By Tank Murdoch

(TNS) As Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to rise in the polls ahead of this week’s Iowa caucuses, it’s become clearer that the Democratic Party establishment legitimately fears he could walk away with the nomination.

That fear became clearer in a report from The Guardian on Friday.

In interviews with insiders and former officeholders, the Trump reelection campaign’s vast monetary advantage, coupled with the RNC’s war chest the economic and political winds at the president’s back, and the potential for a long, protracted, and expensive primary fight, its clear Democrats are concerned:

Donald Trump has a huge campaign war chest and a vast, aggressive digital operation. And the US economy has shown stubborn resilience throughout the president’s three years in office, keeping unemployment levels low and stock markets high.

But as they seek to oust Trump in 2020’s election what most worries many top Democrats is what’s shaping up in their own party: an extended Democratic primary resulting in a fractured party struggling to rally around the eventual nominee.

That’s the overall sentiment of Democrats based on interviews with over a dozen senior party figures – including ex-mayors and former governors – and top strategists during a chaotic month in the Democratic primary leading up to the Iowa caucuses.

Recent polling has shown the progressive senator Bernie Sanders surging in Iowa, to the chagrin of centrist Democratic leaders who hoped a candidate like former vice-president Joe Biden or even the young and charismatic former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg might score an early win.

Even though the field has now shrunk from two dozen candidates, Democrats are increasingly expecting a drawn-out primary with deep-pocketed frontrunners bashing each other and long-shot candidates refusing to drop out, further splintering the vote and leaving scars that will last in the general election.

“I think this is going to be a longer, more protracted primary fight and we’re going to have certainly weeks, if not months where we’ll be doing our primary and we won’t be talking to swing voters in, say, Tampa Bay,” warned Florida-based Democratic strategist Scott Arceneaux.

Some Democrats, like former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the long-time party grifter and bag man, remain “bullish” on the party’s chances to knock off President Trump this fall. But they appear to be in the minority, as The Guardian reports:

The almost universal sentiment shared by those the Guardian spoke to is that Democrats could also be in the process of shooting themselves in the foot.

“The most important thing for people reading to come away with is that we can lose this election,” said a top adviser for a former 2020 Democratic candidate.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton continues to play her role in spoiling Sanders’ chances of winning the nomination — again.

As reported by Fox News, Clinton lamented in a podcast interview what Sanders is “divisive,” implying that he should once more do the right thing and simply bow out.

“Unfortunately his campaign and his principal supporters were just very difficult and — really, constantly — not just attacking me but my supporters,” Clinton told Emily Tisch Sussman on the podcast “Your Primary Playlist,” complaining that Sanders and his people didn’t do enough to support her in 2016 after the DNC fixed the primaries for her.

“All the way up until the end, a lot of people highly identified with his campaign were urging people to vote third party, urging people not to vote,” she said.

She called it a contrast to how Democrats united after her loss to then Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 primary, when she said she did 100 events for the eventual president, Fox News reported.

“That cannot happen again,” she added. “I don’t care who the nominee is. I don’t care. As long as it’s somebody who can win, and as long as it’s somebody who understands politics is the art of addition, not subtraction.”

In reality, as The New Yorker reported in November 2016, Sanders spent weeks on the campaign trail with Clinton and on his own stumping for her.

So Clinton is revising history, which isn’t new. But neither is her obvious disdain for Sanders.

What’s clear is that Democrats are convinced they’re going to have a tough time beating Trump even with their preferred candidate, Joe Biden, who is having is own troubles with corruption allegations. And they are pulling out all of the stops short of publicly demanding Sanders quit the race to sideline him.

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