A little-noticed data point in the new Selzer & Co. Iowa poll, in fact, shows that 43 percent of likely voters in the Feb. 1 caucuses say they would use the word "socialist" to describe themselves.
And to be very clear, this question was not whether they would vote for a socialist or sympathize with socialism; it's whether they consider themselves socialist.
The 43 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers who self-identify as socialist is actually more than the number who identify themselves as capitalist — 38 percent.
As our own Dan Balz notes, Sanders does better among self-described socialists — though he doesn't quite have a monopoly on them. Balz writes that socialists account for "58 percent of Sanders’s supporters and about a third of Clinton’s."
There isn't great polling on how many Americans overall consider themselves socialists, but a Gallup poll in June showed that just 47 percent of Americans would even be willing to vote for a socialist candidate. Among Democrats, that number was 59 percent.
More recently, a November New York Times/CBS News poll showed 56 percent of Democratic primary voters nationally said they had a positive view of socialism.
And that's not the only identifier that suggests a friendly electorate for Sanders. Forty-four percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers say they consider themselves "anti-Wall Street." Again, these are voters over whom Sanders has no monopoly, but he does have a leg up on Clinton, a more Wall Street-aligned former senator from New York.
Here are all the labels the Selzer poll, conducted for Bloomberg and the Des Moines Register, asked likely Democratic caucus-goers about:
Those 43 and 44 numbers, notably, aren't majorities. And given the dynamics of the Democratic primary, the winner of the caucuses will probably have to get around half of the vote (assuming Martin O'Malley doesn't surge at the last minute).
But they do get Sanders a good portion of the way there. And they suggest victory is very attainable for him — in case the recent polls showing him leading Clinton by five points and trailing her by two didn't already do the trick.