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Can Bernie (+ VP Candidate) Win?

April 11, 2019

How can I make up my mind about that, during the primaries?  I’m trying to identify markers (below).  

I ask because we simply must get the Rs out of the Executive branch of government (like the colonists had to defeat the King).  (In mood for urgency? See Rothkopf linked in this article.)

Although I prefer a Progressive president and leader of the Dem Party, because survival depends on moving the nation in the progressive direction, fast, nevertheless I’m thinking that any D would suffice for controlling the Executive, especially if we also control the Senate, because we’ll influence the President by pushing progressive legislation and continuing to move the Party (and the nation) leftward.

At this Way Too Early moment, Bernie is the “front runner” among announced candidates, with lots to suggest that he has staying power.  (I’ll be surprised if Biden doesn’t get in, to champion the Dem corporatist—“democratic capitalist”—establishment.)  

If Bernie is nominated, the wealthy will pee their pants, and even Never Trumpers, reasonable Republicans and former Republicans, such as Jennifer Rubin (WaPo), will blow their gaskets.  Good fun.  

If Bernie wins the presidency, the base Republicans, i.e. the wealthy, the white supremacists (including racists who refuse to admit that they are racist), and the Christian Nation-alists, will do anything and everything that they can think of to keep him out of the White House, and failing that, to destroy his presidency. 

But can Bernie beat Trompf (or Pence, I still find it hard to believe that T will survive to be re-nominated—but I see that that is the depth of immorality to which the Republican Party has sunk).  If, by the Convention, it appears that he could not, then obviously Bernie should not be the Dem nominee.

Markers (?):

(1) Assuming the vote prevents R theft of victory, and figuring that an R win will have to come again via a minority of the popular vote spread for a majority of the Electoral College, the first priority for a Dem win is to spread the Dem majority of the popular vote for a majority of the EC.

So I’m thinking, at this point, that a major marker is (assuming a helpful running mate): How well would B do in the crucial EC states? Note: these are states in which the T (6) or HC (4) victory was notably close.

Here is an interactive EC map, for your delight.  As of today it opens with D 228 / R 204 / Tossup 106 (FL 29, NC 15, NH 4, PA 20, MI 16, WI 10, AZ 11, NB2 1).  Dem needs 42.  Going with that scenario, for the purposes of this page:  not bad.  Except that every one  of those tossups is in the air because an R could win it.  

So how do we get our “42”?  E.g. if we carry FL 29, we would only need 13, which seems so doable that FL is very important. After all, Gore won in 2000 by winning FL (blinking yellow light).  Marker:  What are B’s chances of carrying FL?   I haven’t the slightest, at this point; I’m keeping it a tossup, but it’s a marker.

(Sidelining FL and other combos) one’s first thought is to carry PA, MI, WI (46!), which we thought we could do in 2016, and came gut-wrenchingly, history-changingly close.  I’m thinking this is a major marker:  How well might B do in PA, MI, WI?  There was much thought during the 2016 primaries that B was popular with Upper Midwest voters. Will that continue?  If it does, that’s a big plus for him.

On April 27 Bernie will launch a fifty-state campaign, with at least one house party (and I assume campaign HQ/team) in each state.  Obviously Howard Dean was right about Dems competing in every state, all the time.  Has the Party leadership figured that out?

(2)  Frank Bruni (NYT), in his April 10 e-newsletter, writes:

In 2016, Sanders forged a strong connection with young Democrats, but can he stir the requisite excitement among women and minorities in the party and unify the entire Democratic coalition, from left to center?

Voila.  5 markers:  I’ll be watching for evidence that B, + his running mate (especially important this time) sufficiently enhances his appeal to young voters and gets them out to vote / excites women voters / excites black voters / excites Hispanic voters —i.e. the majority group and the large minority groups.  And adequately unites the Dem Party  (at which he will be helped by T and his Rs), with sufficient flexibility to support Center Ds locally.  I do think that a factor in this would be the degree of acceptance of his candidacy by the D establishment, some of whom would also be peeing their pants. (Would Obama and HC campaign for him?)

(3)  I’ll extrapolate 2 negative markers from Bruni:  How much does B’s democratic socialist philosophy of society and governance (anti-Reagan, B’s slogan:   “Not Me, Us”), and the Russo-R demonization of the “socialist” label, hurt B with voters who would otherwise vote D ?

Bruni also notes that Trompf will be harder to defeat if the economy is perceived as good. Supposing it is, can B persuade voters that his vision would make things even better for them?

(4) But I’ll turn that neg into a positive.  Marker:  Does B’s persona gain voters by contrast to the villain Trompf”s?  In 1976 a key to Jimmy Carter’s win was his pledge (this seems quaint) that he would “never lie to the American people,” in stark contrast to the villainous Nixon.

By B’s persona, I mean voter perception of his entire public personality: his message ( e.g. progressive Dem vision and and sober, balanced B foreign policy) plus the sense of his personal consistency, integrity, emotional substance and strength. Who are You, dear voter, in his eye of eyes?  Not just does he have good ideas, but does he really care, and will he follow through?  How far will he go for You? 

In 2016 the narcissistic, self-serving Trompf turned himself into a psychological image of The Vengeful Savior who is especially attentive to Your plight (different groups read into that their own identifications of whom they wanted revenge upon and salvation from, e.g. East Coast Elites, brown immigrant rapists).  As Greg Sargent (WaPo) points out, T is announcing that his 2020 strategy will be a doubling down on “cruelty, lies, hate.”  I’ll add bloodlust and outlaw violence.  For instance, his wall image will be enhanced with claims that Dems want “open boarders” (social chaos, loss of white privilege), when America is already chock full (he will not say, “no room at the inn”).

Bernie is not falling for the “open borders” ploi; but furthermore his persona, rooted in his family history, and publically developed consistently since his participation in the Civil Fights Movement, convinces many people who consider T a villain that he is the opposite of the demonic Joker that T has revealed to us. Bernie is genuinely empathetic and compassionate, clear-eyed about the issues and fearless in confronting them, and committed to giving his all, to help humanity (including both You and the refugee on the border).  For his supporters, “Bernie” = a real mensch.  That’s the persona.  I’ll be watching to see whether it attracts increasing support.

Breathe your breath.

[First thoughts when B announced his candidacy.]

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