If you Google Bernie Sanders, some surprising poll numbers will appear, showing the rumpled, self-described socialist gaining fast on Hillary Clinton in the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
It seems unlikely that the little-known Vermont senator can overtake Clinton, the most famous Democrat on the planet next to Barack Obama. But recent polls show him narrowing the gap in key primary states, after a campaign that's only two months old.
In a Morning Consult New Hampshire poll, Clinton was leading with 44 percent, but crusty, plain spoken Sanders was closing in with 32 percent. (Vice President Biden drew 11 percent, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, had 2 percent, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, 1 percent.)
In so short a time, the gruff 73-year-old lawmaker has climbed 15 percentage points in the Democratic field from early single digits.
"We have momentum. Our numbers are growing," Sanders said this week on the campaign trail.
"This is not an educational campaign. This is not a protest campaign. This is a campaign to win," he told political reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast briefing.
While the national network news media isn't taking him seriously, other political observers say he poses a serious threat to Hillary's issue-dodging, tightly controlled, imperial campaign.
Ask Google if Sanders can beat Clinton in the primaries, and up pops a blog in the HuffingtonPost by columnist H. A. Goodman who titled his analysis "Why Bernie Sanders Will Become the Democratic Nominee and Defeat Any Republican."
Goodman writes that Sanders "is down by just 8 points in New Hampshire and has gained tremendous momentum in Iowa."
If he "wins both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, the odds will favor him getting the Democratic nomination. What was once thought of as a long shot is becoming a reality, primarily because Bernie Sanders has energized his base, while Hillary Clinton has been forced to defend against email and foreign donor scandals," he says.
That last part of his blog about beating "any Republican in 2016" is a stretch. Americans are not ready to buy into a socialist president who has never met a big spending bill he didn't like, hates capitalism and wants to regulate and tax the U.S. economy into the Stone Age.
But there's no doubt he is is drawing larger and more enthusiastic Democratic crowds lately, chanting "Bernie, Bernie, Bernie."
More than 3,000 Americans showed up at a recent rally in Minneapolis, over 1,000 for a speech in Keene, N.H., and "standing-room-only" at an appearance in Davenport, Iowa.
But as Sanders builds support for what the liberal news media calls his "populist" campaign, which is another term for socialism, Clinton has been losing gas and running into trouble.
"Early-state Democrats are evenly divided over whether Hillary Clinton's campaign should be worried about recent polls showing her highest unfavorability ratings in years," the Politico website reported earlier this month.
In a survey of campaign activists, party operatives and elected officials in New Hampshire and Iowa, 50 percent said "there's cause for concern while the other 50 percent saw no reason for alarm."
"Twenty-plus Republicans beating her up, Elizabeth Warren talking about the working man issues that terrify her, a couple of candidates like Bernie…and Martin to fill in her policy blanks and a media that feels stiffed by her lack of access, so all we can focus on is emails and the notorious Clinton Foundation and newly acquired wealth that suggests, at a minimum, the appearance of impropriety," a Granite State Democrat told Politico.
"She is not proactively addressing the issues of concern to Americans," said an Iowa Democrat. "Her refusal to take questions is taking a toll."
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll this week found "Clinton's favorability ratings were lower than in any Post poll since 2008," writes John Sides, a professor at George Washington University who specializes in public opinion surveys.
"Even more striking is that Clinton has lost support among Democrats," Sides said, from a net +59 points in March, to +50 percent now.
"And the fact that Clinton has lost ground among Democrats suggests that the negative news coverage of the past two months…. actually took some toll," he said.
Her declining polls and campaign missteps have led to increasingly negative coverage from the news media, as Sanders' support grows stronger.
Take, for example, this headline that the Post ran above a campaign story Monday: "Sanders is an unlikely -- but real -- threat to Clinton", followed by this stinging subhead: Vermont socialist could seriously damage Democratic front-runner."
"Sanders's emerging strength has exposed continued misgivings among the party's progressive base about Clinton, whose team is treading carefully in its public statements," said the Post, a longtime Clinton booster."Supporters have acknowledged privately the potential for Sanders to damage her -- perhaps winning an early state or two -- even if he can't win the nomination."
I wouldn't be so sure about that last claim of Clinton's invincibility.
The Democrats' political base has been lurching to the radical, hard left over the decades which explains why a socialist like Sanders is rapidly climbing in the polls.
He could end up defeating Hillary in the primaries next year -- giving the GOP's nominee their best chance yet to win back the White House and strengthen their hold on Congress. Go Bernie.