Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Blogger Candidate Forum: Bernie's Electability

Image result for Primaries March 10, 2020

Hello Everyone:

It is Wednesday and time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Today we are going to discuss the results of semi-Super Tuesday and the implications for the future of Senator Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) campaign.  The short story is the Gentleman from Vermont is staying in the race and will be on the debate stage this coming Sunday in Arizona. 

Before we get started a few of things: First, please stop hoarding the toilet paper.  Really.  Second, have you registered to vote?  If your answer is yes, great, make sure you cast your ballot.  If the answer is no, stop reading, go to register to vote in your state, vote, and come back to read about Senator Sanders.  Finally, both Blogger and The Candidate Forum are extremely happy that disgraced movie impresario Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 year in prison for sexual assault.  He faces a second trial in Los Angeles on similar charges.  Blogger and The Candidate Forum salute the brave ladies who stepped forward to face and vanquish their monster.

Image result for Primaries March 10, 2020: Bernie Sanders
Sanders campaign rally

A lot of words have been written about the myth of electability, that elusive combination of policies, personality, and gender (yes) that makes one candidate palatable to every voter.  Every candidate for any office possess some combination of policy and personality, regardless of gender.  This election cycle we have two viable candidates for the Democratic nomination who say they are the most electable candidate in the field: VPOTUS Joe Biden (D-DE) who started his campaign by stating that he was the one who could beat Mr. Donald Trump.  The Gentleman from Vermont laid his claim to electability by declaring that he could put together the biggest and broadest coalition centered around his Democratic Socialist platform.  In the beginning everything seemed to fall his way.  Then South Carolina, followed by Super and semi-Super Tuesday happened leaving his campaign's and political future up in the air.  The reality is Senator Sanders can still win the nomination but that path got more narrow yesterday evening with losses in the Midwestern states.  Now what?

Image result for Primaries March 10, 2020: Bernie Sanders

What made the Gentleman from Vermont electable in the first place?  To answer that question, you have to go back to the 1980 presidential election cycle when an outlier candidate, whose only previous government experience was governor of California, resoundingly beat the incumbent president.  The candidate was the late President Ronald Reagan.  Moderate Republican Representative John Anderson warned his party at the time,

...[Our party] seems all too anxious to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and we will do the same if we nominate [an extremist for our presidential candidate.  (; Feb. 24, 2020; date accessed Mar. 11, 2020)

An internal memo by Democratic strategists at the time welcomed President Reagan's candidacy, thinking that they could defeat him with a negative campaign of right wingers versus moderates (Ibid).  How did that work out?  The late president then, like the Gentleman from Vermont now, had ample experience defending himself against accusations of extremism.  The real problem for incumbent President Jimmy Carter was a lack of an overarching message to anchor policy initiatives.

Image result for Primaries March 10, 2020: Bernie Sanders
As usual, the media got it all wrong.  Not just plain wrong but bigly wrong.  The talking heads said the Gentleman from Vermont was too old, too left wing to win, Americans would not vote for a socialist.  Too old?  VPOTUS was born November 20, 1942.  In the aftermath of three successful outings in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, Senator Sanders' electability was about his ability to win elections.  In a poll conducted by CBS/YouGov heading-to-head polling, the Gentleman from Vermont beats the incumbent by a slightly bigger margin than his nearest rival.  Prior to the now-completed Michigan primary, a UW-Madison Election Center survey had him two points ahead of VPOTUS (; Feb. 24, 2020; date accessed Mar. 11, 2020).  The point is the media missed the big story: Senator Sanders was able to energize a coalition of progressive Democrats and put it to the test.  Then, it seemed to fall apart.

The Biden Campaign bet heavily that the African American voters in South Carolina would deliver a victory for him in that state's primary.  It was a bet they won in double digits.  VPOTUS's campaign rolled the dice again on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020, betting that the Southern states would also come through with a victory.  They won again with not only the Southern states but also in Massachusetts and Texas.  Could the Joementum keep going in yesterday's semi-Super Tuesday when four Midwestern states, including the big prize of the night, Michigan, went to the polls.  Once again, VPOTUS won the night, winning four out of the six states--Senator Sanders won Washington and Idaho.  That left the Sanders campaign scratching their collective heads.
Image result for primaries march 10, 2020: michigan
Woman at a Western Michigan voting center

 The upper Midwest (i.e. the Rust Belt) has been central to the Gentleman from Vermont's argument for electing him president.  The factory towns were the place where he focused his arguments against the economic policies of the past fifty years (; Mar. 11, 2020).  In the 2016 presidential election cycle, he beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the Michigan primary.  A year ago, April, Senator Sanders toured Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, states that helped usher Mr. Trump into the White House, and crucial to any Democratic effort to recapturing the Presidency.  During the four-day excursion, he shared  his message of economic reform.  He told a rally in Madison, Wisconsin,

Four years ago, despite losing the popular vote by three million votes, Donald Trump carried all of those states and won enough electoral to win the Presidency...Together, we are going to make sure that that does not happen again (Ibid)

The 2016 Michigan primary was the Gentleman from Vermont's most decisive victory and the 2020 primary will go down as his most decisive loss.  The Gentleman from Vermont understood what was at stake as he criss-crossed the state with New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Reverand Jesse Jackson.  Even the presence of Democratic party luminaries was not enough.  Exit polls suggested that VPOTUS won black voters by a two-to-one margin (Ibid).  In 2016, the Gentleman from Vermont won white voters without a college degree; yesterday, they went for VPOTUS (Ibid).

Image result for Electability
Senator Bernie Sanders has gone from a noisy backbencher to a force on the political landscape to be reckoned with.  However, you have to wonder why, after a string of stunning defeats in states he was expected to win, he decided to continue the campaign?  On the positive side, there is a chance he could win the nomination and go head-to-head with the president.  The question is can he beat the president?  Not so simple.

The decisive factor for a majority of Democrats is electability, "they would rather nominate a candidate who can beat President Trump than a candidate who agrees with them on the issues"; Feb. 25, 2020; date accessed Mar. 11, 2020).  Although the Gentleman from Vermont polled well against the president as his moderate rivals in surveys.  Why is this the case?  Vox conducted a 40,000 person survey earlier this year, asking Americans to choose between the president and one of the leading candidates.  The survey, conducted by Lucid, an online market research company, found that a Sanders nomination would drive many Americans who would otherwise vote for a moderate candidate toward the president, especially the soft-Trump supporters (Ibid).

Senator Bernie Sanders has accomplished a lot since he entered the popular consciousness.  He has put together a multi-state, multi-racial, cross-generational coalition and popularize the idea of a fundamental reshaping of the American government and re-distribution of wealth.  He is a democratic socialist who won California, the biggest state in the United States.  Thanks to historic small donor contributions, the Gentleman from Vermont showed that a candidate who refuses rich donors can compete in the era of big money donors.

The Candidate Forum is not suggesting that Senator Sanders quit the race and release his delegates but the path to the nomination is getting more narrow.  Florida is the next big test and he already angered Cuban-American voters by appearing to ignore human rights abuses by Fidel Castro's regime.  You have to also wonder if a Sanders nomination would effect down ticket races (i.e House and Senate races).  Holding the House and flipping the Senate are crucial to getting his signature policy item, Medicare for All, passed and signed into law.  Without a Democrat majority in Congress, the issue is, for all intents-and-purposes, dead.  Whatever happens will be up to Senator Bernie Sanders.

No comments:

Post a Comment