2020-02-24

We may be paddling through a bend in the river of history

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by Neil Godfrey

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Neil Godfrey

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10 Comments

  • 2020-02-24 03:20:50 GMT+0000 - 03:20 | Permalink

    We went around the bend four years ago. Is there any evidence-based reason to believe that of all the contenders, Sanders has the best chance of defeating Trump in November?

    • Gregory Doudna
      2020-02-24 14:10:21 GMT+0000 - 14:10 | Permalink

      A gold-standard national CBS/YouGov poll released yesterday (realclearpolitics.com) shows Sanders defeating Trump by +3% national popular vote, compared to Bloomberg losing by -3 and all other Democratic candidates coming in below Sanders. The Latino vote nationwide is breaking for Sanders and Sanders is now about even with Biden among African Americans and rising. Among young people, under-35’s, the wave of the future, Sanders’ support is practically tsunami.

      Any Democrat, not simply Sanders, is going to find Trump difficult to beat, partly due to the incumbency and partly due to other political reality. It is not certain that Sanders would win but it is arguably less certain that any other, such as Biden or Bloomberg, would win.

      The argument is that Sanders’ self-identification and personal history as a socialist means he cannot be elected. That, however, has shown zero evidence, either throughout the 2016 election cycle polling–in which Sanders consistently polled as more electable than Hillary Clinton against Trump– or in months of current nationwide matchup polling in which Sanders consistently outpolls Trump. (All the major polls can be found on the realclearpolitics.com site). People think “a self-described socialist can’t win”. But that is like saying a Catholic (JFK) could never win, or an African American (Obama) could never win, or a woman (Clinton) could never win, or a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) (Romney) could never win, or a gay (Buttegieg) could never win. All of these appear to be articles of faith more than reality. Sanders’ label of “socialism”, like Obama’s skin color, will cause some to not vote for him. But the idea that Sanders cannot win because of that has shown zero support or evidence in months of matchup Trump vs. Sanders polling, or in how Sanders fares in such matchup polling compared to the other Democratic candidates (Sanders usually leads other Democratic candidates by a point or two or three in such polling).

      Therefore the idea of a 1972 McGovern blowout, in which Nixon carried 49 out of 50 states, is not likely. The same logic predicted that Trump 2016 would be like the 1964 Goldwater Republican disaster. More likely is that Sanders has the best statistical chances and shot at defeating Trump of the existing alternatives, and that the comparison is not 1972 or 1964 but Trump 2016. The reason the red-baiting, so effective among Republicans who will not vote Democratic anyway, is not effective in Sanders’ electability nationwide according to polling, is that people can see Sanders is fundamentally decent. Sanders is talking about Canadian and Scandinavian or West German domestic social infrastructure policies and a majority of Americans are asking “what is so bad about that?”, with right-wing answers (on why that is so horrible) sounding hollow. Bernie is benefitting from something of a Jimmy Stuart “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” phenomenon. According to Morning Consult polling (Jan 2019), “Bernie Sanders was the most popular senator [among voters nationwide] for the 11th time [annually] in a row.”

      The socialism label, while a factor, is mostly sideshow. As I understand it, real socialists say Sanders is not actually a socialist but rather an FDR New Dealer, or what in Europe is called social democrat. I was a Bernie Sanders delegate from my precinct in the 2016 Washington state caucus, and I believe, in agreement with 100% of the polling at the time showing Sanders stronger than Clinton in electability, that if Sanders had been the nominee that Trump would not be president today. In the deeply militarized state of our world Sanders is a different possibility and, from all polling evidence, no less electable, and probably more so, than any other Democratic choice for 2020.

  • Pofarmer
    2020-02-24 05:39:14 GMT+0000 - 05:39 | Permalink

    I dunno. Republicans are crossing over to propel Bernie. I guess we’ll see how it all plays out. A self avowed socialist against a phoney populist.

  • shea mcduff
    2020-02-24 11:41:17 GMT+0000 - 11:41 | Permalink

    Yep. Several. For example there’s that # 47 next to his name which is more than the next 3 candidates combined. Then there is the fact that he has won the popular vote in every primary held thus far and probably the delegates vote as well. And finally there’s the opinion polls [whatever they are worth] that give him a substantial lead of some to several % over Trump in a direct contest. Such as this one [Sanders leads over Trump even when described as a ‘socialist’]- https://www.vox.com/2020/1/31/21113780/bernie-sanders-socialism-electability-primaries

  • shea mcduff
    2020-02-24 12:28:02 GMT+0000 - 12:28 | Permalink

    https://www.vox.com/2020/1/31/21113780/bernie-sanders-socialism-electability-primaries

    “Bernie Sanders leads Donald Trump in polls, even when you remind people he’s a socialist”

  • 2020-02-26 00:30:04 GMT+0000 - 00:30 | Permalink

    I hope that those poll numbers (a) are correct and (b) will hold up through November.

    I’m a political conservative, but I see nothing conservative in Trump’s thuggery. I would prefer almost any other Democrat to Sanders, but if he’s on the ballot, I’ll pick him over Trump without hesitation.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2020-02-26 03:05:48 GMT+0000 - 03:05 | Permalink

      I have to confess I have a hard time understanding why Sanders is considered so objectionable by so many. I presume it has to do with some sort of fear of anything that people have been conditioned to associate with gulags, show trials, Russia, Reds, . . . . ? From where I stand Sanders sounds like he’s merely trying to bring the U.S. up to the standards of other Western countries re health care etc.

      • Charles
        2020-02-26 20:25:14 GMT+0000 - 20:25 | Permalink

        For me, I want whoever can beat Trump to be the nominee. But Sanders is 78 and just had a heart attack. If he served 8 years he would be 86 at the end (nearly 90). He might have Alzheimer’s worse than Reagan toward the end. He definitely needs a good VP going in ’cause he may die from all the pressure. Plus, he’s labeled a socialist which may deter some voters. I don’t like him and prefer Klobuchar. She seems like a good moderate and seems to have good dense but I’ll vote for the nominee. Anything to get Comrade Trump out of there.

      • Pofarmer
        2020-03-01 16:05:51 GMT+0000 - 16:05 | Permalink

        In most places Sanders would be considered center/left, it seems to me. It’s only after the right in the U.S. has gone full on fascist that he looks hard right [left].


        (Neil: I changed the last word to the one you meant.)

  • 2020-02-26 22:51:25 GMT+0000 - 22:51 | Permalink

    Personally I think Elizabeth Warren would both perform best against Trump and make the best president. I’m surprised that sh’e not doing better than she is currently. But I’m also happy to see Sanders doing as well as he is. I think that no matter what, the fact that Sanders is outperforming all the other Dems has to send a message that can’t be ignored.

    The claim that the problem with the Dems is that they’ve gone to far left can’t be taken seriously, when in fact the farthest left candidate is the one with the most support.

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