Americans Maintain a Positive View of Bernie Sanders

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Bernie Sanders is still viewed favorably by a small majority of Americans (53%) as he continues to be arguably the most prominent advocate for progressive policies in the U.S.

Line graph showing Sanders’ favorability since March 2015 among all adults.

Sanders’ name recognition was fairly low a month before he announced his run for president in 2015 — 76% of Americans had no opinion of him or had never heard of him. But today, that figure is down to 9%.

In the more than three years Gallup has tracked Sanders’ favorability, his favorable ratings have consistently outweighed his unfavorable ones — only twice were they tied. Since February 2016, shortly after Sanders’ victory in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, his positive ratings began regularly outpacing his negative ratings by double digits, and majorities of Americans have viewed him favorably since June 2016.

In Gallup’s most recent poll, conducted Sept. 4-12, Sanders has a much more favorable image than either of the other major contenders in the 2016 presidential election — Hillary Clinton (36%) and President Donald Trump (41%).

Since the election, Sanders has gone on to use his political pulpit to champion progressive causes, including calling on McDonald’s and Amazon to raise their minimum wages to $15, pushing for procedural changes in the Democratic Party’s nomination process, introducing a bill to break up large banks and continuing to push for “Medicare for all” healthcare legislation.

After Sanders’ advocacy of progressive views on the campaign trail and in the two years since, Gallup recently found that Democrats now view socialism more favorably than they do capitalism. However, given Republicans’ low positive ratings of socialism, Americans overall remain negative in their views of socialism.

Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats, is most popular among Democrats (78%), as would be expected, but a majority of independents (54%) also view him favorably. Meanwhile, more than twice as many Republicans view him unfavorably (69%) as favorably (26%).

Sanders’ ratings are mixed among whites, with nearly half viewing him favorably and half unfavorably. But, consistent with their more Democratic political orientation, nearly two in three nonwhites (64%) have a positive view of Sanders.

Majorities of U.S. adults aged 18 to 34 (59%) and 35 to 54 (58%) view Sanders favorably, while his image is about mixed among Americans over the age of 55.

Sanders’ Favorable Ratings, by Group
Favorable Unfavorable No opinion
% % %
National adults 53 38 9
Republicans 26 69 5
Independents 54 35 12
Democrats 78 14 7
Whites 49 46 5
Nonwhites 64 21 15
18 to 34 59 33 8
35 to 54 58 32 10
55 and older 45 47 8
GALLUP, SEPT. 4-12, 2018

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