People have started to compare the crowds drawn by Bernie Sanders with those of Barack Obama. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The rallies for Barack Obama were animated by the possibility of electing the first African-American president and his status as a bona fide candidate for both whites and blacks. Moreover, the people who attended President Obama’s rallies represented the entire demographic spectrum, black and white, rich and poor, young and old.
The attendees of the rallies for Bernie Sanders are informed by their location, primarily younger whites in college towns. Many have come to them out of curiosity with no expectation of a Bernie Sanders presidency. Senator Sanders, for all his bluntly spoken ideas, will never be nominated or elected and represents mainly a foil for Hillary Clinton.
That’s not to say Mrs. Clinton should ignore his candidacy. She will need to speak to some of the ideas he has proposed and grant him the dignity of a dialogue. The longer she tries to ignore him, the more the crowds will grow to her own detriment in the general election.
But right now, Mr. Sanders is primarily being promoted by outlets such as Fox News, to weaken Mrs. Clinton, and by MSNBC to play to their progressive audience. Both are doing so for separate reasons, but the dual coverage is generating the image of momentum where none exists.