren faithful and has already felt the results of their support.

 

Related Slideshow: Bernie Sanders Rallies in Portland

The Bernie Sanders rally at the Moda Center in Portland drew the largest crowd its campaign has seen yet.  Upwards of 28,000 people showed up to the event with many being turned away and watching his speech on a screen in the spillover section.

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Sanders supporter Shelley Withee said that "he stands for everything the people really stand for.”

Photo credit: Hilary Devaney

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Many Sanders enthusiasts who were present at the rally had choice words about Hillary.  “Democrats are forming another branch – a smarter branch. Hillary represents the corporate democrat. I believe in the social democrat and so does my grandma who is 87,” said Brett Bottorff.

Photo credit: Hilary Devaney

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Don't Shoot Portland organizer Teressa Raiford Mazique was arrested yesterday on the anniversary of Michael Brown's death.

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The eager crowd did "the wave" in anticipation of Sanders.

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Union member Dinah Foley spoke in support of Sanders.

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PCUN member Jaime Arredondo spoke on Bernie's commitment to supporting immigrant and farm worker rights.

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Climate justice activist Mia Reback spoke in support of Sanders.

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Spokeswoman Symone Sanders

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Bernie Sanders and wife Jane O'Meara Sanders

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Sanders spoke of a broad range of social justice issues yesterday.

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Addressing the prison industrial complex in America, Sanders said “we have more people in jail than any other country on earth. I want to see this country not have more people in jail, but more people in jobs and education.”

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“That’s what this campaign is about. It’s bringing people together for a political revolution,” said Sanders.

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“We live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world –but not many people feel that. We are going to change that,” said Sanders when discussing the disparity in wealth in America.

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Don't Shoot Portland organizers attended the rally on the anniversary of Michael Brown's death.

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“It will make life easier for fourth graders from Portland who will know they will make it to the middle class,” said Sanders.

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After his speech Sanders shook hands and took pictures with supporters.

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