Electability and the Candidate That Shall Not Be Named

Before we get into the post, my usual disclaimer that, were I to vote in the Democratic primary today, I would vote for Warren. Onto the post.

This week, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders caused a lot of butthurt when he accused the Washington Post, owned by Amazon CEO and richest guy on the planet Jeff Bezos, of being biased against his campaign. That’s certainly a fair criticism for the 2016 campaign where, in one 24 hour period, the Washington Post published sixteen anti-Sanders pieces (and none in favor). But in 2019, my general sense is that Sanders is facing something quite different: he is simply being ignored. In many polls, Sanders is behind Biden and still ahead of the rest of the field and that’s just not very exciting (to be honest, primary season is usually quite boring). Yet articles will discuss Biden, Warren, Buttigieg, and Harris, but ignore Sanders, even though he’s still in a reasonable position to win (if not the front runner).

The other issue Sanders is facing is the electability canard. Consider this recent poll (boldface mine):

President Donald Trump would endure a resounding defeat against potential 2020 contenders Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, according to a new SurveyUSA poll that surveyed registered voters about their preferred choices in hypothetical, head-to-head matchups.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and independent Senator Bernie Sanders, both currently competing for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, would trounce Trump by eight points in the popular vote, according to the poll.

Biden and Sanders earned the support of 50 percent of U.S. registered voters, SurveyUSA found, while Trump lagged behind at 42-percent support

Candidates such as senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris edged out Trump in potential runoffs, but their leads weren’t wide enough to overcome the margin of error. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was measured at 42 percent, two points behind Trump in a potential matchup…

Sanders comes out atop the Democratic pack among Independent voters, who prefer him to Trump by 10 points. Biden is the only other candidate preferred to Trump by Independents

Poorer voters prefer the Democratic candidates just as fervently. Sanders earned their support with a two-to-one share over Trump and Biden tops Trump with poor voters by 29 points.

Even though he is just as formidable against the ‘electable’ Biden, Sanders still isn’t taken seriously by much of the press corps. This is bad for several reasons. First, Sanders supporters will feel aggrieved–and that’s not going to help. Second, and perhaps most importantly, as long as Sanders and Warren are both in the running, it will be much harder to demonize left-ish policy positions: the moment one of them drops out, the other will be dogpiled as a radical. Sanders is an excellent blocking fullback for Warren (or vice versa). Third, Sanders is willing to punch the political press corps, and they desperately need a good punching.


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