Keeping up with presidential politics in Texas usually equates to daily reports on the whereabouts of Ted Cruz and Rick Perry, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the Republican field. Hillary Clinton is heard from less, perhaps in part because she has yet to hit the hustings in full force. More strikingly, there’s another politician who is surprising the status quo, but getting almost zero attention from Texas media: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders – and his audience keeps getting bigger.
Although he’s said to be within single digits of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire polls, it might prove difficult for a proclaimed socialist like Sanders to compete in Texas. Todd Gilman, Washington bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, however, says there’s a natural tendency for citizens of either party to support a candidate that gets away from mainstream politics.
“There is a constituency that you could call the anybody-but-Hillary kind of crowd,” he says. “Bernie Sanders himself is an appealing figure to some people – not to a lot of people, he’s not everybody’s cup of tea … but he’ll have a certain amount of support, even in a place like Texas.”
Despite Sanders’ populist rhetoric – he wants a $15 minimum wage, universal healthcare and a higher tax rate for corporations and the rich, among other things – he is likely to garner the support of some people. Particularly, those who feel that the system has failed them, like blue-collar workers and those who prefer a bigger, more paternalistic government.
“Those are messages that clearly would resonate with a substantial but not majority segment of the population,” Gilman says. “There are people who are skeptical of Hillary Clinton; she’s kind of a big business Democrat, more of a centrist.”
When it comes to surviving a very costly Super Tuesday Texas and southern state primary against the “Clinton machine,” Gilman believes it “would be hard for [Sanders].”