Why Senate Dems Aren’t Freaking Out About Bernie
Despite some panic in the party, a key piece of the Democratic establishment thinks Sanders can beat Trump.
02/24/2020 08:03 PM EST
House Democrats are warning of a down-ballot bloodbath and centrists are freaking out. But Bernie Sanders colleagues have a more placid take on the rise of democratic socialist: Bernie can beat Donald Trump.
After jumping out to an early delegate advantage, seizing the lead in national polls and racking up eye-popping fundraising numbers, Sanders is the clear frontrunner as the party heads into a potentially decisive March stretch for the Democratic primary. And thats OK with many Senate Democrats, who have served alongside Sanders for 13 years.
Its not just senators being courteous to a colleague known for being something of a loner in the upper chamber. Instead, Senate Democrats respect the durable political movement hes built over the past five years that threatened to topple Hillary Clinton and a populist streak that could be wielded against Trump to win over some of his voters.
I do believe he can beat President Trump, said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand , who sought the presidential nomination earlier this cycle. What Bernie has shown us until now is that he has a very broad base of very, very passionate followers. That is the first thing you need for a campaign on any level. Especially in a red or purple district.
Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.
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Who Could Win The Democratic Primary
I asked Ben Tulchin, the pollster for the Sanders campaign, to respond to these worries. A lightly edited and condensed transcript of our conversation follows.
Greg Sargent: What does Sanderss winning coalition in November look like?
Ben Tulchin: If he wins the nomination, he will have a unified Democratic Party behind him, based on strong antipathy towards Donald Trump. That gives us a solid, very motivated base.
He does several points better than any other Democrat against Trump among 18-to-34 year-olds, which is a significant percentage of the electorate.
Bernie has consistently done better among independents than any other Democrat tested, particularly younger independents, which is an important part of Bernies base, especially younger independent men.
College-educated Democrats are going to be solidly with us, because they rabidly hate Trump. Young voters, independents, Latinos look at the overwhelming margin Bernie won Latinos by in Nevada. That puts him in a position to put Texas in play. Theres a small but fast-growing Latino population in North Carolina. Bernie could do well with Latinos in Florida.
Sargent: One of Barack Obamas alumni said on TV that for Bernie, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia are basically off the table. You reject that?
Bernie has strong appeal with working-class voters regardless of ethnicity white, Latinos, African Americans.
Sargent: Bernies rhetoric is sometimes more unifying than he gets credit for.
Class Politics At Scale
Our enthusiasm about a possible Sanders versus Trump contest isnt confined to the prospect that Sanders will win. How Sanders can beat Trump has enormous implications for the future of American politics.
First, we should remember a simple fact of scale, easy to forget if you follow politics as a vocation or an obsession: general elections are much, much larger than primaries.
About 31 million people voted in the 2016 Democratic primary, one of the most hotly contested nominating contests in U.S. history. Over 136 million voted in the general election. The same ratio applies to campaign spending: together, Clinton and Sanders spent about $445 million in their primary race. In the general election, Clinton and Trump spent about $1.8 billion.
Using the 2016 primary race as his platform, Sanders was able to demonstrate that radical left-wing ideas like Medicare For All, tuition-free public college, and a $15 minimum wage actually had an enormous base of support, far beyond any niche of self-defined progressives. This revelation has already left a deep imprint on the Democratic Party which has absorbed much of Sanderss program, either in fact or in rhetoric and will probably shape American politics for years to come.
A Sanders general election campaign would present an opportunity of the same kind, but on a scale roughly four times as large.
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Bernie Sanders Comes Closest To Beating Trump In Texas New Poll Says
President Donald Trump may still be leading the political polls in Texas, but data released Wednesday show Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is actually the biggest threat to Trump winning the state, although former Vice President Joe Biden is still the current Democratic front runner in Texas.
Polling by the non-partisan organization, the Texas Lyceum, showed that in a trial presidential election ballot, Sanders held 47 percent to Trumpâs 50 percent. When Biden was put up against the president in a hypothetical matchup, Biden scored 46 percent to Trumpâs 51 percent.
Biden did, however, pick up the win for the overall poll as 28 percent of potential Democratic voters in the Texas primary supported Biden. Sanders came in second place with 26 percent while Senator Elizabeth Warren came in a distant third place with 13 percent, a full 13 points behind Sanders.
Newsweek reached out to the Sanders campaign for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Rounding out the top five were billionaire Michael Bloomberg with 9 percent and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 6 percent.
Trump lost the 2016 Texas Republican primary to Texas Senator Ted Cruz by a wide margin. Cruz wound up with almost 44 percent of the vote while Trump came in second with only 26.7 percent. But after Cruzâs popularity spiraled, culminating in a defeat in the Indiana primary, Cruz suspended his campaign.
Can Bernie Sanders Beat Donald Trump This Is The Reality
Bernie Sanders has built a movement and has momentum. But there are many rational reasons to think that nominating a democratic socialist in a center-right country is a real risk, and p …
Is the fear of Bernie Sanders and socialism exaggerated? 2:46
Editor’s Note: John Avlon is a senior political analyst at CNN.The opinions expressed in this column belong only to him.
– They would forgive you for thinking that there are no rules in politics and that there is nothing else to learn from history.
After all, a man who was caught on video boasting of sexually assaulting women was elected president by winning the vote of the majority of white women who elected him over the first presidential candidate.
Donald Trump was a populist outsider who violated all the rules of politics. He did not care about the Republican Party and did not try to build a broad coalition. But his base loved him, even when the Republican establishment warned that he would be a disastrous candidate.
Now, many people are watching a repeat of the same script with the rise of Bernie Sanders. There is no doubt that this outsider has built a populist movement and moved the debate within the Democratic Party decidedly to the left. His supporters are passionate and quick to condemn the Democratic establishment.
And after two partisan assemblies and a primary, Bernie Sanders is the favorite Democrat after being behind Joe Biden in the polls for most of the campaign. Now he has momentum.
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But as Bidens case for his superior electability collapses, it makes sense that voters would take a second look at Sanders, who, in addition to polling well against Trump, aligns more closely with the Democratic Party base particularly, according to some polls, black and Hispanic voters on key policy issues like immigration and Medicare for All.
Are voters right to believe in Bernie? While polls can only tell us so much at this juncture, the latest one from Quinnipiac University surveying all registered voters shows him doing well in a head-to-head against Trump, beating him 51-43 percent in the same poll, Biden bests Trump 50-43 and Bloomberg does so 51-42. Sanders, however, polls the best against Trump with independents which makes sense, as hes the longest-serving independent member of Congress in U.S. history.
The Reason Sanders Appears Equally Electable
These Bernie or bust voters that come off the sidelines for Sanders in our survey are almost entirely limited to one group: Democrats and independents under age 35. These voters are about 11 percentage points more likely to say they would vote for Democrats if Sanders is nominated and almost all of them say they would not vote at all or vote third party if hes not on the ballot.
However, the Bernie or bust phenomenon appears almost entirely limited to left-leaning young people, who are usually a small share of the overall electorate. This stands in contrast to many theories of Sanderss electoral appeal: For example, whites without a college degree a demographic some speculate Sanders could win over are actually more likely to say they will vote for Trump against Sanders than against the other Democrats. The same is true of the rest of the electorate, except left-leaning young people.
This finding in our data mirrors many other surveys: Morning Consult finds dramatic increases in young Americans stated turnout intentions when asked how they would vote in matchups between Sanders and Trump.
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Bernie Sanders Is The Strongest Candidate To Beat Donald Trump
To unseat Donald Trump next November, his opponent will need a volunteer army in places that arent necessarily liberal strongholds. The data show that Bernie Sanders has that army.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr
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When I talk to Democrats about the presidential primary, I hear the same thing over and over: Ill vote for whoever I think can beat Donald Trump.
Fair enough. The problem is that theres no way to know for sure who that might be. The latest polls show all of the top Democratic Party presidential candidates beating Trump in a general election. But then, these same polls also showed Hillary Clinton beating Trump, so who can trust them? In order to figure out who has the best chance of beating Trump, well need to reason it out.
Electorally speaking, Trump won for two related reasons: in key swing states, a handful of former Obama voters opted for Trump over Clinton, and another handful to vote for nobody at all. To unseat Trump, the nominee will have to perform well in those swing areas. Instead of projecting our own fantasies about what voters are looking for in a candidate, we should look at the supporter data that is already available.
But we can still draw meaningful insights from this data. In particular, the fact that donors tend to be more politically engaged than non-donors makes the presence of passionate Sanders supporters in flipped counties especially important.
‘medicare For All’ Versus A Public Option
Sanders also argued for his signature “Medicare for All” plan over public options like Biden’s or soon-to-be former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s proposal. Medicare for All would create a single-payer health care system and in the process eliminate the “massive and chaotic bureaucracy that currently exists in our health care system,” Sanders said. It was a theme he returned to in a walking press gaggle Tuesday.
“The current system, which are defending with minor tweaks, is far and away the most expensive system in the world,” Sanders said.
Biden and Buttigieg argue their plans would cost the nation less and preserve choice. Sanders says his proposal broadens consumer choice by letting individuals, not insurance networks, choose health care providers, and that the taxes to pay for it will be far less than what private plans cost now.
On the trail, Sanders will frequently ask audience members what their health care premiums and deductibles are he reserves a particular ire for deductibles being an additional barrier to care after premiums are paid and contrasts it with out-of-pocket costs he says typical families would pay in Medicare for All taxes. The stump comparisons of insurance costs to Sanders’ example of families earning $60,000 a year is generally about 10 to 1 ratio.
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Can Bernie Sanders Beat Donald Trump Here’s The Reality
Opinion by John Avlon
Editor’s Note: John Avlon is a CNN senior political analyst. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that there are no rules in politics and there’s nothing more to learn from history.
After all, a guy who got caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women got elected president by winning a majority of white women over the first female presidential nominee.
Donald Trump was a populist outsider who violated all the rules of politics. He did not care about the Republican Party and he didn’t try to build a broad coalition. But he was beloved by his base, even as the GOP establishment warned he would be a disastrous nominee.
Now, many people are seeing a replay of that same script with the rise of Bernie Sanders. There’s no question that this outsider has built a populist movement and moved the debate inside the Democratic Party decidedly to the left. His supporters are passionate and quick to condemn the Democratic establishment.
And after two caucuses and one primary, Bernie Sanders is the Democratic front-runner after trailing Joe Biden in the polls for most of the campaign. Now, he has momentum.
But can Bernie win? That’s the 270-electoral vote question.
Because the No. 1 issue for Democrats this election is simple: Beating Trump.
But what if this time it’s different?
Let’s take a look at the ideological divisions inside the Democratic Party.
And Then Coronavirus Changed Everything
In the US, concern about coronavirus hit suddenly and decisively around mid-March, pushing politics to the periphery in news bulletins but not necessarily in the minds of Americans.
Healthcare was front of mind. So too was the economy. Presidential leadership mattered in a way it hadnt during the Russia probe or Ukraine scandal.
With sports and TV shows cancelled, millions of Americans tuned in to the first one-on-one debate featuring Biden and Sanders.
Biden, aided by the lack of a cheering crowd, laid out step-by-step plans for how hed fight the virus if he were president today.
Sanders stuck to the same policy ideas he always had, talking about redistributing wealth and overhauling the healthcare system.
It has nothing to do with Medicare for All. That does not solve the problem at all, Biden responded.
People are looking for results, not a revolution.
The next round of primaries again went to Biden. Then the next.
Living through a world turned upside down, Americans went the way of South Carolina and decided they could no longer entertain the idea of a political revolution or a sudden shift to socialist policies. They wanted safety, security and predictability.
They wanted Joe Biden.
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How inevitable is a third consecutive nomination of Donald Trump? Partisan commentators, when it suits their purposes, tend to assume it is so.
Republicans who remain supporters of the 45th president point to data showing he remains popular among his partys voters. They also recall how loudly heralded attempts to deprive him of his first nomination, in 2016, foundered.
Democrats who regard Trumps election as an inexplicable black swan event, or even a putsch, have an obvious interest in elevating his chances. So do the cable news channels, which, hungry for ratings, gave him the equivalent of billions of dollars worth of free advertising in the spring of 2016.
That interest is illustrated in the poll numbers. For Donald Trump remains unpopular with, if not anathema to, a majority of voters, including many who otherwise regularly vote Republican. That unpopularity is a sledgehammer they can use to attack all Republicans.
Democrats certainly dont want to depend on the popularity of Joe Biden or his policies. And who else do they have to run?
But is Donald Trumps lock on a third presidential nomination all that secure? Recent polling suggests the answer is no.
To which two things must be added. The first is that this is based on the responses of a minority of the 849 registered voters whom NYT-Siena interviewed. Margins of error in samples this small are pretty large.
Bernie Sanders Would Have Beaten Donald Trump Not So Fast
Sanders gained more votes than Hillary Clinton in key general election states. But voting behavior in the primaries is very different to voting on the big day
It has been a week since Donald Trump won the majority of electoral college votes and became president-elect of the US . It has been a week of endless questions and limited answers how? why? And, perhaps most important of all: what now?
More specifically, some have wondered whether Donald Trump would have been defeated if he had faced a different Democratic candidate: Bernie Sanders. On Wednesday, CNN journalist Wolf Blitzer asked Jane Sanders, wife of the former candidate for the Democratic nomination, if her husband would have had a better chance of beating Trump than Clinton. Absolutely, she replied, but it doesnt matter now.
Theres mixed evidence for that certainty.
In the primaries, Sanders gained more votes than Clinton in Wisconsin and Michigan. Those are important states. Wisconsin, a formerly Democratic state, was narrowly won by Trump in the presidential election on Tuesday. In Michigan, the race was even closer, with Trump winning by just 11,837 votes . If Clinton had won just 109,000 more votes in those states , we would be calling her, and not Trump, president-elect.
The story for Bernie Sanders though looks very different :
More accurate perhaps is polling that asks about broader attitudes rather than people .
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