The Democrats’ Worst Nightmare — Bernie Sanders is Surging
Author: Greg Valliere
January 28, 2020
BERNIE SANDERS, MAKING HIS MOVE: Flush with plenty of money, boosted by a passionate base, and contemptuous toward the political establishment — sounds like Donald Trump in 2016, doesn’t it? But it describes the remarkable surge by Sen. Bernie Sanders, now the favorite to win the first two elections of the year.
ESTABLISHMENT DEMOCRATS ARE HORRIFIED: They think the 78-year-old socialist would be the clear underdog to Donald Trump this fall, and they worry about huge down-ballot losses in moderate states if Sanders heads the ticket.
A MAJOR SHIFT IN THE POLLS: Sanders appears to have moved into the lead in Iowa’s Feb. 3 caucuses, and he’s now the clear frontrunner in the Feb.11 New Hampshire primary. He has a chance to finish first or second in the Feb. 22 Nevada primary, but he’s trailing Joe Biden in the Feb. 29 South Carolina primary.
SANDERS COULD HAVE MOMENTUM heading into the pivotal Super Tuesday contests on March 3, which will feature over a dozen races including the mother lode in California. By that time, Sen. Elizabeth Warren could be staggering and Sanders could lock up the left — as moderate Democrats fight among themselves. Biden, Mike Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg could refuse to drop out until later in the spring, or until the July 13-16 convention in Milwaukee.
WHY IS SANDERS SO POPULAR? Like Trump, he has a passionate following. Biden and the other Democrats have loyal supporters but only Sanders (and Andrew Yang) have true believers. Sanders preaches a fierce anti-corporate populism — which polls very well with young Democrats.
SHOW ME THE MONEY: Moreover, Sanders is a fundraising machine; he has at least $50 million on hand, largely from small donors — not Bloomberg money, but enough to stay in the race. The average contribution to Sanders in the fourth quarter was about $18, which will allow him to tap those donors again.
BUT SANDERS HAS LEGIONS OF DETRACTORS in the Democrats’ establishment, not just Hillary Clinton. Barack and Michelle Obama will fiercely oppose Sanders if his nomination begins to look likely.
FOR A PARTY USED TO SUPPORTING THE PRESS, many Democrats have blasted the media for giving Sanders a free ride, not taking a careful look at the price-tag of his enormously expensive agenda, which quite clearly cannot be paid for. And the establishment has long accused the Sanders team of being dismissive toward women (although he emerged unscathed after his recent dust-up with Warren).
THE PUSH-BACK WILL BEGIN SOON: The establishment will allege that Trump wants Sanders to win the nomination, which is probably true. Trump could win 40 states against Sanders, the establishment says, while Biden or Bloomberg could come close to 270 electoral votes. And there will be a focus on Sanders’ health and the medications he takes (although he seems more vigorous than Biden on the campaign trail).
COULD SANDERS WIN THE NOMINATION? Impossible, scoff the skeptics — but that’s what they said when Melania and Donald Trump took the escalator down to their first rally. Could Sanders win the presidency? Unlikely, but Trump may emerge badly bruised from his impeachment dust-up with John Bolton. So hang on for the Bernie surge, anything can happen (see: 2016).
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