Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball thinks it might not work……
They point to something some of us point to….
Joe Biden’s strength with minority Democratic voters…
Bernie Sanders appears to have this issue again….
— Unlike in 2016, Bernie Sanders has a real chance to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
— However, he likely will have to broaden his base of support to do so.
— Namely, better showings in big urban and suburban areas are important, particularly as the field narrows.
Sanders 2016: A look back
Bernie Sanders begins his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in possession of something he never attained in 2016: A competitive chance of winning.
Sanders’ first try four years ago was respectable. Facing a top-heavy favorite in Hillary Rodham Clinton, he won 22 states — 12 caucuses and 10 primaries, among them the battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin. He drew 43% of the nationwide Democratic primary vote, which represented more than 13 million voters. As a result, he posted the highest primary vote total in the nation’s history for any candidate not named Obama, Clinton, or Trump.
Yet in 2016, Sanders never had a realistic chance of winning the party’s nomination. Two basic stumbling blocks stood in his way: superdelegates and the South. The former, which comprised 15% of the convention delegates, went virtually en masse for Clinton, as she was a part of the Democratic establishment in a way that Sanders never was or could be. And with Clinton’s firm grip on the minority vote, the Vermont senator was never able to penetrate the South. He lost 12 of 13 primaries across the region (all save Oklahoma), polling barely one third of its aggregate primary vote in the process.
Sanders’ problem garnering the votes of African Americans and Hispanics extended to other regions of the country as well, helping Clinton to dominate the vote in many of the nation’s leading urban centers and their suburbs. The result: In the 10 states with 15 or more electoral votes, Sanders could carry the primary in only one, and that, Michigan, was by less than 20,000 votes out of 1.2 million cast.
Basically, the heart of Sanders’ coalition in 2016 was academic centers and a significant swath of rural America. The latter was an unlikely source of votes for a self-described “democratic socialist.” Antipathy to Clinton was no doubt a major reason for his strong rural vote. So were his full-voiced attacks on what he saw as an insensitive political and economic elite. And in spite of his New York accent, his base in rural Vermont gave him a connection to primary voters in smaller states that Clinton could not match.
Of the 10 primaries that Sanders won, there were three types: those with a progressive pedigree (such as Oregon, Vermont, and Wisconsin); those that were New England neighbors of Vermont (New Hampshire and Rhode Island); and a mixed band of others (from Michigan and Montana to the unlikely trio of Indiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia). Sanders also had close losses of two percentage points or less in the Iowa caucuses and primaries in Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, and South Dakota. He ran particularly well in states where independents were allowed to vote in the Democratic primary.
Sanders’ strength in rural areas was evident in the number of counties he carried in a variety of primary states outside the South. In Wisconsin, he won 71 of 72, losing only Milwaukee County to Clinton. In Oregon, he swept 35 of 36, losing only one small county to Clinton by a vote of 101 to 100. In Oklahoma, Sanders carried 75 of 77 counties. And in Michigan, he took all but 10 of the state’s 83 counties.
His victory in the Wolverine State was a microcosm of his strengths and weaknesses in 2016. Clinton dominated the Detroit metro area, winning Wayne County, which includes the city of Detroit, by 60,000 votes. She also carried the city’s two major suburban counties, Oakland and Macomb, the latter the fabled home of blue-collar “Reagan Democrats.” Outside the Detroit area, Clinton picked off Genesee County, which includes Flint, an industrial outpost that is the birthplace of filmmaker and progressive activist Michael Moore (a Sanders backer). But Sanders swept most everywhere else in Michigan, including the county of Washtenaw, which includes the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and nearby Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.
To be sure, the 2020 Democratic nominating race has a different complexion to it than that of four years ago. Then, Sanders was engaged in a one-on-one fight with Clinton where he needed a majority of the vote in primary and caucus states to prevail.
This time, that will not be the case, at least in the early voting….