How Bernie might beat Trump

Although we are relatively early in the process, it is probable that, barring some unforeseen turn of events (for example, a health issue), Bernie Sanders will be the Democrat presidential nominee.   The left-leaning but respected prognostication site FiveThirtyEight says Sanders will most likely take the nomination, and the mainstream press have generally anointed him the frontrunner.   Conventional wisdom says this is good for President Trump as the betting flips against Sanders in the general election, with some odds as low as 15% for a Sanders victory.  But there are no guarantees in politics, and much the same things were said about Trump in 2016.  So it is worth considering how Sanders might win a general election.

There's no question that the Democrat establishment is terrified of a Sanders nomination.  Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, who represents Democrat pedestrian punditry as well as anyone, quickly discounted Sanders's New Hampshire victory, claiming not to "understand how Bernie can be a frontrunner."  This is because fellow Democrat travelers in the mainstream media like longtime columnist David Frum are certain that "Bernie Can't Win" and that in a general election against Trump, Sanders and his campaign will be "shredded and torched."

It certainly appears that Trump would relish a run against Sanders, whom he can relentlessly and not unreasonably argue is a dangerous socialist kook.  Sanders can make the volatile and unpredictable Trump seem stable and safe by comparison, undermining that key Democrat talking point of returning Washington to its supposedly decent and normal routines.

This latter point is important for gaining the suburban female vote, which in 2018 gave the Democrats the House and turned formerly red states like Virginia blue.  The Democrats locking up that vote, especially among independents, and generating a large pro-Democrat turnout of loyal black Americans, could hand Sanders a victory in November, despite the Vermont senator's negatives. 

As it stands, general polling of a potential Trump vs. Sanders matchup gives Sanders the edge by a wide margin.  In the latest Quinnipiac poll, all the Democrat frontrunners win against Trump, with Sanders beating the incumbent 51–43%.  Betting markets frequently contradict polling but have often been wrong regarding Democrats so far in the nomination race.  And Quinnipiac was heavily criticized by Democrats in 2016 for giving Trump the edge in key states but turned out to be right.  FiveThirtyEight rates Quinnipiac's polling accuracy as average, which should be disturbing to Republicans, given the large leads all Democrats get against Trump.

How can Sanders get such numbers?  Because it's hard to overestimate the loathing Trump engenders in certain key constituencies. 

Despite a good economy and excellent unemployment numbers, particularly as they pertain to black Americans, at least publicly, it's hard to find anything but open contempt for the president among blacks, usually accompanied by the term "racist."  This may be a false narrative put out by a biased mainstream press, celebrities, and social media mavens, but that's not changing going into the general election. 

Sanders's promises of government largess won't really benefit black Americans, either, because Sanders promises handouts across the board.  That's why white, "privileged" Bernie Bros support him.  In the zero-sum game that's the real-world budgeting, and not Bernietopia, blacks will get relatively less.  That plus Trump's outreach to the black American community could siphon off some black voters, or drive down turnout.  But it's still a big "if," given Trump's public disapproval within the black community.   

Likewise the key suburban female vote.  Reasonably well-to-do women with mortgages, kids, good employer-based health insurance, and 401(k)s used to be a Republican constituency.  That's changed in recent years, not only because of Trump, but because of ideologically leftist schooling and the pro-Democrat media barrage.  If Sanders wins, those 401(k)s will almost certainly crash, and the kids will probably lose their doctors.  Trump might win some votes back on that account if it overrides personal distaste for his conduct, but again, a big "if."

Blacks, suburban women, and anyone decently off in this country — which is most people — will have to vote against their own economic interests for Sanders to win.  History says they might.  Blacks do it every election cycle, and so do Jews.  In Sanders's case, Jews will vote for him, not because of his ethnicity, and despite his anti-Zionism, but simply because he is a Democrat and not named Trump. 

Plus the media will do their best to normalize Sanders and downplay his radicalism, which has already begun.  That will help calm the fears of independents and those ladies in the 'burbs. 

In the end, Democrats are going to overwhelmingly vote for Sanders, and Republicans for Trump.  Independent voters will decide the election.  Among independents, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC poll, 60% approve of Trump's handling of the economy, but only 42% give him a positive overall approval rating.  In that divide, the election will be won or lost. 

There might be a relatively easy way for Trump to lessen this divide and ease his re-election.  Ride the wave of his economic successes, stay off Twitter for a few months, and use the power of incumbency.  Let wacky old socialist Sanders, a loudmouthed professional gadfly with almost no actual accomplishments, scare off independents, including those nice suburban ladies.

Trump's not going to do that.  So a general election against Sanders will more likely be a nail-biter than a Trump landslide, with the fate of the country in the balance.

Image: Phil Roeder via Flickr.

Although we are relatively early in the process, it is probable that, barring some unforeseen turn of events (for example, a health issue), Bernie Sanders will be the Democrat presidential nominee.   The left-leaning but respected prognostication site FiveThirtyEight says Sanders will most likely take the nomination, and the mainstream press have generally anointed him the frontrunner.   Conventional wisdom says this is good for President Trump as the betting flips against Sanders in the general election, with some odds as low as 15% for a Sanders victory.  But there are no guarantees in politics, and much the same things were said about Trump in 2016.  So it is worth considering how Sanders might win a general election.

There's no question that the Democrat establishment is terrified of a Sanders nomination.  Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, who represents Democrat pedestrian punditry as well as anyone, quickly discounted Sanders's New Hampshire victory, claiming not to "understand how Bernie can be a frontrunner."  This is because fellow Democrat travelers in the mainstream media like longtime columnist David Frum are certain that "Bernie Can't Win" and that in a general election against Trump, Sanders and his campaign will be "shredded and torched."

It certainly appears that Trump would relish a run against Sanders, whom he can relentlessly and not unreasonably argue is a dangerous socialist kook.  Sanders can make the volatile and unpredictable Trump seem stable and safe by comparison, undermining that key Democrat talking point of returning Washington to its supposedly decent and normal routines.

This latter point is important for gaining the suburban female vote, which in 2018 gave the Democrats the House and turned formerly red states like Virginia blue.  The Democrats locking up that vote, especially among independents, and generating a large pro-Democrat turnout of loyal black Americans, could hand Sanders a victory in November, despite the Vermont senator's negatives. 

As it stands, general polling of a potential Trump vs. Sanders matchup gives Sanders the edge by a wide margin.  In the latest Quinnipiac poll, all the Democrat frontrunners win against Trump, with Sanders beating the incumbent 51–43%.  Betting markets frequently contradict polling but have often been wrong regarding Democrats so far in the nomination race.  And Quinnipiac was heavily criticized by Democrats in 2016 for giving Trump the edge in key states but turned out to be right.  FiveThirtyEight rates Quinnipiac's polling accuracy as average, which should be disturbing to Republicans, given the large leads all Democrats get against Trump.

How can Sanders get such numbers?  Because it's hard to overestimate the loathing Trump engenders in certain key constituencies. 

Despite a good economy and excellent unemployment numbers, particularly as they pertain to black Americans, at least publicly, it's hard to find anything but open contempt for the president among blacks, usually accompanied by the term "racist."  This may be a false narrative put out by a biased mainstream press, celebrities, and social media mavens, but that's not changing going into the general election. 

Sanders's promises of government largess won't really benefit black Americans, either, because Sanders promises handouts across the board.  That's why white, "privileged" Bernie Bros support him.  In the zero-sum game that's the real-world budgeting, and not Bernietopia, blacks will get relatively less.  That plus Trump's outreach to the black American community could siphon off some black voters, or drive down turnout.  But it's still a big "if," given Trump's public disapproval within the black community.   

Likewise the key suburban female vote.  Reasonably well-to-do women with mortgages, kids, good employer-based health insurance, and 401(k)s used to be a Republican constituency.  That's changed in recent years, not only because of Trump, but because of ideologically leftist schooling and the pro-Democrat media barrage.  If Sanders wins, those 401(k)s will almost certainly crash, and the kids will probably lose their doctors.  Trump might win some votes back on that account if it overrides personal distaste for his conduct, but again, a big "if."

Blacks, suburban women, and anyone decently off in this country — which is most people — will have to vote against their own economic interests for Sanders to win.  History says they might.  Blacks do it every election cycle, and so do Jews.  In Sanders's case, Jews will vote for him, not because of his ethnicity, and despite his anti-Zionism, but simply because he is a Democrat and not named Trump. 

Plus the media will do their best to normalize Sanders and downplay his radicalism, which has already begun.  That will help calm the fears of independents and those ladies in the 'burbs. 

In the end, Democrats are going to overwhelmingly vote for Sanders, and Republicans for Trump.  Independent voters will decide the election.  Among independents, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC poll, 60% approve of Trump's handling of the economy, but only 42% give him a positive overall approval rating.  In that divide, the election will be won or lost. 

There might be a relatively easy way for Trump to lessen this divide and ease his re-election.  Ride the wave of his economic successes, stay off Twitter for a few months, and use the power of incumbency.  Let wacky old socialist Sanders, a loudmouthed professional gadfly with almost no actual accomplishments, scare off independents, including those nice suburban ladies.

Trump's not going to do that.  So a general election against Sanders will more likely be a nail-biter than a Trump landslide, with the fate of the country in the balance.

Image: Phil Roeder via Flickr.