Clinton's no shoo-in for the Democratic presidential nomination...just ask Kevin
Published 14/05/2016 | 02:30
Citing the opinion of Kevin, the chap who installed our woodstove, may not meet the exacting standards of polling organisations like Gallup or Quinnipiac University. But the views of one blue-collar New England voter are nevertheless interesting.
In 2008, he backed John McCain; in 2012, he didn't even vote. Given the choices on offer this time round, he would plump for Bernie Sanders.
This may be the flimsiest straw in the wind, but it is confirming what a raft of polls is showing: in a straight fight with Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders is performing far better than Mrs Clinton.
Ominously, a poll in West Virginia showed that nearly half the voters who backed Bernie Sanders in the primary would back Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton in November.
Throw in the latest batch of polls from the big swing states and we are getting into interesting territory. In Ohio, for example, Quinnipiac has Mr Trump leading Mrs Clinton by four points, but trailing Mr Sanders by two.
In Pennsylvania, Mrs Clinton has a one-point lead over Mr Trump, according to Quinnipiac, while Mr Sanders is a rather healthier five points ahead.
The PPP poll puts Mrs Clinton six points ahead of Mr Trump across the country as a whole and Mr Sanders a whopping 11 points.
Surely suggesting that the Democrats should go with a self-declared socialist from a small New England state against a well-funded, slick, experienced candidate is madness?
Historical precedent suggests that left-wing candidates have not done well in other presidential elections. Henry Wallace - who was after all FDR's running mate in 1940 - finished in a humiliating fourth place when he stood as an independent in 1948.
George McGovern, the last truly Left-wing candidate, was trounced by the establishment candidate, Richard Nixon - it was the second biggest landslide in American political history.
But this is clearly not an ordinary election. From the outset, it is the two political outsiders, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, who have generated excitement and attracted huge crowds to their rallies.
Their success reflects a global trend of distaste for conventional politics which has seen the triumph of the left in Greece and Jeremy Corbyn win the Labour leadership in the UK, while in France and Germany, hard-right anti-immigration parties are winning massive support.
Added to the general disenchantment with the "political establishment", there are some factors which are unique to the US.
For different reasons, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have alienated a huge swathe of voters in a way that Mr Sanders has not. For all the support Mr Trump has gathered from white, blue-collar male voters, he is not only loathed by the Republican establishment and many big donors but also polls badly among women.
What can stop Trump becoming US President?
Mrs Clinton, who one assumes will get the nomination, is mistrusted over Benghazi. Her links to Wall Street - which by all accounts will support her with cheque books rather than Mr Trump - has upset left-wing voters, some of whom are saying they may stay at home in November.
The lesson has not been lost on Mr Trump. While he has poured vitriol on both his Republican rivals and Mrs Clinton, the tone has been very different towards Mr Sanders.
At one rally, he said: "Whether it's me or Bernie Sanders, when I look at it, and I see all these victories that I have, all these victories that he's got, then you look at the establishment, and I want to tell you it's a corrupt deal going on in this country, and it's not good. It's not good."
In the last batch of interviews, Mr Trump even hinted that he believed wages should go up and that the rich - including himself - should pay more in tax.
Given Mr Trump's tendency to shoot from the hip, it is hard to tell whether it was a subtle shift to the left or just a case of saying what he felt like at the time.
Assuming it is deliberate, it is a shrewd move and a hint of how he believes that Mrs Clinton's blue-collar base might not be as solid as she believes.
As things stand, Mrs Clinton should secure the nomination, especially given that she has the overwhelming backing of the so-called super delegates.
But as the race for the party's presidential nomination enters its final lap, Democrats might wish to reflect on the polls and the views of Kevin, the stove fitter. (© Daily Telegraph London)