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Why the Sanders Insurgency Could Be Wiped Out Tonight

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Folks, when I'm wrong—I'll admit it. I won't be like the rest of the liberal media and hope you all forget what was said in the previous days, weeks, or months about a candidate. That characteristic has been systemic concerning the mainstream media's refusal to hold any sort of deep dive into how they were so appallingly wrong about the 2016 election, Donald Trump, and his voters. To this day, they continue to attack, mock and denigrate this president in ways that are unprecedented.

It's one thing to call Trump a Nazi; the liberal media does that to any Republican occupying the White House. It's another thing to wish for economic ruin and the spread of the Wuhan virus in the hopes that the tanking markets and piles of bodies can help boost Democratic chances of winning the next election. It's abysmal. I guess we shouldn't be shocked, but it seems the liberal media is gleefully trying to turn the Wuhan virus fiasco into Trump's Katrina. They're blaming Trump for a virus. That's how unhinged the liberal media has become over the past four years. And it's totally infested their political arm: The Democratic Party.

Forget the flu, Trump derangement has liquified the internal organs of the party to the point where it is pretty much a mindless zombie, spewing the hate-churned bile from its insides as the body decays. What can save it? Sen. Bernie Sanders' left-wing utopian ideas. Or not. There was a lot of Bernie hype again. The Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist won the popular vote in Iowa, clinched a key win in New Hampshire, and dominated Nevada. He came close to winning Iowa in 2016, losing some precincts to the coin toss nonsense. So, he did better in the first three contests, especially with that win in Nevada. It's that caucus that had me worried initially.

Bernie won with young people, Latinos, and union workers. The Culinary Workers Union in the state, an influential group, didn't endorse anyone in 2020, citing Joe Biden's anemic campaign and Sanders' Medicare for All nonsense as disqualifying factors. Union workers bucked their leadership to feel the Bern. Bernie seemed for a hot second to be winning the Obama coalition. If union workers in Nevada said 'screw you' to their leadership, will natural gas workers in the Rust Belt do the same? Is Medicare for All popular among union workers whose health care plans would be gutted under Sanders? Well, those questions died quickly with Joe Biden's total domination of South Carolina. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) came in close to zero hour to endorse the former vice president who has since run away with it.

Biden was considered toast. His campaign was on life support, but he won 10 of the 14 contests on Super Tuesday. He took the delegate lead. He ripped the frontrunner status from Bernie Sanders, whose people really didn't show up. Sanders needed young people to vote; they didn't. Bernie has invested heavily into Latino outreach and it has paid off, but Biden's domination with black voters and suburbanites is quite the bloc to beat. Sanders did recoup some of the Super Tuesday losses in the West, where he does well, but losing Maine and Minnesota—both considered Bernie country—is troubling for the Sanderistas. Biden has a broader appeal and base of support. Biden won states where he had minimal or next to nothing concerning campaign troops on the ground. Just the outright victories, one has to look back to John McCain's epic 2008 Super Tuesday performance, which placed the late senator firmly on the nomination track.

What happened? How can the Sanderista insurgency be undone more quickly than it was in 2016? Like socialism, the resources simply ran out—and there are some tweaks to this year's contest. First, the obvious: black voters. Sanders was seen making some headway with black voters. Biden had lost 19 percentage points with this bloc in South Carolina since last November. Not good. The firewall appeared to be chipping away. Not the case. Black southern Democrats have once again doused the Bernie fire. Biden, like Hillary Clinton, dominated with black Democrats. South of the Mason-Dixon line is not friendly to Sanders, and it wasn't because these voters didn't know who he is or what he stands for anymore. In 2016, that probably was the case, but to put it simply—I think black Democrats aren't left-wing revolutionaries. Bernie is simply too radical for their taste. So, just like in 2016, South Carolina broke Sanders. And black Democrats blocked Bernie again. This has to drive the progressive left insane.

Not that blacks turned their backs on Sanders, but the inability to get beyond the southern primary trip-up. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided to swoop in and offer his analysis of why black voters are flocking to Biden: They're more or less low-information voters. Now, Billy denied saying that's what he was getting at in his March 5 interview on MSNBC, but it's pretty much saying that very condescending point. The black voter doesn't know better—the progressive take on why Sanders is currently sucking. And these folks think this will get black voters to vote for Bernie? That's a bold move, Cotton.

Second, there's a slice of the Sanders vote that simply isn't there anymore. As David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report noted, these rural areas that were chock full of Sanders supporters in the primaries in 2016 are now Trump supporters—and they're not coming back into Comrade Burlington's tent.

Also, scores of voters who backed John Kasich and Marco Rubio in the 2016 primaries are now Biden voters. That last part sickens me a bit but doesn't shock me that Kasich supporters have become turncoats. Also, maybe there's the notion that Democrats like Bernie, his personality, and even maybe his ideas—but want someone who has a solid shot of beating Trump. In Vermont, Biden is the candidate who won the late decider vote in the state, despite Sanders' win. My heart is with Bernie, but my judgment says Biden could be what's happening here. Still, as of now, it's a tall order for Bernie to comeback. The New York Times' Nate Cohn has already plotted the end of Bernie. Citing Biden's slight lead in the delegate count, he notes that this will only get larger as this contest moves east and the proportion of the Latino vote drops. Also, young Latinos are independent voters. They can't vote in the primaries there (via NYT):

The rest of the country may be even less favorable to Mr. Sanders. With Texas and California off the board, most of the remaining populous states lie in the East, where Mr. Sanders tended to lose, often badly. They also tend to have a below-average Latino share of the vote. It is hard to identify any state where Mr. Sanders would be obviously favored outside of the Northwest, if voters broke approximately as they did on Super Tuesday.

The states where Latino voters do represent roughly their average share of the electorate do not seem likely to be as favorable to Mr. Sanders as California or Texas. Arizona, New Mexico, New York and Florida allow only registered Democrats to vote, and therefore exclude a disproportionate number of young Hispanic voters — many of them registered as independents — who are likeliest to back Mr. Sanders. These closed primaries will exclude many young non-Latino voters as well, posing a broader challenge to Mr. Sanders that he did not overcome in 2016 and has not yet had to face in 2020.

Mr. Biden, in contrast, will continue to find many states in the next few weeks where black voters represent an average or above-average share of the population. He is all but assured to win commanding delegate majorities in Mississippi, Georgia and Florida. And there are many other states, including Missouri, Ohio and Michigan, where Mr. Biden would be the favorite if he could continue the pattern of his success with white voters in the East.

He needs around 54 percent of the remaining delegates to claim a majority heading into the Democratic nomination, and his path to accomplishing this might be as simple as repeating a Super Tuesday outcome under a more favorable set of states, without the burden of early votes cast before he emerged as the top rival to Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Sanders now needs around 57 percent of the remaining delegates to claim a majority. To pull it off, he would need to post decisive victories in states he would have almost certainly lost if they had voted on Super Tuesday.

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver also added this bit of history: seldom have there been post-Super Tuesday comebacks. As for Biden, Silver wrote that his polling swing was "probably the fastest in the history of the primaries."

"Just to emphasize how quickly Bernie needs to turn this around. If our projections thru 3/17 (next Tuesday) are right, the delegate count at that time would be Biden 1317, Sanders 992, other 139, with 1531 pledged delegates unallocated," Silver tweeted. "If that holds, Sanders would then have to win *65%* of remaining delegates to earn a majority, which is roughly equivalent to beating Biden by 30 points. In fact, probably more than that, because the states that come after 3/17 (e.g., GA, PA, NJ, MD) are mostly good for Biden," he added.

Yet, Cohn added that Sanders has one shot at shaking this up again, though it's against mounting odds. Sanders needs to trip-up Joe badly on the debate stage. He noted that Team Bernie is hitting Biden hard on Social Security, but can Sanders survive a defeat in Michigan? I would agree that a two-hour Biden gaffe-fest could move some people back into the undecided column, but the next debate is on March 15. People are voting in Michigan, North Dakota, Washington, and Idaho today. We'll see how things turn out, but the Sanderista insurgency, while fun to watch, could be wrapping up soon. There's simply not enough of those who want a hardcore left-wing revolution to keep this going. Maybe that's a good thing. There's hope that even among Democrats, there's no stomach for this sort of stuff, but it remains too close for comfort. Another thing that should be looked at is the effect of Sanders pretty much praising the Castro regime in Cuba. It's quite the thing to pretty much say 'some bad stuff happened post-1959 on the island, but hey—at least everyone can read when you speak about this stuff.'

The fallout from Bernie's collapse could be popcorn worthy. Another defeat will drive the Bernie Bros insane. They're already showing up at Biden's rallies—and they will continue to do so. The question is, how many will vote for Trump or sit out if Sanders is denied the nomination again? It looks like that's the track we're on right now—whiplash at its finest.


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