It's just so obvious.
A recent CNN poll shows Sanders can beat the possible Republican nominees; and mind you, that's with Sanders not having full name-recognition yet (as in, 41 percent of respondents said they didn't know who he was).
But you can put it really simply.
- The Democratic base is about as excited about Clinton as the Republican base was about Romney (there, I said it); and Democrats are already much, much less inspired about the election than Republicans;
- Clinton is so reviled by the Right (almost entirely unfairly, but still), that they will come out in droves to oppose her. It's not hard to see that that plays a role in Republicans being so much more excited about the election; they, like so many, are assuming Clinton will be the nominee, and they can't wait to vote against her.
- Sanders speaks to, inspires and motivates people all over the political map -- not just the "far Left" as the simple-minded, when-you're-a-hammer-everything-looks-like-a-sickle-wielding-socialist media would have us believe.
- Sanders is inspiring people to register to vote who have not registered before, and engaging millennials (only 20 percent of whom voted in 2014) in huge numbers.
Beltway insiders do not know how to talk about Sanders; all of the rules they use to frame their conversations don't apply. It really shows just how lazy and formulaic political coverage has become -- how out of touch with real people. I'm reminded of Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. According to Kuhn, scientists will brush off data that call into question accepted theories (and they do that because they have a lot invested in those theories -- published work, research grants, tenure).
Eventually, though, enough information comes in that challenges the established way of looking at things that a crisis point is reached; the inadequacies of the previous way of understanding become impossible to ignore any longer. Then a scientific revolution takes place and a new way of understanding is embraced -- a new paradigm. (The classic example is the topic of Kuhn's book The Copernican Revolution, which chronicles the shift away from believing that the Earth was the center of the universe... Hmmm.)
You can see that crisis of understanding taking place in American politics, and it applies to those who cover it just as much as it applies to the elected officials they cover. They all seem to be saying, "how can this guy be doing so well? Everything we know about politics tells us he can't."
Maybe they should start paying attention to what is really going on with Sanders -- and perhaps exercise a few brain cells to come up with a new insight or two. Instead, they try to ignore him, or play the same games they usually do with candidates -- who, truth be told, are so afraid themselves of offending the press that they play right along.
Sanders, of course, will have none of it, as his Sunday appearance on Meet the Press amply shows. Chuck Todd tried to play the oversimplified, sensationalist hand he'd carefully constructed and Sanders owned him. This is part of why Sanders appeals; it's not just that he's disrupting the dysfunctional, sleazy, corrupted political game for the people who play it, he's deconstructing political coverage at the same time. It's truly a joy to watch; and it's an edge he has over every other candidate.
The message to those inside the beltway is simple: there's a new paradigm in town. So get with the revolution, already.