Are conservatives beginning to feel the Bern, too? Indeed they are, but not in the way that progressive populists have in flocking to Bernie Sanders’ banner. Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reports that a key GOP oppo-research group has begun catching up to Sanders’ track record with a flurry of FOIA requests this week, targeting Sanders’ e-mail and other correspondence:

A Republican opposition research firm is increasing its efforts to dig up dirt on Bernie Sanders after his victory over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

America Rising sent a batch of routine Freedom of Information Act requests this week asking for correspondence between Sanders’ Senate office and federal government departments. The group had also submitted some requests for Sanders last month.

Typically, such requests are sent years before the presidential race due to the lengthy FOIA process. A review of FOIA logs with federal agencies shows America Rising looking into Clinton years before the election due to her status as the presumptive nominee.

America Rising assigned itself a fairly broad mandate in federal elections when launched in early 2013. Their efforts contributed to a big win for Republicans in the 2014 midterms by generating plenty of material for attack advertising and criticism of Democratic candidates. It’s fair to say that since that cycle, AR’s focus has been more on the presidential campaign, and in that almost entirely on Hillary Clinton. A quick look at their YouTube channel shows that while they have occasionally highlighted other Democrats, the vast majority of their work has taken aim at Hillary.

After watching Sanders take Hillary down to a tie in Iowa and thump her in New Hampshire by 22 points, the folks at AR have to at least start performing due diligence. In fact, given the precarious legal situation Hillary faces with an FBI investigation that appears to be broadening rather than winding down, this would be simply good preparation even if she had won both states by wide margins. As it is, though, Hillary’s bid for the nomination has begun to look shaky — and a new poll in Nevada is only making that more apparent. Jon Ralston breaks it down:

The survey, paid for by the conservative Free Beacon, shows a 45-45 tie. It was conducted by TargetPoint of 1,236 potential Nevada caucusgoers from Feb. 8-10, with a margin of error just under 3 percent. That’s a lot of interviews — “867 interviews were completed using automated telephone technology and 369 were conducted using mobile phones,” according to the polling instrument, which I have posted below along with the crosstabs. …

►Clinton loses on trust, 53-29; on who cares about people like you, 49-36; and who is progressive, 49-36. Danger, Will Robinson!

►The sample is almost 60 percent female (about what it as in ’08), which ought to worry Clinton. Sanders leads 63-16 among young voters (18-29), and if there are a lot of youngsters who register on Caucus Day…. She’s also losing among independents, as the Free Beacon reported.

Team Hillary had begun downscaling expectations for the Nevada caucus after Iowa, and now it’s clear why.

There’s another good reason to start focusing more on Bernie Sanders, and it’s not just because Sanders might end up with the nomination. Conservatives need to take on what Glenn Reynolds calls “the siren call of socialism,” and the sooner the better:

And socialism does have a siren call — essentially, the promise that if you vote for socialists, they’ll take stuff away from other people and give it to you. Since many people would rather have free stuff given to them in the name of “fairness” than have to work to get their own stuff, it’s never hard to round up votes with that approach. As the saying goes, a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can count on getting Paul’s vote. …

But there’s some good news, according to Silver: Even though young Americans say they like socialism, they also say that they don’t like redistribution of wealth. Writes Silver: “It’s possible that Sanders will trigger a shift toward more support for economic redistribution in the future, but there hasn’t been one yet.” The percentage of young Americans who support redistributing wealth is almost the same as it was in 1996.

So since you can’t have socialism without redistribution of wealth (with a large part being retained by the redistributors, of course) then what’s this all about? Silver notes that those young Americans supporting Bernie Sanders have a lot in common with the young Americans who support another older figure with heterodox economic views, libertarian Ron Paul: “What’s distinctive about both the Sanders and Ron Paul coalitions is that they consist mostly of people who do not feel fully at home in the two-party system but are not part of historically underprivileged groups.[“] …

So at this point, the enthusiasm for Sanders may be as much a search for something different as it is an endorsement of Sanders’ 1930s-era economic views. Given the failure of the two party establishments, it’s not entirely surprising that young people are looking elsewhere. Their votes are up for grabs, for those who are willing and able to offer something different. For the sake of the country, let’s hope those votes are won by people who are able to offer something different, and constructive, at the same time.

We’re paying the price for decades of poor education, especially on economics and civics. It might be amusing to conservatives to see Hillary Clinton’s ambitions get swallowed up as a consequence, but the danger of this wildfire of historical and economic ignorance is too broad to let go unchecked. If nothing else, the Right has to start answering the fallacies and fantasies that Sanders has spun and start going after him as well as Hillary.