Bernie Sanders Can Win: How ‘Politico’ Gets It Wrong [Part Three]

Reno Berkeley - Author
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Nov. 3 2016, Updated 2:26 p.m. ET

On Tuesday Politico published an op-ed by three Third Way pundits detailing their reasons why they believe Bernie Sanders can’t win in 2016. Their arguments were mostly comprised of already-debunked logic and, quite frankly, fear tactics. Third Way is a centrist think tank that favors candidates that fit the conventional image of a politician: moderate, corporatist, and one that speaks in boring clichés.

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William M. Daley, Jonathan Cowan, and Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, though, have got their logic wrong. In the first installment of this three-part series, we looked at voter anger and the minimum wage. The second installment investigated Bernie Sanders’ stance on Social Security, a single payer health care system, and creating jobs to lift the economy up. This third and final installment will focus on gerrymandering and the electorate, which are Bernie’s only true hurdles to a win, along with his resounding support among diverse groups of people.

Bernie Sanders Can Win Despite Gerrymandering

Daley, Cowan, and Hatalsky claim that the electorate spoke loud and clear in 2014. They claim the Democratic party is in major trouble and point to the midterms as proof.

They claim the Democratic party is in a “free-fall.” This depends on how one defines “free-fall.” Is it due to low voter turnout? Gerrymandering? A little bit of both? Something completely different, say, perhaps a shift further to the left abandoning centrist ideals?

In the 2014 mid-term elections, the Republicans had one of the biggest wins since the 1920s. Political pundits note that weak campaigns, poor strategies, and the willingness of wealthy GOP donors to throw money at their chosen candidates helped Republicans win big. However, Bill Moyers writer Lee Fang observed that perhaps Democrats didn’t have a chance without a massive voter turnout.

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In Pennsylvania, a state where gerrymandering districts run rampant, Democratic candidates as a whole won 44 percent of the vote but only won five House seats out of a possible 18. He noted in North Carolina that Democrats also won 44 percent of the total votes, but only secured three out of a possible 13 seats.

Why did Democrats lose so miserably despite getting nearly half the votes? Gerrymandering. In many of those districts, Fang states, Republican voters are spread out to give them more control. Democratic voters, on the other hand, are relegated to single districts, effectively muting their voices.

Voter turnout was historically low in 2014, and when voter turnout is low, it almost always favors the Republicans. In 2014, 63 percent of eligible voters stayed away from the polls. The turnout was the lowest it’s been since World War II, and should be a lesson to everyone who claims that their votes don’t count or matter.

The way Bernie Sanders can beat this is by energizing voters. And even as early as now, the Vermont senator is creating a fervor not seen in years. Not even Barack Obama generated this much excitement.

If the Democratic party is in a free-fall, it’s because voters have been fed the lie that voting doesn’t change anything. Yes, your vote matters.

Bernie Sanders Can Win Superdelegates

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This is another hurdle for Bernie Sanders. But as time marches on, he is turning people around. This is just as true for the delegates and superdelegates he needs to secure the nomination.

In October The Hill explained how Bernie Sanders could win the nomination by winning over voters and delegates. Despite Clinton’s lead, her numbers are declining, and continue to decline into December. Bernie’s numbers, conversely, are steadily rising.

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“Democratic superdelegates know that the Democratic Party has experienced a paradigm shift toward Sanders and away from Clinton.”

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In other words, these delegates are aware that voters are no longer satisfied with politicians that toe the party line. They want someone who speaks the truth, who actually talks about getting things done instead of weakly telling Wall Street to “cut it out.”

The article also notes that superdelegates, as much as they might want to support Clinton, they want to win even more. It would make little sense to back a candidate that performs poorly against Republicans. And while a Public Policy Polling survey puts Clinton 35 points ahead of Bernie Sanders, a Quinnipac Poll finds that Sanders does better in general election results than Clinton. Both Democratic candidates outperformed every GOP candidate, and Bernie Sanders beats some of them by 10 points.

If enough people vote to get Bernie Sanders the nomination, delegates will have a vested interest in winning against the GOP. Bernie supporters are also extremely loyal, and if he receives more votes in the primaries and yet does not get the nomination, some of his supporters may turn to a third party candidate, or worse, not vote at all. And the delegates know this. Thus, it is imperative for superdelegates to pledge their votes to a candidate who is most likely to perform better in a general election, and that means going with the candidate who wins the popular vote and who also performs better against the GOP candidate.

Bernie Sanders is Popular

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In answer to the above question, yes, he can. And Bernie has already proven his mettle against bigger, better-financed opponents since his first victory for mayor in 1981. Time and time again, Sanders has defeated the “big dogs” on the strength of his convictions and his message.

When he first announced his candidacy for president in April, he had very few supporters. Many people outside of Vermont did not know who he was. He was campaigning on a name recognition deficit, against a well-financed opponent, and in the last seven months, has gained millions of supporters from all walks of life.

A CBS/NYTimes poll shows Bernie Sanders 20 points behind Hillary. On the Reddit r/SandersForPresident sub, a user noted that this is exactly where President Obama stood in the polls two months past this point at the Iowa caucuses. It’s also worth noting that in 2008, the Democratic primaries had three strong candidates, so Bernie Sanders is actually ahead of where Obama was at this time seven years ago.

As of the end of November, Sanders has raised more than $41 million from more than 750,000 donors and almost 1 million donations. Very few of his donations reached the individual limit of $2,700. The numbers themselves are telling. People are giving to Bernie in more numbers than they are giving to Hillary, although her campaign donations are higher thanks to her accepting corporate money.

His rallies consistently draw in thousands of supporters, often with spill-over crowds.

Let’s not forget Bernie Sander’s recent victory as the people’s choice for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” award. Despite not being the magazine’s editorial choice, Bernie won the poll with nearly twice the votes of the runner-up, Malala Yousafzai. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton received a fraction of the votes Sanders did despite getting much more media coverage. If anything, this poll shows how immensely popular Sanders is among potential voters.

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