What can Bernie do for you?



Presidential candidates are ramping up for the next set of upcoming primaries.

Jacob Harp, Staff Writer

Bernie Sanders, the Senator from Vermont who was once thought to have little chance of securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency, recently beat Hillary Clinton by an enormous margin in New Hampshire. Following a narrow defeat by Clinton in Iowa, Sanders regrouped and won the primary by more than 20 points in a state some call the “backyard” to his home state of Vermont.  

One of the biggest groups of people attracted to Sanders’s ideals: college students, for one of Sanders’ reiterated goals has been to significantly reduce the cost of receiving a public college education.  

Jayce Hylton, senior history major, said that Sanders’ appeal to college students can be traced back, in part, to the fact that “student loan debt is higher than it has ever been and [students are] feeling a sense of unfairness.”  

According to Dr. William Delehanty, associate professor of political science, his appeal to this group of young people may not even be based primarily on this goal.  

“The young feel alienated from the current political system,” said Delehanty, “[and] Clinton, in some ways, represents the established political elite.”  

One of the questions plaguing voters right now is whether Sanders can conceivably beat Clinton to secure the presidential nomination. Delehanty was not surprised by his victory in New Hampshire, but said his showing in South Carolina will be more indicative of his shot at winning. 

This South Carolina primary, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 27, will be in a more neutral voting environment. Current straw polls have Clinton leading by nearly 20 points. The reason: Clinton typically has greater support among constituencies that have been traditional supporters of the Democratic Party.  

If Senator Sanders secures the Democratic nomination, yet another question arises: will he be able to win the general election with his views, which place him on the far left of the political spectrum of current candidates?  

“He will have to moderate, to some degree, some of the claims he makes regarding universal health care, reduced cost or free education, claims about getting collective ownership of societal resources,” said Delehanty “because if he goes up against a moderate republican…they’re going to go right after that and suggest that he is to some degree extreme.”  

How will his strategy need to change against the current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, the business mogul considered by many to be even more extreme than Sanders?  

“Trump doesn’t have the relevant experience or policy expertise… that’s where Sanders would go after Trump,” said Delehanty.