Can Bernie Sanders Beat Donald Trump Heres The Reality
Opinion by John Avlon
Editors Note: John Avlon is a CNN senior political analyst. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
Youd be forgiven for thinking that there are no rules in politics and theres 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 didnt 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. Theres 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? Thats the 270-electoral vote question.
Because the No. 1 issue for Democrats this election is simple: Beating Trump.
But what if this time its different?
Lets take a look at the ideological divisions inside the Democratic Party.
A Divided Democratic Camp
Biden, initially expected by many Americans to blaze ahead as the Democratic nominee, trailed rivals Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the Iowa caucuses last week. Polls in New Hampshire, which will hold its primary Tuesday, show Biden on the verge of another relatively weak finish, according to a RealClearPolitics polling average.
And new national polls show Sanders pulling ahead of Biden for the first time.
Bloomberg, meanwhile, joined the race late in the game and won’t be appearing on any ballots until Super Tuesday on March 3, but he’s rising in the polls after pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into his campaign. In a recent poll of small-business owners, the billionaire businessman was the only Democrat to top Trump. The poll, conducted in January, showed 52% of respondents said they favored the former New York mayor, according to Gallup and payments tech firm Square.
The Idea That Trumps Big Lie Is Hurting Himself Is A Convenient Myth
From time to time, a point of view will make its way from the mouths of official sources to the ears of reporters often enough that it takes on the status of official fact. One such claim you have probably come across is the belief that Donald Trump is sabotaging his own campaign by obsessing over the 2020 election.
Trump remains fixated on the stolen 2020 election notes an aside in Jonathan Swans harrowing report on Trumps plans to impose political discipline on the bureaucracy: He cannot stop talking about it, no matter how many allies advise him it would serve his political interests to move on. This notion often lurks in the background of political reporting on the Republican Party. Those Republicans who support Trump but are one step away from his inner circle find the scene that unfolded Tuesday night to be counterproductive, reports one typical passage in Politico. At a time when the ex-president could be focused on propelling the Republican Party toward the upcoming elections, Trump is still anchored down by conspiracies and anger over losing the last one.
You can already see this argument taking shape in the prospective Republican nominating contest. An aide to Mike Pence tells the Washington Post that the former veep would likely make the point that Trump is the only person who lost to Biden. For Trump to concede this point to admit to being a loser would be devastating to his candidacy. Thats why he cant concede it.
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Opinionbernie Sanders’ Fans Can’t Be Allowed To Poison Another Democratic Primary With Personal Attacks
To put it bluntly, Biden has everything he needs to run against Trump and actually win he just needs to officially throw his hat in the ring and convince others in the field to move aside so as to not fall victim to a tough primary the likes of which the Republican Party saw in 2008, 2012 and 2016. All the resources of the Democratic party ought to go toward defeating Trump, not fighting one another.
As a former Republican voter who denounced the party once Trump became its nominee, Ive often been asked who my ideal candidate would be, and the answer has always been rather simple: A ticket with Joe Biden at the top, because he is a no-nonsense guy who understands the needs of everyday Americans and knows how to make the government work for the people.
Not only does Bidens likability and down-to-earth personality make him the ideal candidate, he is the right candidate for the moment and that moment is a dire one. Its time to return common sense, bipartisanship and stability back to our government and to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in particular.
Rather than crowding the field, Democrats should encourage someone like Biden to run if theyre serious about taking back the White House, or they will simply tear themselves apart and hand the election to Trump on a platter.
To Beat Trump Would Require A Candidate Who Could Unite A Coalition Of Never
Former President Donald Trump remains the favored candidate to win the Republican nomination in 2024 should he run, and hes confident its his if he wants it.
If I do run, I think that Ill do extremely well, Trump told Yahoo Finance in an interview earlier this month. Im not only looking at polls, Im looking at the enthusiasm.
Trump has come out ahead in recent polls of potential 2024 contenders, including a Politico-Morning Consult poll released Oct. 13 that found 47% of Republican voters would vote for Trump if the primary was held today. That put Trump far ahead of his nearest competitors, former Vice President Mike Pence, at 13%, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, at 12%. Trump said hes not concerned about any potential challengers.
I think most people would drop out, I think would drop out, and if I faced him Id beat him like Id beat everyone else, frankly, Trump said.
Some polls this year have found a significant segment of Republican voters want someone else as their nominee in 2024, though. A poll earlier this year by Trumps 2020 pollster Fabrizio and Lee found about half of all Republicans would prefer a different nominee, while a Pew Research survey released earlier this month found 52% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents want someone new.
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Opinionnot Sure What Socialists Believe You Might Already Be One
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.
Half Of Republican Nominees Have At Least Flirted With Denying The Election
As mentioned above, out of 340 Republican nominees for Senate, House, governor, attorney general and secretary of state so far, 120 are full-blown election deniers .2 This includes people like Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who said in a campaign ad that the fake news, big tech and blue-state liberals stole the election from President Trump, and Indiana Rep. Greg Pence, who voted not to certify Pennsylvanias electoral votes and hasnt spoken out on the issue since. It also includes at least four people who attended the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol: Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, Ohio 9th Congressional District nominee J.R. Majewski, Oregon senatorial nominee Jo Rae Perkins and North Carolina 1st Congressional District nominee Sandy Smith.
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How Public Money Influences The 2020 Odds
Before breaking down the chances for each candidate, lets run down how money wagered by the public can affect the 2020 odds.
- When enough public money is placed on a betting line for a candidate, oddsmakers will shift value away from that person by changing the odds from a less likely to more likely number which results in a less favorable payout for the bettor.
- Take this example: Candidate A is favored at -150 which has a 58.26% implied probability or chance to win and Candidate B is the underdog at +130 and has a 41.74% chance to win.
- But after Candidate A did something that the American public didnt like, money was then bet on the odds for Candidate B, which caused Candidate B to become the favorite at -200 while Candidate A fell to +170 .
- The odds for a candidate will continue to fluctuate up and down until either the betting market consensus determines there is no more value at the current time or the outcome becomes known, and all bets are won or lost.
This is why the betting odds board at online sportsbooks can be one of the best prediction markets youll find anywhere. How the public views a candidate at any point in time or on a specific issue can be seen in real-time based solely on which candidate is receiving the most money after the odds have been posted.
Essentially, its like the old saying, Put your money where your mouth is.
Elizabeth Warren Sherrod Brown Jeff Merkley
As a democratic socialist, Senator Sanders has no real allegiance to the Democratic Party it often seems his populist movement would just as soon burn the party down. But there are other populists who are less antagonistic to the Democratic Party not to mention who actually belong to it.
If she runs, Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator, would instantaneously be the Democrats putative front-runner. Her anti-corporate agenda has made her a fund-raising powerhouse, and she seems to have found an ideological sweet spot between the centrist Clinton and populist Sanders factions. Additionally, thanks to the Nevertheless she persisted meme, shes become a feminist heroine.
But Ms. Warren, wholl be 71 in 2020, is an ambivalent politician a longtime law professor, she didnt run for office until 2012 and its not clear that she has the proverbial fire in the belly for a presidential bid.
Sherrod Brown, an Ohio senator, hails from a crucial swing state and has strong labor backing. Hes never seemed interested in a presidential run until now. A finalist in the 2016 Democratic veepstakes, he would be formidable in Rust Belt states. His politics match the mood, and while he might not have the raw talent of Senator Warren, hed be a strong Plan B.
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Can Joe Biden Beat Donald Trump In 2020
Two of Democratic front-runner Joe Bidens presidential rivals suggested Sunday that he might not have what it takes to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.
What I see is that every time Democrats have won since 1960, theyve won because we had a nominee that excited young people, brought together a new diverse coalition of Americans, and was able to get that victory, presidential hopeful Julian Castro said on CNN.
The winning formula in 2020 is not to play it safe, said Castro, a low-polling candidate who served in the Obama administration and is a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. Its not to believe that is if we are just little bit different from Republicans we are going to win.
Biden, 76, has positioned himself as the moderate, establishment candidate. He leads the Democratic pack in polls and consistently defeats Trump in head-to-head match-ups. But he has committed a series of gaffes on the campaign trail that have raised questions from rivals about his age and stamina.
Cracks In The Biden Foundation
So far, polling shows that Biden has benefited the most from the focus on electability. In a national mid-June Monmouth University poll, Biden significantly led the field when likely Democratic primary voters were asked to rank each candidates chance, on a 1-10 scale, of beating Trump. Fifty-nine percent of Democratic voters ranked Bidens chance of beating Trump in the three highest categories on that scale .
No one else finished that close: 39% ranked Sanders in the top three categories, 32% Warren, 24% Harris and just 17% South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. As usual in this years polls of Democratic voters, Bidens advantage on electability in that survey was especially pronounced with older voters.
But in last weeks debate Biden delivered a performance almost universally regarded as unsteady, when he was challenged most forcefully by Harris on his record on school busing during the 1970s but also by Sen. Michael Bennet on the deal he cut in 2012 with Republican Mitch McConnell during the fiscal cliff triggered by the expiration of the tax cuts that passed under President George W. Bush.
Assuming Biden is able to get his act together, he has a real base , I believe, grounded in historical dynamics that make it very hard for Harris to make further gains, Greenberg said. At some point Biden is going to push back, maybe using the President , by saying Im carrying on his legacy.
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John Hickenlooper Steve Bullock
Some Democrats will be tempted to look beyond the Beltway for a savior. Thus the appeal of a certain type of pragmatic governor.
John Hickenlooper, in his second term as Colorado governor, has built a solid economic record there while also instituting tough gun control laws and overseeing the smooth introduction of legalized marijuana. Hes also evinced a willingness for bipartisanship that has served him well in purple Colorado. Hes an offbeat enough character that its possible to see him catching fire.
Steve Bullock is a second-term governor in deep-red Montana, and hed cast himself as someone whod help Democrats broaden their electoral map beyond the coasts. Its not a bad sales pitch. But Mr. Bullock isnt much of a salesman. One joke making the rounds about him goes that if you close your eyes while hes speaking, you hear Evan Bayh.
Eric Garcetti Mitch Landrieu
Its a long step from the mayors office to the White House, but with so few Democratic governors and with the partys strength in urban areas it seems an opportune time for a Democratic mayor to take it.
Eric Garcetti, in his second term as Los Angeles mayor, is considered by many Democrats to be a top political talent. And while a run for Congress or the governors office might be more realistic, his articulation of an urban agenda, with a focus on infrastructure and immigration, could strike a chord in a presidential race.
Mitch Landrieu, wholl finish his term-limited tenure as New Orleans mayor early next year, struck a chord in May when he gave a speech explaining why the city was taking down its four Confederate monuments. In the wake of Charlottesville, his words have become even more resonant.
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On The Basis Of Sex: Gender Looms Large In 2020 Race
Reynolds and other Democrats also point to the 2018 midterms, when women were elected to office across the country at record levels, as evidence that the general election electorate could be more open to voting for a woman than some assume.
“What voters are doing now is kicking the tires of each and every candidate, and they are taking the role of selecting this nominee very, very seriously,” Patti Solis Doyle, who managed Hillary Clintons 2008 campaign, said in a phone interview with NBC News. “I think, however, when they say that a woman can’t beat Donald Trump, I just don’t believe that to be true. If you look back at the last election of 2018, not only did more women run than ever before, but more women won than ever before.”
Some academics argue that success on the congressional and state level does not necessarily translate into success on the presidential level.
“Women do quite well politically when they are perceived as being in service positions and wanting to have power as much as in that they will be serving a local constituency,” said Kate Manne, a philosophy professor at Cornell University who has about gender and politics. “Problems arise when women are trying to run for the presidency, because that is the ultimate masculine-coded authority position and one is subordinate to no one.”
Betting Odds For President Donald Trump
Before we weigh each of the Democrats chances of beating Trump, we need to look at the odds for Trump himself and determine if his chances are rising or falling.
- Then: +150
- % Change: +7.62%
- Trump has been favored to win re-election since the start of the year and his chances of winning have continued to rise in 2019. This is likely due to two factors: 1) Were slowly getting closer to the election and incumbents always have an edge and 2) The public money does not believe he will be impeached, which gives him a clear path to be on the ballot as the Republican nominee when the 2020 election rolls around whereas the Democratic nomination is much more uncertain.
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