Of all Presidential candidates of both parties running in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, Bernie Sanders is they only one that is generating any real enthusiasm, according to International Business Times. A recent poll by NBC News shows that 30 percent of voters surveyed view Sanders favorably, while 27 percent do not – giving him a positive favorability rating of +3. At the same time, a recent Gallup poll shows that Sanders’ stock with voters is on the rise, while Clinton’s is falling. Since March, Sanders’ favorability has doubled – and the number of voters supporting him outnumber his detractors.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who can claim that honor. Fifty-six percent of voters surveyed view Hillary Clinton unfavorably as opposed to 37 percent who would support her – giving her a negative favorability rating of  -19. Among Republicans, Rubio and Walker supporters are almost evenly divided, with negative favorability ratings of -1.  Jeb Bush does slightly better than Clinton at -12, while Donald Trump is at the bottom of the heap with a rating of -28.

According to another Gallup poll, GOP candidates have better name recognition among Republican voters – but they’re not particularly liked. On the other hand, the more that people learn about Sanders, the more they like him and what he has to say.

So…what does this mean and what does it portend for the coming election? At this point, not a great deal as far as who is most likely to win. A lot can happen between now and November 2016. However, polls are important in determining which issues people are most concerned about and how much support there is for specific policy changes. Polls also tell us a great deal about how a candidate’s personal qualities come into the equation.

In that light, the polls are showing that people are concerned about growing wealth inequality, Wall Street greed and criminality, the influence of big money on elections, crippling education debt, guaranteed access to health care, falling wages, and a vicious war on the poor and middle class. These are the issues on which Sanders speaks loudly and often. They are issues to which Clinton has given lip service – while GOP candidates don’t even talk about them.

These polls also strongly indicate that voters are ready for a candidate that speaks his/her mind and focuses on the issues as opposed to running a popularity contest and attacking his or her opponents. If current trends continue, we can expect Sanders to make a bigger impact in this election than anyone would have imagined.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.