FeeltheBern: A Look at Bernie Sanders and His Sizable Crowds

Bernie Sanders is pulling in noticeably large audiences across the country.

August 12, 2015, 4:11 PM

— -- The number of people who believe Hillary Clinton is trustworthy continues to be on the decline in polls, but she may also have a problem on her left. Bernie Sanders is pulling sizable, enthusiastic crowds, in what his supporters are calling #Bernmentum.

Huge crowds in majority-Democratic areas do not guarantee support in the early states (ask “President Dean”), but Sanders’ relatively large audiences are impossible to ignore. In recent weeks — particularly on a recent campaign swing that included Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle — he pulled more than 100,000 people combined to his rallies. And one of those packed events was in Arizona, a red state.

Here’s a look at the numbers:

27,500 in Los Angeles, Aug. 10

28,000 in Portland, Ore., Aug. 9

15,000 in Seattle, Aug. 8

4,500 in New Orleans, July 26

8,000 in Dallas, July 19

11,000 in Phoenix, July 18

7,500 in Portland, Maine July 6

10,000 in Madison, Wisconsin, July 1

Most of the numbers are from the Sanders campaign and they cite local officials. Other figures are impossible to verify, but it’s hard to argue that the self-described Democratic socialist hasn’t hit a nerve.

Sanders, 73, is attracting more people than any other candidate in the race, by far. The largest crowd Clinton has pulled is 5,500 and that was at her New York City announcement on Roosevelt Island in June.

How is he pulling these huge crowds? The Washington Post has a good look today on how word is spreading on social media, word of mouth, and even some celebrity backers have helped. Comedian Sarah Silverman introduced Sanders at his Los Angeles event and tweeted about the event and her support beforehand. Sanders has other celebrities pledging support and spreading the word, including Danny DeVito and Mark Ruffalo.

Polling in the first primary state of New Hampshire does seem to show Clinton’s lead shrinking. A new poll from the Boston Herald-Franklin Pierce University shows Sanders actually toppling Clinton by seven points, 44 percent to 37 percent, but this is the only survey that shows that kind of lead.

A WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll released Aug. 4 showed Clinton leading Sanders by six points, 42 percent to 36 percent. That's down from another poll by NBC News/Marist, on July 26, that showed Clinton leading Sanders by 13 points, 47 percent to 34 percent.

And what about online? As for how well Sanders was doing against Clinton on Twitter, both names had a similar footprint. In the past seven days, there have been 308,000 mentions for Clinton and 270,000 for Sanders. But there's no way to tell how many of any of those mentions are positive or negative.

Obama got big crowds, too, right? Yes, in 2007 after his announcement, then-Sen. Barack Obama was pulling in crowds that got up to 20,000 people, but they dropped in the summer of 2007, growing bigger again in the fall and winter where the crowds got up to 30,000 people when he rallied with Oprah Winfrey in December of 2007.

So, is Clinton worried? She isn’t acting like it. She never mentions her Democratic rivals on the trail, instead focusing all her firepower on her GOP opponents like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker. They, too, are also completely focused on Clinton. On Tuesday, Walker, the Wisconsin governor, even said he admired Sanders … kind of:

“I will give a hat tip to Sen. Bernie Sanders, not for the reasons you expect, but I at least give him credit for saying what he is: That he’s a socialist,” Walker said. “He actually proudly proclaims it and embraces it. If you look at some of the policies that Hillary Clinton is talking about, they just run dangerously close to that. She’s just not calling it like it is.”

ABC News' Jordyn Phelps, Lindsay Brown and Dennis Powell contributed to this report.

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