• As moderate Democrats push against Sen. Sanders, progressives are rallying
  • A coalition called "People Power for Bernie" will aim to grow youth support for Sanders
  • Sanders is currently leading in Iowa polling

Since Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., began to enjoy a surge in the contest for Democratic presidential nominee late last year, moderates in the party have been fretting over the possibility that he could ultimately come out on top. Now that some moderate Democrat groups have begun attacking Sanders, what they feared is coming to pass: Progressives are increasingly rallying behind the senator.

A group named Democratic Majority for Israel, a pro-Israel PAC, began its advertisement campaign in Iowa this week, spending nearly $700,000. The advertisements aim to discourage support for Sanders by citing concerns about the senator’s health and by arguing that he won’t be able to win in a race against President Donald Trump.

Moderate Democrats had been recently debating the value of potentially attacking Sanders’ campaign, but worried that doing so would prove to have the opposite effect, spurring a backlash from progressives. As it turns out, those concerns were well founded.

According to NBC News, an independent coalition of nine progressive groups has announced a new joint campaign dubbed “People Power for Bernie” that aims to encourage young voters to turn out for Sanders in the primaries. Groups included in the coalition are the Democratic Socialists of America, the Center for Popular Democracy Action, the Sunrise Movement and Our Revolution.

The joint effort will not be allowed to coordinate with Sanders’ campaign and will operate entirely independently. Although Our Revolution was once a part of Sanders’ 2016 campaign, it has since spun off and become a separate entity. The various groups will cooperate on outreach campaigns and pool their resources, but it is not yet known how much funding the coalition will have.

The political director for the Center for Popular Democracy Action, Natalia Salgado, said the coalition “is the political revolution in action” that “will ensure that Sanders becomes our nominee.”

On Monday, Iowa will be the first state in the nation to caucus for the Democratic Party. Polls have shown Sanders overtaking former Vice President Joe Biden in the state, but Sanders’ victory is not guaranteed. Although Sanders has been confined largely to the Hill in Washington, D.C., in order to participate in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has been stumping for the senator in Iowa.

Bernie Sanders
In this photo, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses the crowd during a campaign rally at the Big Four Lawn park in Louisville, Kentucky, May 3, 2016. Getty Images/ John Sommers II