For months, Donald Trump has been preparing for a presumed general election matchup with Democrat Hillary Clinton. But with the former secretary of state sagging in Iowa and New Hampshire, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders increasingly is looking like a plausible nominee.
And the self-described Democratic socialist may actually prove to be the more formidable opponent in the general election, political reporter Mike Allen said on the “Laura Ingraham Show” on Wednesday.
Trump might not be as ready to face the raging Leftist who swings for the fences — and doesn’t care who’s in the way — just like Trump does.
“If you have a Trump-Hillary matchup, he’s been practicing for that,” said Allen, chief White House correspondent for Politico. “They’ve both been running against each other for a while.”
Hypothetical head-to-head match-ups in polls do not suggest Clinton would be more electable than Sanders. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average of recent polls, Clinton beats Trump 45.3 percent to 42.8 percent. Sanders has a wider 46.8 percent to 41.5 percent advantage. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has a 1.6-point lead over Clinton but trails Sanders 45 percent to 41.7 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio edges Sanders by a percentage point but beats Clinton 46.4 percent to 44.2 percent.
Allen said that until recently, nearly all political analysts would have said that Clinton would be the “prohibitive favorite” against Trump.
“We’re starting to see now an argument from the Trump side that there’s more of a path than you might think,” he said, pointing to the businessman’s belief that he can broaden the electorate by turning out people who do not normally vote. “So there’s not the sort of wipeout there that people might have assumed.”
A contest between Sanders and Trump would be harder to forecast, Allen said. The “totally outside-the-box candidates” both appeal to the populist strains gaining steam in American politics, he noted. Both have decried the influence of big money in politics. Both are attracting large crowds.
“Sanders-Trump? That would be great for all of us,” he said. “That would be great to cover. Because you have two people who aren’t predictable.”
Ingraham suggested Clinton would be an easier foil for Trump. It might be harder for Trump to make the contrast with Sanders.
“The two of them against each other, that’s harder for Trump,” she said. “It’s a much heavier lift against Bernie Sanders for Trump than it is Hillary.”
Trump and Sanders are both anti-Establishment candidates, giving Trump less material to work with. Trump would lose all kinds of Hillary Clinton baggage to kick around, such as her speaking fees from Goldman Sachs and many others, her email scandal, and the sexual predations of her husband Bill.