Although Colorado’s Democratic activists tend toward the far left and preferred Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008, the 5,000 activists who showed up at DU to listen and cheer Sanders will likely not carry the state caucus or be part of the winners in Philadelphia in July 2016.
But clearly the party is divided as severely as the Republicans between ideological wings who want hot rhetoric and controversial solutions, which for the Democrats tend to be expensive and require much more government.
A couple of recent surveys summarize the Democrats’ dilemma with Sanders.
- Gallup reports Democrats have indeed shifted to the left. Forty-seven percent now identify as socially liberal and economically moderate or liberal, up 8 points since the 2008 election and up 17 points since 2001 when Hillary Clinton’s husband left office. Interestingly, Democrats are more liberal on social issue, such as gay marriage, than economic issues, which may explain Sanders’ hot rhetoric and rather pedestrian solutions, such as more infrastructure expenditures and higher minimum wage.
- A second Gallup poll shows that the label voters are most adverse to support is “socialist” – the label Sanders prefers. Half of voters would not support a socialist.