Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders scores 31% support in the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, 12 points ahead of his nearest rival in the crowded Democratic field. That’s a big enough lead for Sanders to overtake “no majority” as the likely nominee, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) February 18, 2020
Last week I wrote a piece asking “Is It Bernie’s Race to Lose?” (VIP member link) on the way to the 1,990 delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination before the convention in Milwaukee, but Sanders isn’t quite there yet. Nevertheless, as I noted on Friday, the math works in his favor:
Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you do any math. Hell, I’m not even going to do any math. That’s because some nice Democrat has already done the math for us, and shared it with Mike Allen of Axios. An unnamed Democratic presidential campaign — I’m assuming a Not-Sanders camp — posits that on Super Tuesday, “Sanders could build an insurmountable delegate lead while the moderates eat each other up.” They shared three different scenarios, and of the three, here’s the one where Sanders performs the worst:
Bernie’s Super Tuesday vote share is five points ahead of the second candidate (say, 30% to 25%). Bernie would net 96 delegates more than the next-highest-performing candidate. At that point, it would be possible but difficult to overtake Sanders: To become the nominee, that survivor would need to beat Bernie by an average of 53% to 47% in remaining contests.
If Sanders does better than a 5% lead over second place, then the math gets even steeper in the old Bolshie’s favor.
FiveThirtyEight’s model gives Sanders an average of 1,588 delegates before Milwaukee, well shy of the needed 1,990, but nearly double what nearest rival Mike Bloomberg is projected to garner.
More moderate Dems (we’re grading on a curve here) and the DNC are in Panic Mode this morning.
NeverTrumpers are shaking in their loafers, too.
From the new Marist poll: 54% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents under 45 support Sanders (13% of those over 45 support him). This has shaken even my normally cheery disposition about the future on this winter morning.https://t.co/9HNqalIipE
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) February 18, 2020
What happens next? I suspect Bloomberg will open up a money firehose of negative ads and social media attacks on Sanders. Bloomberg has risen to second place against Sanders based on big-money organization and media saturation, mostly to increase his name recognition with positive messages. We have yet to see what damage Bloomberg can do with micro-targeted negative messaging against his rival Democrats. Although I suspect the bloodletting would be intense.
Yesterday I wrote a related piece headlined “Blue on Blue: Bernie Bros vs. Mini Mike” (VIP member link) outlining the risks of the bad blood between the party’s progressive and establishment wings:
We’re still months out from the convention in Milwaukee but for now, the situation looks like this for the Democrats:
• If Sanders wins the nomination, he won’t get much support from Bloomberg, exacerbating tensions within the party and — this next part is intertwined with the first part — likely worsening just how badly Sanders would lose to Trump. The finger-pointing would go on for FOUR! MORE! YEARS!
• If Sanders doesn’t win the nomination, it will look like he got robbed not once but twice by the DNC. The temptation among Bernie Bros will be to burn the whole thing down. Can a Democratic nominee fly without his left wing? I dunno, but it sure would be fun to watch them try. Assuming the Not-Bernie nominee also loses, the finger-pointing would go on for FOUR! MORE! YEARS!, but in the other direction. Sweet.
The usual disclaimers apply: It’s a long time between now and the convention, a lot can change between now and Election Day, and also I drink.
The Bernie Bros look poised to take over the Democratic Party in nearly the exact same way Delta House took over the Faber College homecoming parade: With rampant chaos and destruction. And with the same attitude, too:
The Great Democratic Civil War is just beginning, the Socialists versus the Slightly Less Socialist. ‘Tis a pity, as Henry Kissinger quipped about the Iran-Iraq War, they both can’t lose.
Or can they?