What if Bernie Sanders had done better in the southern contests and the Acela Corridor showdown during the 2016 Democratic primaries and clinched the Democratic nomination? Would we still have a Trump presidency? For one pollster with the president’s campaign, he’s confident that Sanders would’ve won (via The Hill):
Tony Fabrizio said at a Harvard University Institute of Politics event Monday that Sanders could have prevailed where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did not.
“There’s no question that if it had been anybody other than Clinton or anybody other than Trump, that race would not have been as close as it was either way,” Fabrizio said. “It would not have been.”
When asked what would happen during a Sanders-Trump match-up, Fabrizio replied, “I think Sanders beats Trump.”
Fabrizio is reportedly a longtime friend of now-indicted former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. He’s also close to Roger Stone, another fixture in the Trump orbit.
Frankly, for us on the Right, we have nothing to fear. Trump beat Hillary Clinton. Period. For the Left this is an entirely different story. It’s the reason why the Sanders cohort, vocal and passionate, is not going away because they know this could have been a possibility. That and they’re becoming a larger share of the Democratic base. Ironic since their leader isn’t even a Democrat, but cue the ‘we told you so’ jabs from the progressive Left on this one. Sanders animated the Obama base, especially the young voter demographic with his talk about stopping big banks, universal health care, and free college—initiatives that fall flat with everyone else, by the way. Medicare-for-all, which Sanders is pushing big league, falls apart when you tell voters that their employer-based insurance would be cannibalized. Free college registers high on the bulls**t radar for non-Democrats. Still, this, plus Sanders doing well with white working class voters—I could see a Sanders win. After all, a good chunk of the Trump coalition has economically progressive views. Sanders, like Trump, also talked about a rigged system. Alas, that didn’t happen. We might have dodged a bullet. At the same time, it’s almost stunning that the Hillary campaign didn’t see the signs post-convention. Sanders won in Wisconsin and Michigan—two core Rust Belt states. That’s a huge signal flare for one to reach out to white working class voters, which Sanders did. That went over the Clinton camp’s heads—and thank God it did. Hillary has to be one of the worst campaigners in recent memory, certainly compared to that of her former rival, Barack Obama.
Yet, let’s say Sanders did win the nomination—could a drop off in black voters, who were not familiar with the self-described democratic socialist, have undercut him. Would they have turned out to vote if he had been the nominee? We know a lot of Democrats stayed home in key counties, like Wayne (i.e. Detroit), in Michigan last year. Two terms of Obama and disappointment in economic position caused some to just stay out this cycle. Even post-2016, the people who seem to be the most upset with Trump are not black voters, but well-off white progressives who can take off work. Frankly, while Sanders may have given Clinton a run for her money, he was soundly beaten in the end. Black Democrats gave Hillary a massive delegate count lead from which Sanders could never make up.
If anything, this could only further inflame the infighting between the establishment and progressive wings of the Democratic Party. And that’s okay—where’s the popcorn?