Estimates vary but make no mistake: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is electrifying the anti-Hillary Clinton wing of the Democratic Party and thus bringing supporters out of the woodwork. From the presidential candidate’s press release:
Shattering a day-old record, 28,000 backers of Bernie Sanders on Sunday filled all the seats and crowded into overflow areas outside the Moda Center sports arena where the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers play.
“Whoa. This is an unbelievable turnout,” Sanders said after he walked onto the stage. Consistently drawing bigger turnouts than any other presidential contender, Sanders told the packed Portland arena, “You’ve done it better than anyone else.” The arena seats were filled and thousands more listened to the speech on loudspeakers outside, according to Michael Lewellen, a Rose Quarter vice president. The total turnout far surpassed the 15,000 in Seattle just 24 hours earlier.
And not just 'unbelievable,' either. CNN explains:
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders drew more than 19,000 people to an NBA arena on Sunday night in Portland, Oregon,setting the record for the largest political event of the 2016 presidential contest.
The Democratic candidate has drawn large crowds nearly everywhere he has gone, so much so that Sanders' campaign has started to be defined by their turnout figures. Sanders' staff has also proudly touted the numbers as proof that their campaign is catching fire nationally, though Sanders' largest rallies have typically been in liberal enclaves
as Madison, Wisconsin, and Sunday's Pacific Northwest events fit that description.
That's true. Sen. Sanders isn’t attracting these kinds of crowds in rural areas or southern red states. The city of Portland is, after all, a major progressive hub. Nevertheless, the total number of people actually making plans and coming out to see him is quite stunning. Not even conservative darlings like Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee are generating this level of interest. And of course, people are starting to notice:
Sanders draws 20k-plus (campaign says 28k) to hear him speak for an hour. As political world obsesses about Trump, something big going on.— Byron York (@ByronYork) August 10, 2015
Agreed. But what, exactly?
For what it's worth, few experts, pundits, and mainstream news media outlets seriously believe a self-professed socialist has a fleeting chance of winning his party’s nomination, let alone the Oval Office. Yet his platform is popular, and his message is deeply appealing to his natural constituency. Sanders, it seems, is reenergizing and reawakening the Democratic base, despite encountering some occasional backlash — and protesters — along the way. What then does this mean for Hillary Clinton and her campaign? Is her coronation ceremony really in jeopardy?
I’ll leave you with the full clip of Sanders' speech. Enjoy:
"Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!"