Monday, March 02, 2020


If we're to believe FiveThirtyEight, Bernie Sanders now has only a 21% chance of winning a majority of Democratic delegates -- although he's still the most likely candidate to come into the convention with a plurality. The odds will change after tomorrow -- Joe Biden is coming off a big win now, but Sanders is strong in California and several other Super Tuesday states, and it's possible that Mike Bloomberg's vote-getting ability is being underestimated, so we might continue to have a split anti-Sanders vote, with Sanders on his way to a significant delegate lead.

What will the ticket look like if Sanders comes into the convention with less than a majority of the delegates? It's quite possible that he'll be the nominee under those conditions. But who'll be his running mate? Here's a clue from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Sanders told The Chronicle on Sunday that he won’t choose a running mate who doesn’t support his signature issue, Medicare for All, a government-run single-payer health system that would require Americans to give up their private health insurance.
If you go to the PredictIt betting market, Stacey Abrams is the leader among possible Democratic running mates. They're not broken out by presidential candidate, so it's not clear how many bettors think she'd be running with Sanders. Would she satisfy this criterion? So far, she wouldn't. Here's what she said about Medicare for All in a Q&A session in May 2019:
Audience Member 4: ... In your opinion, do you think that we should start from scratch with a something such as a Medicare for All system, or should we go about with incremental changes, such as adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act? What would you do if you were president?

Stacey Abrams: I will tell you what I’m going to think about as a voter. So I think that’s a false dichotomy. We have to recognize that winning the House, the Senate and the presidency does not guarantee us the ability to change fundamentally the Healthcare System of America unless we sweep 60 votes or we have the filibuster eliminated. But that’s a whole other conversation.

I think that protection of the Affordable Care Act has to be a constant drumbeat because that’s what people know, and that’s what they understand, and we have to do the work necessary to explain why that should be, why that advance should be preserved. But I do believe that we need to have a public option.

I do not believe that we are in a place, nor do I necessarily believe we should eliminate private insurance. I think for some, private insurance actually serves a real purpose. And I do not believe in taking away something that is working for some but I do believe there should be access to health care for every single person, including a public option.

Now so only a few of you clap for that because most of you’re thinking well, never mind, I’m not voting for you. Which is fine. But here’s my point. Litmus tests on our side cannot be so stringent as to force out actual conversation. It is an important, there is an important debate to be had about how we make this happen.

Part of my reticence about eliminating private insurance comes with the fact that that means eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs. And there’s a consequence to that that we haven’t fully vetted with the American people. So people who think yes, this sounds like a fantastic idea haven’t necessarily done the deep dive of understanding, how do you unravel a healthcare finance system that is so tied to almost everything we know and love, including the training of new doctors.

And so if you want graduate medical education to continue so that people can afford to become doctors and provide service, then this notion that we can simply eliminate X and have Y isn’t completely true, but we need to have the debate. And that’s what I want. I want us to have a robust debate about how we advance Health Care and how we guarantee that no one in America gets sick and cannot get help. That’s our fundamental responsibility.
Is she giving herself enough wiggle room to endorse Medicare for All as a running mate? Maybe -- but she's further from Sanders's position than the next two people on the PredictIt list, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, who've both endorsed M4A, though after a transition.

Also on the list is Wisconsin senator Tammy Baldwin. She's a co-sponsor of the Sanders Medicare for All bill. But there's a risk that Wisconsin voters would replace her with a Republican if she were to become vice president. And she'd be the first openly gay candidate on a major-party ticket, which might be risky.

I haven't mentioned two names that strike fear in the hearts of Sanders skeptics: Nina Turner and Tulsi Gabbard. They were cited as strong possibilities for the #2 spot in a New Republic story that appeared last month, although the story was thinly sourced.
Whenever the question is posed on social media, many of Sanders’s most fervent supporters regularly offer two names: Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator who now co-chairs the Sanders campaign and has been one of his most prominent surrogates, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who, lest we forget, is still running for the nomination herself. Both are women of color, and both are closer to Sanders politically than almost anyone else who easily comes to mind.
Turner and Gabbard are fourth and seventh at PredictIt, respectively; another betting line, Bovada, has Turner as the second-most likely pick for Sanders, after Abrams, with Gabbard at #5.

Turner has been a key figure in the Sanders campaign since the last cycle, but as an elected official she's never risen higher than state legislator. She famously refused to endorse Hillary Clinton a few days before the 2016 election. Gabbard, of course, is the Democrat most admired by Russian propagandists and Fox News.

What happens if Sanders is on his way to the nomination and we've largely made our peace with that, then he picks Turner or Gabbard as a running mate? Would he really do that? And if he does, is it a dealbreaker?

Remember, the convention isn't required to ratify the nominee's VP pick. In 2016, Sanders supporters threatened to challenge the selection of Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton's running mate, although they were unable to muster the 300 delegates needed to put an alternate candidate up for a vote. This year, assuming Sanders has a plurality but not a majority, it's conceivable that delegates might agree to nominate Sanders, but only on the condition that he doesn't pick Turner or Gabbard as a running mate, in which case they'll challenge the pick.

My guess is that Sanders, if he's the nominee, will pick Baldwin or Harris. (Not Warren, who's nearly as old as he is, though she seems much healthier, and brings no regional balance to the ticket.) But if he's inclined to make a risky pick, he can be stopped.

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