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Primary Source: Sanders rises in national polls

  • John P. Gregg. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/19/2020 10:03:13 PM
Modified: 2/19/2020 10:07:16 PM

Going into Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., saw some good numbers in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that found he had “surged” into the lead in national polls.

Among Democratic-leaning adults around the country, Sanders, who narrowly won last week’s New Hampshire primary, had 32% support, almost double the 17% registered by former Vice President Joe Biden. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg had jumped up to 14% from a Post-ABC poll a month ago, while U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., stayed flat at 11%.

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a top finisher along with Sanders in both Iowa and New Hampshire, clocked just 7% support, indicating he has more work to do on name recognition and introducing himself to voters. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who finished a strong third in New Hampshire, saw her support double from 3% to 6%, but was still well below the top tier.

Sanders’ strong support for universal health coverage through a Medicare for All program could still present problems unless he sells it better. The poll found 52% of all respondents opposed replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan.

On the Vermont front

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but Sanders was also polling well in his home state of Vermont, where voters go to the polls on March 3 — or in early voting now — as part of Super Tuesday.

A VPR-Vermont PBS poll released this week showed Sanders with 51% support among likely Democratic primary voters in Vermont, compared with 13% for Buttigieg, 9% for Warren, 7% for Bloomberg, 5% for Biden and 4% for Klobuchar. The question had a margin of error of 5.4%

President Donald Trump was cruising among Republicans with 85% support, while former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had 6% support.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who faces both a primary challenge and from Democrats in November if he runs for re-election, enjoyed a 57% approval rating, and actually scored slightly higher among Democrats than Republicans. Scott angered some Republicans when he signed gun-control legislation in 2018, and also is no fan of Trump, saying recently he plans to vote for Weld in the primary.

At the same time, the poll found strong support for two measures Scott has vetoed, a paid family leave plan relying on new taxes, and raising Vermont’s minimum wage to $12.55.

Stirring the pot?

Dartmouth College Republicans took to social media early Tuesday evening asserting that “threats of violence” from left-wing activists forced them to cancel an immigration speech by New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Corky Messner.

And Messner himself posted a video in which he says, “The College Democrats and the leftists were threatening violence against (Republicans) and me if we had the speaking engagement.”

“I think it’s a very sad and unfortunate situation that the Dartmouth College Republicans felt like they had to cancel my event for safety reasons and that the Dartmouth administration would not give them any assistance so that they could have the event,” he said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Sounds troubling for anyone concerned about free speech on campus, but that’s not quite how it went down.

Activists were planning to protest Messner’s speech because he linked immigration with the opioid crisis with the title of the talk — “Building a Wall Against Drugs: The Need for Border Security to End the Opioid Crisis” — but dissent and protests are allowed at Dartmouth, as long as the free speech rights of others, including guest speakers themselves, are also respected.

As for actual threats of violence, you be the judge. Messner’s campaign forwarded a copy of a tweet from someone with the handle “lopsided afro boy” that read, in part, “I say dartmouth twitter should band together and jump the college republicans for that email/event. I’m sure none of them can fight so.”

And Griffin Mackey, speaking for the Dartmouth Republicans leadership, said, “the now former head of the Dartmouth College Republicans informed some members of the leadership of what he regarded as credible and tangible threats made to him in person over the last few days.”

Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said the college was not aware of any cause for concern.

“Dartmouth Safety and Security received a complaint from a student about threats of violence, investigated, and found no credible threat,” she said via email.

As to Messner’s assertion that Dartmouth was uncooperative in helping Republicans hold the event, Lawrence said Dartmouth had arranged on short notice “to have two members of the student affairs community to be present at the event to make sure it was held in accordance with our freedom of expression and dissent policy, made certain that a Safety and Security officer would be available, and notified Hanover police as a precaution.”

Dartmouth Democrats said via Twitter that they had “no knowledge of threats of violence against Mr. Messner or the Dartmouth College Republicans, and under no circumstances would we condone any. We condemn the racist rhetoric propagated by the event, and support the right to free speech by all parties involved, including those who were planning peaceful protests.”

Messner, a former Army Ranger and corporate lawyer in Colorado, he said he plans to return to Dartmouth as early as next week to give the talk.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.




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