Magazine Opinions Volume 69, Issue 5

Bernie Sanders: The Electable Candidate

Once an afterthought in both the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries, California’s place in the 2020 presidential primary – during Super Tuesday, on March 3 – means that California voters, including those of Las Lomas and Walnut Creek, will play a major role in deciding whom the Democratic Party will choose to battle Donald Trump in November.

In choosing this candidate, Democrats have anything but a lack of choice: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Mike Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang. But among these candidates, it is Bernie Sanders who presents the best choice for the Democratic Party if it wants to win in 2020.

Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, and Hillary Clinton lost, because turnout among key Democratic constituencies – young and nonwhite voters especially – sharply fell relative to 2012, giving just enough margin for Democrats to lose in key swing states: Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. To defeat Donald Trump, the Democratic Party must turn out these key constituencies, and Bernie Sanders, who consistently leads in polls of young people and Hispanic voters, both two overwhelmingly Democratic constituencies with very low turnout rates, is by far the best candidate to do this.

Bernie Sanders is also the candidate best-equipped to win certain segments of Donald Trump voters in 2016. Studies show that roughly one-fifth of Donald Trump voters were “anti-Elite” voters – liberal on both economic and social issues, but supporting Donald Trump over his perceived populism and attacks on elites. Bernie Sanders, who shares these voters’ liberal policy priorities but colors his rhetoric with strong criticism of the wealthy and powerful, is the candidate best-equipped to win these voters. It is no surprise, then, polls have Bernie Sanders consistently winning in Rust Belt swing states and nationally. One poll even had Bernie Sanders narrowly winning West Virginia.