A new CNN poll has Donald Trump surging in Iowa. He’s way ahead in New Hampshire. The Republican establishment is making peace with the notion that he may be their nominee.

Where does that leave Democrats? Are they going to roll the dice on Bernie Sanders, who has never confronted the full fury of the rightwing noise machine? Or will they put their faith in Hillary Clinton, one of the most experienced and prepared candidates ever to seek the presidency? A new CNN poll shows Iowa voters believe she is more likely to win the general election than Bernie Sanders by a margin of 60% to 38%. Those voters know intuitively that polls showing Bernie doing well in general election match-ups are meaningless, considering he’s gotten a free pass from the GOP.

If Bernie were to become the Democratic nominee, he’d face an assault on his character the likes of which would make the attacks on Hillary look like child’s play. As I wrote yesterday:

Bernie will be turned into an aging cartoon Commie, a flip-flopping America-hater, a 60s holdover writing bizarre essays about free sex and child rape fantasies, a non-Democrat Democrat whose embrace of the NRA undermines his claims to purity, a politician who voted against the Amber Alert system, a draft dodger, and a man who thinks women’s rights are a distraction.  There’s an entire library of fresh, juicy opposition research on Bernie Sanders tucked away in RNC headquarters, awaiting the mother of all oppo drops.

My friend and business partner Eric Burns made a fascinating observation today: Trump is the master at taking down other men, but clueless when it comes to competing with a woman. He made a mess of his exchange with Fox’s Megyn Kelly and put his foot in his mouth with Carly Fiorina. He’s been flailing with Hillary, claiming she lacks “strength and stamina” – perhaps one of the least believable political attacks of the entire cycle.

Trump eviscerates male opponents with a few tweets. He’ll have a field day with Bernie Sanders, and so will the GOP attack apparatus.

Elections are about choices, about weighing pros and cons, about picking a candidate judiciously. Hillary’s capacity to withstand direct hits from the GOP’s smear machine and come out stronger is a crucial asset.

President Obama faced John McCain and Mitt Romney, neither of whom were remotely as scary as Donald Trump. “President Trump” isn’t an option for America. And Democratic voters now have to decide who can face him should he remain on track to win.

I’ve spent the day fielding a torrent of outrage from Bernie fans who take any criticism of their candidate as a deep personal insult and who spew volcanoes of venom toward Hillary, revealing their obvious issues with powerful women. But my advocacy for Hillary is undeterred.

Electing the first woman president in American history won’t happen without a struggle. I want my young daughter to know I fought tooth and nail to elect Hillary. I’ll continue to do so until Election Day. And I do so knowing she’ll make an exceptional president who is more effective at advancing the progressive cause than Bernie or any other Democrat.