Political rock star Bernie Sanders brings his presidential message to Chicago

Never before has a presidential campaign looked more like American Idol than now.

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Never before has a presidential campaign looked more like American Idol than now.

Last month, 122 million people cast American Idol votes. When President Obama ran back in 2008, only 132 million people voted in the general election.

Now, the presidential race has a cast of characters driving even debate ratings through the roof.

On the republican side, political outsider Donald Trump is surprising everyone, especially his own party, with huge victories.

The Republicans know time is running out for either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz to stop Trump. If Trump wins big on Super Tuesday, it might be too late for that golden ticket.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is sweating. She expected to have the nomination wrapped up by the primary in her native Illinois in March. But a slim victory in Nevada shows just how much excitement Bernie Sanders is generating, especially among young voters. Super Tuesday could be a defining moment.

It will be interesting to see whether this presidential election generates more votes than the American Idol series finale.

On Thursday night, Bernie Sanders brought his road show to Chicago. He spoke before a packed house at Chicago State University, which is a school and a group of students in desperate need of financial aid.

Sanders brought his folksy down-home charm to the convocation center at Chicago State, basking in the warm reception. The 6500 seat venue was packed in part because the widespread appeal Sanders has gained among young people.

“Well I like how he stands for education, you know here in Illinois with the governor's decision to withhold the budget it makes it really hard for us college students to focus on our education and to hear somebody stand up for us for a change, we like it,” said CSU student Travell Turner.

Before the rally, thousands stood in line in the chilly conditions to make sure they got a seat. Sanders, who is a self-described democratic socialist, is promising tuition free public colleges, a massive expansion of universal healthcare and tax programs that some consider income redistribution.

“I have an economics degree, a Masters from the University of Chicago, and I agree with almost everything I've heard him say on economics so I'm very excited about him,” said accountant Gary Robisch.

But it's not just Sanders politics that is gaining appeal, it's his personality.

“I think he's honest, I don't think he's corrupted by the system like a lot of others,” said Lindsay Grissom.

Perhaps it is also that Sanders almost seems like the anti-candidate, even though he's held political office for 35 years.

“His authenticity, I've been following him for 30 years and he has been very consistent he has not sold out to Wall Street big oil or anyone,” said flight attendant Alisa Martin.

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