Feb 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The evidence doesn't back Democrats' panic that Bernie can't win

Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane at a rally in Austin on Sunday.
Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane at a rally in Austin on Sunday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Lots of Democrats are in full panic that Bernie Sanders will win the nomination and get clobbered in the general election — and bring the party down, too. But the evidence, particularly the polling, doesn't back those doomsday warnings.

Why it matters: Virtually every national and swing state poll shows Sanders tied with or beating President Trump.  And, unlike every rival, he has a huge base of fervent, unshakable supporters he can only grow.

Just the facts, please: A Quinnipiac Poll last week showed Sanders beating Trump in Michigan and Pennsylvania. A CBS News/YouGov poll showed Sanders beating Trump nationally.

  • Texas Lyceum poll shows Sanders doing better against Trump in Texas than any Democrat, losing by just three points.

He’s socially savvier: Sanders has much larger followings on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms than his rivals — and has consistently shown new media sophistication others lack. 

Loyalty matters: The guy’s base writes checks regularly, for years now, making him the best-funded non-billionaire in the Democratic game. His supporters also show up — on social, at rallies, in elections. Ask Trump if this matters. 

Socialism hasn’t killed him: It’s not like Sanders hides his big government socialism — he has screamed it to the nation for a half-decade. Maybe voters don’t care, just like 45% don’t care about Trump’s outlandishness.

Peter Hamby, who works for Snapchat and writes for Vanity Fair, argues "bed-wetting" Democrats might have it all wrong:

  • "Instead of asking if Sanders is unelectable, ask another question: What if Sanders is actually the MOST electable Democrat? In the age of Trump, hyper-partisanship, institutional distrust, and social media, Sanders could be examined as a candidate almost custom-built to go head-to-head with Trump this year."
  • He’s a Trump-like celebrity: "Running for president has always been about winning the attention war, and the competition for attention has never been more difficult than it is in 2020,” Hamby writes. Sanders has way more old-school and new-age celebrity than the rest of his rivals combined. 

The bottom line: The truth is we are all clueless about what voters want or will accept. That includes everyone on Twitter, inside the Democratic establishment — and me!

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