Bernie Sanders’ nomination could drag down vulnerable House Democrats trying to hold onto their competitive districts, according to a new poll conducted for Mike Bloomberg’s campaign that is circulating among members — providing fresh data for moderates warning about a wipeout if Sanders emerges to lead their ticket against President Donald Trump.
The poll of voters in more than 40 battleground House districts currently held by Democrats — conducted by Global Strategy Group for the Bloomberg campaign and obtained by POLITICO from two sources — found that Sanders is less popular than Trump and loses significant support when hit for holding socialist positions. Sanders is a self-described Democratic socialist, a distinction that his opponents are starting to draw more frequently in the days following the Vermont senator’s dominance in Nevada. His agenda of “Medicare for All,” the “Green New Deal” and guaranteed tuition and debt-free public colleges has rankled more establishment members of the party.
The poll found Sanders essentially running even with Trump in a head-to-head match-up across the districts, trailing the incumbent by just one point. But Trump opens up 6-point advantage after a list of negative messages about Sanders’ ideology and alleged ineffectiveness in the Senate is presented to poll respondents.
But Sanders’ potential impact extends beyond the presidential race. A plurality of voters, 39 percent, say they will be less likely to vote for a Democrat for Congress if Sanders is the Democratic nominee and his ideas are folded into the party platform. That’s nearly double the 21 percent who say they would be more likely to vote for a Democrat for Congress, while 34 percent say it wouldn’t impact their vote.
A separate memo drafted for Bloomberg’s campaign by the polling firm and also obtained by POLITICO claims “Sanders jeopardizes [the] Democratic majority in House” but doesn’t outright argue Democrats would lose the House if Sanders were the nominee.
The poll found that 47 percent of voters in competitive, Democratic-held districts felt that “the increased role of socialist ideas in the Democratic Party” was a “bad thing,” and 19 percent “ believe it is a good thing,” and 24 percent said “it makes no difference to them.” The poll was conducted Feb. 22-23 and surveyed 600 likely general election voters across 42 districts in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Frontline” program for vulnerable party incumbents. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.