Sanders' loud campaigning in New York doesn’t outshine quiet Clinton, experts say
In just the last two weeks, Sen. Bernie Sanders has held rallies – featuring celebrities and live bands – in almost every borough.
Trying to win over the heart of the Big Apple, the two Democratic presidential candidates are taking two very different approaches to winning over voters – one big while the other more low-key.
On Wednesday night Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke in front of an estimated 27,000 people at a rally in Washington Square Park, which included a performance by Vampire Weekend and a speech by Rosario Dawson.
New Yorkers flooded the streets hours before the rally just to get a chance to “feel the Bern.” Sanders previously rallied up supporters all across the city including in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Harlem. And he doesn’t plan on stopping yet, as two more rallies are scheduled in the upcoming days – one in Brooklyn and the other in Queens.
And although Sanders has taken a more large and “extravagant” approach to his campaigning in the city, his competitor, Hillary Clinton, has decided to keep her campaigning to more low-key approach such as holding meet and greets with local residents in Queens and speaking at conferences such as Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
According to David Birdsell, dean of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs, both candidates are sticking to the forms of campaigning that they know best and showcase their views.
“Each candidate is using the kinds of campaign styles that are most adaptive to his and her strengths as candidates and a policy makers and thinkers,” Birdsell said.
He adds that rallies tend to be overwhelmingly attended by millenials and through gathering up the masses, Sanders is able to get his message across on “overturning the status quo” – and mainly attempting to change the minds of registered democrats.
“He’s sort of putting the loudest, noisiest, brightest object out there and hoping someone picks it up,” Birdsell said.
And although the crowds are bigger and louder at Sanders’ rallies, Birdsell says it doesn’t make Clinton a weaker candidate because rallying has never been a big thing for her but instead tries to have voters speak to her.
"Clinton has never been a big rally candidate," he said. "She made it about people talking to her instead of her talking to people."
According to The Wall Street Journal, a recent poll finds that Clinton leads Sanders by 17 percent in New York.
“Rallies aren’t necessarily an indication of what happens on Election Day,” he said. “But they are good ways to attract attention.”
For Michael Krasner, a political science professor at Queens College and co-director of the Taft Institute for Government, Clinton’s low-key campaign in New York is an indication that both her and her team are confident of a win next week.
“She thinks and her team thinks she is playing with the home court advantage,” Krasner said. “I think what they are feeling is that they don’t need to be doing extravaganza rallies, they are doing fine as it is plus that’s not really her strength.”
He added that he believes Clinton is smart to not try to compete directly by trying to stage similar events and finds that Sanders has “touched a nerve in the American public” with his form of campaigning.
“It’s a way to reach undecided people,” Krasner said about Sanders’ rallies. “It’s really meant to excite people and touch them in a number of ways.”
And although he suggests that Clinton could do more events in New York, instead of leaving the state before the election next week, Krasner does not believe it is going to hurt her much.
According to Krasner, the advantage Clinton has over Sanders is “everybody knows her already.”
“It’s not like she has to make herself known, [Sanders] still has to make himself known,” he said. “It’s much more important for him to be maximizing his presence.”
One advice that Krasner does say he has for both candidates is that he believes they should both plant their feet in New York – whether in the city or upstate – until next Tuesday, citing Sanders’ expected trip to the Vatican.
“This is really make or break for [Sanders],” Krasner said. “If he loses New York it becomes pretty much impossible, so this is really for all the marbles.”