Ever the insurgent, Sanders is spending his final days on the trail in Iowa predicting a win here and beyond. He has boasted of his “excellent” chances in the first-in-the-nation caucuses on Monday and already predicted a win in delegate-rich California in March. The Vermont senator is openly delighting on the stump as he is increasingly being talked about as the candidate to beat, at least for now.
“You can tell how good I feel by how nervous the establishment is getting,” Sanders told cheering supporters at a downtown auditorium in Sioux City, on Iowa’s border with Nebraska, on Sunday. “We’re their worst nightmare.”
Sanders’ confidence isn’t necessarily backed up by polling — which shows the same jumble of Democrats at the top in Iowa that have been there for months. But the Vermont senator has other reasons to hype his standing ahead of the first votes. His path to the nomination hinges on high turnout — particularly among young and new caucusgoers. That high turnout may depend on convincing those people that he’s got a better chance of toppling the establishment his second time seeking the presidency.
“It’s smarter politics always to moderate expectations, but I think that Sanders is playing a different game because his core support is going to be there for him no matter what,” said Zac Petkanas, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid.