Thursday, February 13, 2020


The Price of a Bloomberg Nomination Is Too Damn High

This is what plutocracy looks like. Photo: Melissa Gerrits/Getty Images
In the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, Democrats made a concerted effort to fortify their party’s pro-democracy and anti-corruption bona fides. Their opening salvo in the 2018 midterm campaign was the “Better Deal Agenda,” a suite of policies aimed at combating concentrated corporate power and the “armies of lobbyists” that had given big money a “stranglehold on Washington.” The first bill Nancy Pelosi’s majority passed upon taking the House was a package of voting-rights expansions and campaign-finance reforms designed to ensure that our “government works for the public interest, the people’s interest, not the special interest.” And throughout the Trump era, Democrats have hammered the president for helping the superrich translate their economic power into the political variety.
But the party may let a megabillionaire openly purchase its 2020 nomination anyway.
Mike Bloomberg has offered blue America a Faustian bargain: Forfeit all credibility on the issues of money in politics and democratic reform, and he will spend whatever it takes to make the bad man in the White House go away. The market for what Bloomberg is selling is large and growing, thanks in no small part to the $300 million he’s already spent advertising it. Many rank-and-file Democrats — like so many disillusioned voters in democracies the world over — like the idea of hiring a no-nonsense, post-political businessman to fix their broken government (just, you know, a less ostentatiously racist one than America’s current CEO). Meanwhile, many Democratic elites see Bloomberg as a (slightly unsavory) savior who can single-handedly stop the party from nominating a supposedly unelectable socialist, provide its vulnerable first-term suburban House members with an ideal standard-bearer, and liberate the party from all resource constraints and fundraising headaches as it rides a rising tide of billionaire bucks back into power.
But Democrats would be fools to accept Bloomberg’s indecent proposal.
I’m not an anti-big-dollar-donor purist. Removing an increasingly lawlessopenly racist president from power is more integral to realizing our nation’s democratic promise than keeping our side’s FEC records pristine (as even Bernie Sanders seems to understand). Bloomberg has said that he’s willing to put his well-heeled campaign operation behind the Democratic nominee this fall, even if that nominee proves to be a self-avowed socialist. If the former mayor is telling the truth — if he is truly willing to choose social democracy over barbarism, and bankroll a Democratic candidate who is openly hostile to the billionaire class — then Democrats should probably take his money and run.
But accepting a plutocrat’s patronage and letting your party serve as a vehicle for him to amass direct, personal power over our government are two very different propositions.
As a political matter, allowing a Wall Street tycoon to win the Democratic nomination by leveraging his personal fortune to outbid all of his rivals (and many state and local Democratic Party organizations) for top-shelf campaign staff, and inundate the airwaves with an unprecedentedly exorbitant blitzkrieg of paid messaging, would deprive Democrats of what has long been their chief electoral asset: the perception that their party is less beholden to the rich than the GOP.
Every presidential election cycle, the American National Election Studies (ANES) survey offers respondents the opportunity to say, in their own words, what they like or dislike about the two major parties and their presidential candidates. When Boston University political scientist Spencer Piston examined the results the 2008 ANES, he found that one of voters’ most commonly cited reasons for liking Barack Obama — and disliking John McCain — was the belief that Democrats cared about the poor (who get less than they deserve from our government), while Republicans cared too much about the rich (who already get more than their fair share). Across the voters’ responses, Piston found 263 mentions of “the rich” or synonyms for the rich. Only six of those mentions were favorable.
In subsequent research, Piston found that this “resentment of the rich” played a key role in Obama’s 2012 reelection. Using data from the ANES 2013 “recontact survey,” he demonstrated that believing the wealthy have more than they deserve strongly correlated with support for Obama, even when controlling for partisanship, ideology, attitudes toward income inequality, and demographic characteristics. Which is to say, a white “moderate” swing voter who evinced strong resentment of the rich was significantly more likely to vote for the incumbent Democrat than one who lacked such class animosity. All told, resentment of the rich was “associated with an increase in the probability of voting for Obama of 11 percentage points.”
Many other surveys have confirmed that Republicans pay an electoral penalty for their perceived fealty to the wealthy. It is hard to believe that Democrats could nominate a Wall Street tycoon without eroding this vital source of partisan advantage. Hillary Clinton’s mere perceived coziness with such fat cats, combined with her decision to largely elide class-based appeals in paid messaging, was (ostensibly) sufficient to undermine the Democrats’ populist edge four years ago; according to Piston’s analysis, “resentment of the rich” ceased to be predictive of partisan preference in 2016.
Photo: PEW Research Center
Some may regard this as a price worth paying. Given the Democrats’ growing reliance on affluent suburbanites, and the GOP’s growing margins with white non-college-educated voters, you might regard the Donkey Party’s fading populist credibility as a fait accompli. But nominating Bloomberg wouldn’t just confirm the right’s caricature of liberal hypocrisy on the small matter of creeping plutocracy; it would also make Democrats look like raging hypocrites on just about every major article of the party’s putative faith.
In the Trump era, Democrats have mined grassroots activism and moral purpose from the Me Too movement. The party’s 2018 triumph owed a great deal to college-educated women who’d been radicalized by the pussy-grabber-in-chief’s election, and mobilized by the realization that the routine misogyny that had shadowed their working lives was a political problem with a political solution. What message would the Democratic Party be sending to that constituency if they nominated a man with this record:
From 1996 to 1997, four women filed sexual-harassment or discrimination suits against Bloomberg the company. One of the suits included the following allegation: When Sekiko Sakai Garrison, a sales representative at the company, told Mike Bloomberg she was pregnant, he replied, “Kill it!” (Bloomberg went on, she alleged, to mutter, “Great, No. 16”—a reference, her complaint said, to the 16 women at the company who were then pregnant.) To these allegations, Garrison added another one: Even prior to her pregnancy, she claimed, Bloomberg had antagonized her by making disparaging comments about her appearance and sexual desirability. “What, is the guy dumb and blind?” he is alleged to have said upon seeing her wearing an engagement ring. “What the hell is he marrying you for?”

Bloomberg denied having made those comments, claiming that he passed a lie-detector test validating the denial but declining to release the results. (He also reportedly left Garrison a voicemail upon hearing that she’d been upset by the comments about her pregnancy: “I didn’t say it, but if I said it, I didn’t mean it.”) What Bloomberg reportedly did concede is that he had said of Garrison and other women, “I’d do her.” In making the concession, however, he insisted that he had believed that to “do” someone meant merely “to have a personal relationship” with them.

That suit was settled in 2000; its terms were not disclosed. Other suits made similar claims. In a 1998 filing, Mary Ann Olszewski reported that “male employees from Mr. Bloomberg on down” routinely belittled women at the company—a pattern of harassment, she said, that culminated in her being raped in a Chicago hotel room by a Bloomberg executive who was also her direct superior. The case was dismissed (not, apparently, on its merits, but rather because Olszewski’s attorney had missed the deadlines to respond to a motion to end the case). Before it was, though, in a deposition relating to the suit, Bloomberg testified that he wouldn’t consider Olszewski’s rape allegation to be genuine unless there were “an unimpeachable third-party witness” to corroborate her claims. (Asked by a lawyer how such a person might happen to witness a rape, Bloomberg replied, “There are times when three people are together.”)
Some details of Bloomberg’s mistreatment of his female subordinates remain disputed, with the allegations sheltered from public view by nondisclosure agreements that the candidate refuses to waive. But there is no debate about whether Bloomberg routinely subjected the women at his companies to misogynistic “banter” (one of the mogul’s favorite workplace jokes: “If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of Bloomingdale’s”). The billionaire acknowledged and apologized for this habit shortly after launching his campaign.
Democrats fancy themselves the party of civil rights and racial justice. Conservatives counter that liberals’ avowed anti-racism is largely opportunistic, rooted less in concern for the well-being of minority groups than the utility of the “race card” as a political weapon. How much harder will it be for Democrats to rebut that (mendacious) charge, if we decide to nominate a man who:
• Argued that the rollback of racially discriminatory housing policies was largely to blame for the 2008 financial crisis.
• Forthrightly championed a method of policing that he proudly described as racially discriminatory, and which a federal judge declared unconstitutional (a fact Trump’s reelection campaign is already eagerly spotlighting).
• Subjected entire Muslim communities to state surveillance on the basis of nothing beyond their religious faith.
If Bloomberg is telling the truth — if Democrats will have his financial backing no matter whom they nominate — why on Earth would the party accept these liabilities? Because they can’t win without Bloomberg’s raw animal magnetism?
Alternatively, if Bloomberg is bluffing to curry favor with Democratic primary voters and would withhold resources if the party nominates a candidate he dislikes, then Democrats cannot trust him with the presidency anyway. The same personal fortune that would free the Democratic Party from cash constraints this fall would also liberate a President Bloomberg from partisan constraints once in office. If the plutocratic president decides to find common ground with a Republican Senate on Social Security cuts, what leverage will the Democratic Party have over “their” White House? The party will always need Bloomberg’s fundraising prowess more than he will need theirs.
Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, and Amy Klobuchar are not on my wavelength ideologically. I find much of the former South Bend mayor’s rhetoric vacuous, the former vice-president’s oratory unnervingly incoherent, and the Minnesota senator’s history of abusing her staff unacceptable. But none of them are running campaigns that make an open mockery of our nation’s democratic aspirations, or the Democratic Party’s purported opposition to plutocracy. And none of them could substitute personal wealth for the support of the Democratic coalition upon taking power. The AFL-CIO will have influence over a Klobuchar administration’s labor regulations and NLRB appointments because Amy Klobuchar will need its support when she runs for reelection. The ACLU and Movement for Black Lives will have some voice in a Buttigieg White House because the former small-town mayor will not be able to afford forfeiting the backing of any part of his party’s base. The reason to “vote blue, no matter who” is that you are not just electing a candidate, but a coalition. A Bernie Sanders administration will surely do many important things differently than a Joe Biden one. But they would also do many things similarly, because they will be dependent on the support of almost all of the same constituencies. That won’t necessarily be true of President Bloomberg.
Michael Bloomberg is not a monster. By the standards set by other megabillionaires, he’s probably closer to a saint. While his fellow plutocrats have concentrated their political investments on accelerating the upward redistribution of wealth, Bloomberg has supplied ample resources to combating gun violence, checking Donald Trump’s power, and averting catastrophic climate change. His work on the latter issue has been especially valuable. If he would like to continue making recompense for the uglier aspects of his record by bankrolling the resistance to authoritarian ethno-nationalism in the U.S., Democrats should let him purchase their indulgences. But they must keep their party’s soul out of his price range.


The GOP Elite Couldn’t Stop Trump in 2016. But Maybe Democrats Can Stop Bernie.

Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe via Getty Images
Democratic Party insiders have begun freaking out (justifiably, in my view) about the possibility Bernie Sanders will head the ticket. “Unless another Democrat rapidly consolidates support,” the New York Times notes, “Mr. Sanders could continue to win primaries and caucuses without broadening his political appeal, purely on the strength of his rock-solid base on the left — a prospect that alarms Democratic Party leaders who view Mr. Sanders and his slogan of democratic socialism as wildly risky bets in a general election.”
You’ve probably heard this before, and you probably think you know how it ends. Republicans were equally terrified of nominating Trump in 2016 (who, despite all his liabilities, wound up squeaking out an improbable win, with assists from the Electoral College, the FBI, and Russian intelligence). Yet his rivals attacked each other in a bid to be the last non-Trump standing, and the party failed to organize an effective and unified opposition. Trump prevailed and showed just how hapless the party is.
That same strategy may work for Sanders. But what if it doesn’t? What if the party … decides?
If that phrase sounds vaguely familiar, allow me to refresh your memory. Four years ago, The Party Decides was the fashionable book for the cognoscenti. Its thesis held that party networks had ways of influencing primaries to ensure their preferred nominee won.
What gave the book special appeal was how closely it predicted the 2012 Republican primary, the only contested race of that year. A series of bombastic right-wing populists emerged and captured the imagination of the voters, but all collapsed, as if dragged down by an invisible force, as uninspiring elite fave Mitt Romney prevailed. The Party Decides was a pithy name for that invisible force.
Of course, that thesis turned out to be the worst possible guide for understanding the 2016 Republican primary. As Trump made a mockery of the party’s power, the book went from Rosetta stone to punch line.
Clearly, The Party Decides should not be taken as an iron law of history. Indeed, its authors proceeded to conclude that recent changes to the system “have made it easier for factional candidates and outsiders to challenge elite control of nominations.” At the same time, we should consider the possibility that the party’s power, while less absolute than we thought before Trump, is not negligible.
One reason to think this is the case is that a lesson from the Republican Party can’t always be faithfully imported to the Democratic Party. The parties are different from each other (as we have learned from the political-science research about asymmetric polarization, which has held up). The Republican-aligned media has spent years lambasting its leaders as feckless losers. The conservative base has goaded its leaders into a series of crusades that leaders knew to be counterproductive, but were afraid to stand in the way of, for fear of being called sellouts. Intermittent government shutdowns and endless chasing of birther and Benghazi conspiracies were all precursors of the dynamic that produced Trump.
Democrats have almost none of that. Most Democratic voters, unlike most Republican ones, want their party to be more moderate, not less, and believe in compromise over confrontation. The Democratic Party elite is much less afraid of being seen as squishy than the Republican elite.
Second, we’re seeing some of the anti-Sanders coordination in action right now. In the Nevada primary, the Las Vegas Sun endorsement is a plea not to support Sanders, and the powerful Culinary Workers Union is denouncing his Medicare for All plan. Democrats from vulnerable districts are making increasingly public pleas to the same effect. “One House Democrat said colleagues from swing districts are scared by the prospects of a Sanders nomination, while another said moderates are increasingly concerned that a Sanders candidacy would devastate their prospects for winning the White House and retaining the House,” reports the Associated Press. All these efforts could easily fail, but they are probably not completely ineffectual.
A third reason is a very simple one. People often assume the thing that happened most recently will keep happening. Analysts (including me) dismissed Trump’s chances in 2016 because we overlearned the lesson of 2012. Maybe we’re overestimating Bernie’s populist insurgency in 2020 because we’re overlearning the lesson of 2016. Instead of moving the Party Decides slider from 100 to 0, perhaps we should have set it somewhere in between.
Nobody can be sure how the primary will go. A Democratic version of Trump’s long, slow bludgeoning of the party elite is certainly one very possible outcome. It is not destiny.

Rather than Hope and Change, Obama is delivering corporate socialism to America, all while claiming he’s battling corporate America. It’s corporate welfare and regulatory robbery—it’s Obamanomics.

“Records show that four out of Obama's top five contributors are employees of financial industry giants - Goldman Sachs ($571,330), UBS AG ($364,806), JPMorgan Chase ($362,207) and Citigroup ($358,054).”

Why aren’t the Wall Street criminals prosecuted? 

In May 2012, only days after JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon revealed that his bank had lost billions of dollars in speculative bets, President Barack Obama publicly defended the multi-millionaire CEO, calling him “one of the smartest bankers we’ve got.” What Obama did not mention is that Dimon is a criminal. 

JPMorgan is not the exception; it is the rule. Virtually every major bank that operates on Wall Street has settled charges of fraud and criminality on a staggering scale. In 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a 630-page report on the financial crash of 2008 documenting what the committee chairman called “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing.” 

These multiple crimes by serial lawbreakers have had very real and very destructive consequences. The entire world has been plunged into an economic slump that has already lasted more than five years and shows no signs of abating. Tens of millions of families have lost their homes as a result of predatory mortgages pushed by JPMorgan and other Wall Street banks.

INCEST! The case of bankster-owned 

Barack Obama and crony Jamie Dimon of
JP MORGAN… their looting continues!


Bernie Sanders Must Pivot to the Senior Center

Bernie must sell his peers on a “Gray New Deal.” Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the Democratic nomination is going well. His “political revolution,” less so.
The contests in Iowa and New Hampshire went far better for the socialist senator than many in the mainstream press seem to realize. Yes, Sanders did not significantly outperform his polling in either state. And yes, his margins of victory in the popular vote were meager. But the modesty of his wins is less significant than the enormity of his chief rivals’ losses. Joe Biden was Sanders’s top national competitor, and the one moderate with a deep-seated appeal to older African-American voters. Now, Uncle Joe’s candidacy is on life support. If the electoral Gods had appeared before Bernie Sanders in January and asked him to choose between (1) winning Iowa and New Hampshire by triple his actual margins, but with Joe Biden finishing as his runner-up in both states, or (2) settling for his actual, narrow (popular vote) wins, with Biden finishing fourth and then fifth, the socialist senator would be a fool to take the former. And if such deities had sweetened option No. 2 by offering to put Elizabeth Warren in third and then a distant fourth? Sanders would deserve Trump’s epithet if he didn’t opt for the hand he’s actually been dealt.
After all, that hand has awarded Sanders a higher probability of becoming the Democratic nominee than any other candidate, according to both FiveThirtyEight’s model and the betting markets. And it isn’t hard to see what those algorithms and gambling addicts are thinking: Bernie’s intraparty ideological rivals have not only failed to consolidate behind a single standard-bearer; two of the finalists they’ve anointed for that title have negligible black support and fledgling national operations — while the third will need to overcome a late start, an exceptionally low approval rating with Democratic voters, and the aversion that at least some primary voters are bound to feel toward seeing a mega-billionaire all but literally purchase their party’s nomination.
And yet, if Sanders is going to capitalize on what’s gone well for him thus far, his campaign will need to grapple with what has not. The Vermont senator’s professed game plan for winning his adopted party’s nomination — flooding the primary electorate with formerly disaffected, first-time voters — shows few signs of viability. Turnout was more robust in New Hampshire than in Iowa, but Sanders was not the main beneficiary of that surge: According to exit polls, Pete Buttigieg beat Sanders with first-time primary voters by a margin of 29 to 25 percent — and among voters who didn’t cast a ballot in the 2016 primary by a margin of 29 to 14 percent. Exit polls are infamously imprecise. But they are not so unreliable as to transform a “revolutionary” surge in anti-establishment voter participation into a mere uptick in pro-Pete turnout. Meanwhile, despite their extraordinary levels of support for Sanders in opinion polls, turnout among voters under 30 was unremarkable in both of the primary’s opening states.
None of this means that Sanders should forfeit all hope of expanding the electorate. Given that the vast majority of reliable general-election voters don’t participate in primaries, bringing longtime nonvoters into that process was always more of a stretch than mobilizing them against Trump in November. Which is to say: Just because Sanders didn’t juice turnout among the unreliable independents (who view him quite favorably) in New Hampshire doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t in Wisconsin this autumn. But it does mean he can’t count on doing the latter. And it also means that his campaign must operate from the premise that its road to the nomination runs through the hearts and minds of “normie” Democrats.
Sanders would be wise to make some messaging adjustments in deference to this reality. The simplest of these is one that his campaign has already begun to make. The Vermont senator never had much reason to fret about his support among younger voters, and with Warren fading, his grip on the rising generations is liable to grow stronger. But he needs to improve his standing with his peers.
In practical terms, this means putting greater emphasis on what his platform has to offer America’s seniors — which, fortunately, is quite a lot. Few groups are more reliant on America’s existing welfare state, or in need of its expansion, than our senior citizens. The former fact has, somewhat ironically, been one of the defining challenges for the U.S. left over the past half-century: By securing public health insurance and a basic income for older Americans, Democrats inadvertently shrank the constituency for more universal social democratic reforms. Faced with perpetual (and often bipartisan) calls for paring back the deficit and excessive government spending, many older voters have come to view calls for expanding economic rights as threats to their own. Typically, such voters rationalize this hoarding of state support by imagining that their benefits were all “earned” through the taxes they paid earlier in life (in truth, the average Social Security and Medicare beneficiary receives far more from Uncle Sam than he or she ever paid in).
But the growing insufficiency of seniors’ existing benefits offers the left an opportunity. Owing in part to gains in life expectancy among the elderly, an American turning 65 today has somewhere between a 50 and 70 percent chance of eventually requiring long-term support by the end of his or her life. And yet, the U.S. is nearly alone among wealthy nations in lacking a universal long-term-care benefit. What’s more, as James Medlock and Colin McAuliffe of Data for Progress note, the U.S. spends far less on long-term care (as a percentage of its GDP) than the vast majority of OECD countries.
If the federal government does not step in and provide more funding for home health-care workers and quality live-in facilities, then millions of older Americans will be at risk of spending their “golden years” in conditions of harrowing deprivation, while millions of younger Americans will see their own ambitions compromised by the burdens of caring for their elders. Critically, for those who do not qualify for Medicaid’s long-term care coverage (or who live in a state with a stingy Medicaid program), the costs of such care are exorbitant enough to burden even relatively well-off seniors. Which means that Bernie Sanders’s proposals for universal long-term care and increasing Social Security benefits should appeal to the (disproportionately affluent) older Democratic voters who reliably turnout in primary elections. Public support for universal long-term care is so strong, a 2019 Tufts University/Data For Progress (DFP) survey found 60 percent of all registered voters endorsing the proposal, even when told it would require a 1.5 percent payroll tax increase and presented with Republican counterarguments. And support was markedly higher among older respondents than younger ones. A separate DFP poll found even broader support for increasing Social Security benefits, with 76 percent of all voters — and 89 percent of Democratic ones — approving of the policy.
The Sanders campaign has already made a concerted effort to heighten the salience of Social Security, first by spotlighting Joe Biden’s past support for cutting the program, and more recently by attacking President Trump for his new budget’s proposed cuts to various forms of social spending that benefit the elderly. He’d be well-advised to combine such critiques with more prominent advocacy for his own agenda for aiding older Americans. And it wouldn’t hurt for him to say explicitly that — if he has the Senate votes to improve Medicare benefits for some, but not to extend Medicare for All — he wouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of seniors’ new public goods. Meanwhile, Sanders might want to try sprinkling a little septuagenarian identity politics atop his debate answers and stump speeches. His periodic reminiscences about the Brooklyn Dodgers may serve this function for the purposes of the New York primary. But until then, he should probably expand his repertoire of references to “things only ’50s kids remember.”
How Sanders can make inroads with his party’s higher income and/or ideologically moderate voters (without compromising his core policy commitments) is less clear. Of course, he does not need to win these groups to assemble a majority of delegates. But his task would be much easier if he starts losing them by less than he has been thus far.
One potential means for Sanders to marginally increase his appeal with such voters — and really, all voters — would be to make more prominent use of personal narrative, and a more regular habit of directing his moral outrage toward the subset of oppressions that fiscally moderate Democrats can wholeheartedly oppose.
To see what I mean by this, observe the answer that the senator gave in New Hampshire last week, when asked about the relationship between his Jewish heritage and his politics.
Commentators have long derided Sanders’s oratory for being monotonous and one-tracked; the senator can play the “mad as hell” economic populist as well as anyone, but he can’t sing any other tunes. His answer at that town hall in New Hampshire gives the lie to that analysis. In the space of two minutes, Sanders explains how his childhood exposure to the horrors of the Holocaust instilled in him an awareness of humanity’s capacity to inflict evil “in the name of racial superiority,” and how this led him to embrace an egalitarian, anti-racist politics, and to launch a campaign aimed at ending Donald Trump’s hateful divisiveness. “We are one people,” Sanders said. “And I don’t care if you’re black, you’re white, you’re Latino, Native American, Asian-American, you’re gay, you’re straight. That’s not what it’s about. What it’s about is that we are human beings. We share common dreams and aspirations.”
That Sanders never departs from his plainspoken, resolutely unpretentious mode of oratory when dispensing these high-minded sentiments only enhances their power; at least, in my estimation. More importantly, it ostensibly also does so for many who are less sympathetic to the senator’s politics than I am, such as Atlantic columnist (and prominent critic of “political correctness”) Caitlin Flanagan.
By all appearances, Sanders is more than capable of conveying his politics through personal anecdote, and delivering “unifying,” Obama-esque appeals to Americans’ common humanity. He just (ostensibly) doesn’t like doing it. And yet, by declining to make fuller use of his rhetorical versatility, Sanders does himself no favors. His default oratorical mode — with it copious shouting and economic statistics — has immense appeal to a significant subset of the electorate. But it isn’t for everyone. Personal narrative is one of the most powerful communicative tools in any speaker’s kit. A lot of human beings struggle to identify with a politician if they don’t have a clear sense of who that individual is as a person, and how they came to be who they are. Much of the aversion to Sanders among high-income Democrats is doubtlessly rooted in material interests. But for some affluent voters, the problem may be more affective than material or ideological. Either way, availing himself more regularly of his demonstrable gift for putting progressive politics into the context of Jewish experience certainly shouldn’t hurt Sanders’s prospects of building a broader coalition.
Finally, the Sanders campaign needs to find a way of bringing more voters around to its “electability” argument. Multiple polls released this week show the Vermont Senator with a higher net-favorability rating among Democratic voters than any other candidate in the 2020 race. If Sanders fails to translate his early advantages, and rock solid base, into a winning primary coalition, it won’t be because the median Democratic voter doesn’t like him. Rather, it will be because that voter has qualms about putting a 78-year-old socialist with a heart condition up against Donald Trump this November. The Sanders campaign has long evinced awareness of this reality, and has been making an electability case rooted in Bernie’s unique ability to connect with trade-skeptical voters in the post-industrial Midwest, draw a sharp contrast with Trump on entitlements, and inspire record turnout among left-leaning voters. This is a solid start. But if the campaign does not begin to produce stronger evidence for its nonvoter-mobilizing powers, it should stop putting so much emphasis on that pillar of its pitch. Doing so invites skeptical coverage from pundits and political reporters, and thus, the skepticism of Democratic voters. Sanders has demonstrated a genuine ability to command unique enthusiasm from his core base of support. And that enthusiasm would undoubtedly translate in concrete advantages in a general election. All else equal, it would surely benefit the Democratic party to have a nominee with a historically powerful small-dollar fundraising machine, exceptionally engaged online support base, and unparalleled approval rating among younger voters. Sanders should spend less time touting his candidacy’s hypothetical assets, and more time advertising its proven ones.
This is far from a comprehensive list of the Democratic voting blocs that the Vermont senator should be courting, nor of the ways he might wish to adjust his campaign strategy in light of the political revolution’s uncertain arrival. But whatever the approach he chooses to take, Sanders’s best bet for winning the Democratic nomination will be to do everything in his power to thrill all the normies.