Bern It Down: When Everyone Is the Candidate to Stop Sanders, No One Is

Bern it down. Bern it all down. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

Two days later and we still don’t have quite all the returns in from Nevada but the result is clear: Bernie Sanders (D-USSR) is the candidate to beat. Also revealed? That the candidate to beat the candidate to beat is all six of the beaten candidates. Can you beat that?

Before we get to that, a quick rundown of the numbers followed by some mock empathy for Loathsome Joe Biden.

The Nevada caucuses had six real contenders, plus the Mayor Who Wasn’t There. Mini Mike started late and is sitting out everything until Super Tuesday on March 3. In that crowded field, Sanders just better than 40% of the vote, more than double the next-closest contender, Biden at 19%. Pete Buttigieg came in about a point-and-a-half behind Loathsome Joe, followed by Liz Warren at 11.5%, Amy Klobuchar at 7%, and Tom Steyer at a mere 4%.

With Biden’s collapse in the polls since Iowa, a distant second place is actually a better result than many pundits thought he’d get — including Yours Truly. I suspect that because these caucuses have two rounds of voting, Biden managed to garner enough second-choice switchers to boost him past Buttigieg and Warren. Whatever the reason for Biden’s stronger-than-expected finish, it’s not easy to see how he’s going to capitalize on it. Normally, Biden’s resurrection from political death would be a big story, but it’s been buried and unmourned amidst all the sturm und drang over Sanders’ apparent party coup.

My animosity for Biden has grown so strong, that I’m truly enjoying the taste of my own crocodile tears over his predicament.

Let’s look at the also-rans, and what they might mean as the contest moves into South Carolina on Saturday, and Super Tuesday three days later.

At this point, the Also-Ran category would seem to include anyone not named Bernie Sanders or Mike Bloomberg. Ironically enough, that means the Dem field would seem to have been narrowed down to a socialist who has repeatedly refused Democratic Party endorsements in his senate races, and a one-time semi-Republican who has yet to face a single Democratic presidential primary voter. Says something delightful (to me) and sad (to them) about the current Democratic bench.

But if it’s chaos you’re looking for, the Democrats sure do know how to deliver. Alexander Pournelle (son of the late, great sci-fi author Jerry Pournelle) commented to me on Facebook over the weekend:

If we knew any well-heeled SuperPacs looking to rekindle #OperationChaos, we would ask them to run the Sixty Minutes #TrainsRanOnTime piece on Cuba, the $60 Trillion (With a “T”!) scoring for Bernie’s wet dreams, and three or four other ripped-from-the-memory-hole video clips in SC and other Super Tuesday battleground states.

For that matter, if we had any line into Mini-Mike’s camp, we’d tell him the next ten days are critical and he needs to REALLY turn on the firehose in oppo ads. This is no time to get wobbly.

We need a brokered convention, with so many hard feelings the Antifas decide third-party is the only way forward.

If you wanted to poison the well (please!) shared by the Bernie Bros and the rest of the Democratic electorate, a brokered convention nominating Not-Sanders would be like a combination of cyanide and arsenic: Fast-acting and long-lasting.

But surely neither Biden nor Buttigieg nor Warren nor Klobuchar nor Steyer want to see that happen. It’s undeniable though that all their time, effort, and other people’s money haven’t been a damn thing to blunt Sanders’ rise. So the question is: What the hell are any of them still doing in the race?

Along those lines, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough stepped in it this morning when he called for the women to drop out. Yes, just the women:

Here’s a selection of responses from the Left-Twittersphere:

I could probably spend an entire column just covering the blue-on-blue antics after every one of these news items, but we have more important things to cover today.

So: Onward.

New York magazine’s Gabriel Debenedetti published a piece on Sunday headlined: “No, You Drop Out: Why Bernie’s Rivals Are All Stubbornly Staying in the Race.” She highlights the Dems’ dilemma:

The basic logic has never been in question: If Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer all stayed in the race, they would continue splitting the delegates needed for the nomination while Sanders built up a commanding plurality. Many of the candidates themselves agreed, and had started saying so in recent days. Some Bloomberg aides have called hosts of recent Biden fundraising events to dress them down for effectively boosting Sanders, according to Democrats familiar with the conversations. And before last week’s debate, a Bloomberg campaign memo warned, “If Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar remain in the race despite having no path to appreciably collecting delegates on Super Tuesday (and beyond), they will propel Sanders to a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead.” The next day, Buttigieg’s team shot back a warning that Bloomberg “will propel Sanders to a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead,” and then, later that day, Warren’s top surrogate, Julián Castro, called on Bloomberg to “drop out now,” too.

But the day after a decisive Sanders victory in Nevada, his rivals are all intent on staying in.

My only guess as to why none of the Also-Rans has dropped out is also the most obvious possibility: Ego. Each one of these jokers is so convinced that they’re The One to stop Sanders, that they’ll stay in the race and continue to divide the Not-Sanders vote until maybe it’s too late.

At our sister site Hot Air today, Allahpundit wrote that the conventional wisdom is “that the only prayer of stopping Sanders now is Mike Bloomberg dropping a nuclear ad bomb on him.” But he adds, “I’m not part of that conventional wisdom. I think the race is effectively over already.” I’m inclined to agree with AP on this one.

Here I sit on a sunny Monday morning convinced — at least for the moment — that only two things stand between Sanders and the nomination: A group of petty rivals so convinced of their own electability that they’ll all lose, and Mike Bloomberg’s money. It’s true he has more of it to spend than fellow billionaire Steyer — lots more — but Mini Mike’s charisma gap remains as wide as it is deep.

The petty rivals have been tested and found wanting. We’ll find out about the money on Super Tuesday. Until then, the race remains Bernie’s to lose.