Thursday, February 27, 2020


This New York Times story is being widely discussed:
Dozens of interviews with Democratic establishment leaders this week show that they are not just worried about [Bernie] Sanders’s candidacy, but are also willing to risk intraparty damage to stop his nomination at the national convention in July if they get the chance. Since Mr. Sanders’s victory in Nevada’s caucuses on Saturday, The Times has interviewed 93 party officials — all of them superdelegates, who could have a say on the nominee at the convention — and found overwhelming opposition to handing the Vermont senator the nomination if he arrived with the most delegates but fell short of a majority.

... the party leaders say they worry that Mr. Sanders ... will lose to President Trump, and drag down moderate House and Senate candidates in swing states....
Some of these superdelegates seem intent on denying Sanders the nomination even if he has a large lead and is close to 50%. Ohio senator Sherrod Brown is suggested as a compromise choice at the convention, even though he chose not to run in the primaries. Michelle Obama is mentioned as a possible unity running mate.

Okay, a few thoughts.

I agree with those who say that Sanders with a near-majority and a large lead would be hard to deny, but that it's valid to question whether Sanders should be handed the nomination if he has, say, a third of the delegates and a small delegate lead.

Beyond that, I think polls will influence how this is resolved. Sanders skeptics think he can't win the general election and will struggle in swing states. Today, however, we have new polls of Pennsylvania and New Hampshire in which Sanders does better than supposedly safe moderates Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg. A couple of days ago, we had a poll of Virginia in which Sanders did the best against Trump.

But will this hold up? What about that Vox story demonstrating that polls showing Sanders in the lead are presuming an increase in youth turnout the likes of which we didn't see even in 2008? And besides, isn't Sanders winning only because he's been shielded up to this point from the massive can of whoop-ass the GOP intends to open up on him as soon as he has the nomination locked up?

Fine, then. We're still in a primary. Moderate candidates should open the can themselves.

I know there are those who believe that Al Gore brought down Mike Dukakis in 1988 when he raised the question of furloughs for convicted murderers in a debate. Republicans took note, and then right-wing operatives hammered Dukakis on the issue in the general election. A George Bush campaign aide said the issue "totally fell into our lap."

But nothing about Sanders will escape the attention of GOP operatives this year. They've had four years to research him. Besides:

So get it out there. Put "socialism" clips in ads for Super Tuesday and beyond. Plant stories about the odd 1970s newspaper columns. Aim ads at Pennsylvania voters talking about Sanders's vow to ban fracking. Insinuate that there's something shady about the way Jane Sanders manages money.

If the public shrugs it all off and he's still winning general-election matchups, then, when he arrives at the convention, it will be hard to deny him the nomination. But if he's hurt by all this, that undercuts the #BernieBeatsTrump message.

Anything short of 100% deference to Sanders will tick off his core supporters, so you might as well tick them off by stress-testing his appeal before the Republicans do.

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