13 January 2016

Bernie unelectable? Not so fast.

I just made the following argument to a friend who says he'd like to support Sanders, but feels he must support Clinton because Sanders is "unelectable."

Head/Head cross-party polling even now (closer to the election than the last time we had this exchange) is still pretty meaningless, admittedly, but such polling has consistently and for many months shown Bernie doing better against Republicans generally, and likely candidates Trump and Cruz, in particular, than Clinton.

The view you express is based on collective "political experience," but it's not supported by recent data, which I put more stock in.

It is very, very difficult to quantify the "enthusiasm factor," and the related demographic factors: high poll numbers among under-35s, including women, who are likely nonvoters but who say they would vote for Sanders. This data could be deceptive. Or it could just be right; i.e. that Bernie would actually stand a better chance of winning than Clinton. No one can say they know for sure which way things will turn out, except to say that the endorsement and power politics angles heavily favor Clinton and she still, albeit more narrowly, leads Sanders in poll averages, nationally.

If, and it's a huge if, Sanders were the nominee, it would necessarily (I would argue) be because the "political revolution" he keeps talking about actually came about. This is precisely the kind of groundswell of support among independents, and especially young voters and even more especially typical non-voters and first-time voters, that would be the only possible way Democrats could take back the House this year. Everyone realizes that for any Democratic president to really succeed we have to take back the Senate, preferably this year, and retake the House sooner rather than later. This is a vitally important consideration, in my opinion, and the chance, even if slim, that Sanders could ignite a "wave election" in 2016 cannot be discounted entirely, whereas, I think it's safe to say, the chance that Clinton will do so is essentially zero. She is pretty likely, I believe, to win the election if she is the nominee, but we can expect virtually nothing in the way of "coattail effect," to use the old-fashioned term for it.

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