Editors' Pick: Originally published Jan. 26.
Interviewing a roomful of undeclared voters recently, Neil Levesque, executive director of Saint Anselm College's New Hampshire Institute of Politics, asked which presidential candidate they were most likely to support when the state holds the country's first primary in two weeks.
The majority of these New Hampshire voters, he said in a phone interview from Manchester, cited the Republican real estate developer, Donald Trump. Their second choice? Bernie Sanders, the self-styled social democratic senator from Vermont.
"These two people have completely different views on every issue, so why are they your first and second choice," Levesque asked rhetorically. "And they will tell you, because they're not the same old thing, they're going to break up the system, they're outsiders -- we're sick of the same old political stuff."
Levesque's focus group reflects the national mood. According to a CNN/ORC survey released late last month, about 75% of U.S. adults said they were dissatisfied with national leadership while 69% said they were at least "somewhat angry" with the country's direction.
For Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, U.S. senator and high-profile first lady, getting heard above that din of voter rage has been challenging -- and not for lack of trying. Even before Sanders began to rise in the polls, Clinton had made a concerted effort to appeal to the party's progressives.
She's called for comprehensive immigration reform and tougher gun laws, raising the minimum wage to $12 (though Sanders is pushing for $15), widening regulations on hedge funds, increasing taxes on the wealthiest and opposing the Keystone XL pipeline while supporting renewable energy development to deal with climate change.