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Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks Tuesday at Bernie's Big New Year's Bash, which drew 1,300 in Des Moines: Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Des Moines Register via Reuters

Sen. Bernie Sanders' $35 million fourth-quarter fundraising, which easily tops 2020 Democrats, is a timely reminder that the socialist senator from Vermont is the single most consistently popular and viable Democrat of the past half-decade. 

Why it matters: The media rarely treats Sanders, 78, with the seriousness warranted by his sustained popularity and fundraising.

  • Like in 2016, Sanders has a legit shot to win the nomination — and an unshakable base to brace him. 

The data:

  • Since 2015, Sanders has raised more from small contributions (under $200) than any other Democrat, highlighting his grassroots support.
  • In both the 2016 and 2020 cycles, about 57% of his total fundraising came from small contributions. Joe Biden's share of fundraising from small contributions so far is only 35%.
  • Sanders' campaign says it took in 1.8 million donations during the fourth quarter — an average of $18.53.

The bottom line: Despite his age, and even after a heart attack and the insertion of stents this past fall, Sanders is surging again.

Between the lines: "His anti-establishment message hasn’t changed for 50 years, and it resonates with working-class voters and young people who agree the system is corrupt," the N.Y. Times wrote from Iowa last week.

  • "Sanders's revival has reshuffled the Democratic primary race, providing a counterweight to the shift toward centrism in recent months that has elevated Mayor Pete Buttigieg."

Go deeper: 2020 candidates' Q4 fundraising hauls

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Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

Former Defense Secretary Esper sues Pentagon over book

Former President Trump and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the White House in 2020. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper filed a lawsuit Sunday against the Defense Department, accusing the Pentagon of "censoring" his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his upcoming book on the Trump administration.

The big picture: Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until he was fired by then-President Trump in November last year, alleges in the suit that "significant text" is "being improperly withheld from publication" of the manuscript "under the guise of classification."

WHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries

Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa. Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The World Health Organization called on countries Sunday to not impose travel bans on southern African nations amid concerns over the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The U.S. and countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific announced travel restrictions in response to Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa. It's since spread to several European countries, Canada, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong. The WHO noted in a statement that only two southern African nations have detected the new variant.