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Another Poll Shows Bernie Beating Hillary

Politics

If you watched the first GOP primary debate or listened to many of the pundits this campaign season, Hillary Clinton has been the presumed Democratic presidential nominee from the get-go. Bernie Sanders is being called the dark horse candidate and the media has given him the short shrift, even though he has turned out record crowds at rallies all across the country. However, another poll in New Hampshire this month reveals that Sanders has overtaken Clinton as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in that state. The poll shows Sanders leading 42 to 35 percent.

Rather unsurprisingly, Sanders has a 26-point lead over Clinton among younger voters between the ages of 18 and 45. And even a 10-point lead among those 46 and older.

But the polls do reveal some very surprising facts. More women hold a favorable view of Sanders than of Clinton, who, if elected, would be the first female president in the nation's history.

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And what's more, Sanders is even polling stronger among moderates.

It's important to note it's still early and there is much media speculation about a Biden run. Polls out of Iowa show Clinton is still leading in that state, but Sanders is gaining on her. Current polling puts Clinton at 37 percent and Sanders at 30. Still though, nobody can deny Sanders' growing popularity. He has drawn more than 100,000 people to recent rallies. And many have already speculated as to why Sanders is gaining ground on Clinton. Certainly, Sanders' opposition to economic inequality, a belief in the need for a livable wage and his promotion of universal healthcare are all part of his mass appeal. And Clinton's ongoing email scandal is certainly not helping her. But one explanation for the "Sanders surge" lies in how the candidates differ on environmental issues.

Sanders has been hailed as a climate warrior and has taken a strong stance against the Keystone XL, while Clinton has failed to take a position on the controversial pipeline. However, Clinton has called climate change "one of the defining threats of our time," pledged to have every home powered by renewables by 2027 and most recently announced her opposition to drilling in the Arctic.

Still, despite the rhetoric, many including Bill McKibben feel that "climate change feels like a late add-on" for Clinton rather than a core issue for her. Several pundits have accused Clinton, a longtime centrist, of "moving to the left" and adopting many of Sanders' positions to contend with the self-described "democratic socialist." In contrast, Sanders has spent his time in the Senate as a champion of climate issues.

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An alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, as seen here in Christmas Valley, South Lake Tahoe, California on Feb. 15, 2020. jcookfisher / CC BY 2.0

California is headed toward drought conditions as February, typically the state's wettest month, passes without a drop of rain. The lack of rainfall could lead to early fire conditions. With no rain predicted for the next week, it looks as if this month will be only the second time in 170 years that San Francisco has not had a drop of rain in February, according to The Weather Channel.

The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.

"This hasn't happened in 150 years or more," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to The Guardian. "There have even been a couple [of] wildfires – which is definitely not something you typically hear about in the middle of winter."

While the Pacific Northwest has flooded from heavy rains, the southern part of the West Coast has seen one storm after another pass by. Last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor said more Californians are in drought conditions than at any time during 2019, as The Weather Channel reported.

On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor said nearly 60 percent of the state was abnormally dry, up from 46 percent just last week, according to The Mercury News in San Jose.

The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.

"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.

Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.

"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.

NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.

As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.

"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.

The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.

"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."

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