More on the Presidential race: Friedman on Bernie, and a new poll showing that socialists and atheists are despised by American voters

February 12, 2020 • 11:00 am

Tom Friedman is worried, as am I, that Bernie, though he clearly has momentum among Democrats and the approbation of the young and the “progressives,” won’t fare well against Trump. I’m hoping he will, but I have my worries. Here’s Friedman’s piece in today’s NYT:

Some excerpts:

So who is the right Democratic candidate? Well, for starters I will tell you who it is not. It is not Bernie Sanders. On which planet in the Milky Way galaxy is an avowed “socialist” — who wants to take away the private health care coverage of some 150 million Americans and replace it with a gigantic, untested Medicare-for-All program, which he’d also extend to illegal immigrants — going to defeat the Trump machine this year? It will cast Sanders as Che Guevara — and it won’t even be that hard.

Yes, the failures of American capitalism to deliver inclusive growth, which have propelled the Sanders campaign and animated his followers, require urgent attention by our next president. But Sanders, in key cases, has the wrong solutions to the right problems. He’s the wrong candidate to take down Trump.

Please, Democrats, don’t tell me you need Sanders’s big, ill-thought-through, revolutionary grand schemes to get inspired and mobilized for this election. You want a revolution? I’ll give you a revolution: four more years of Donald Trump, unencumbered by the need to get re-elected. That will be a revolution! And it will do permanent damage to the institutions and norms that have sustained this country since its founding, not to mention our environment, which Trump has been selling off to oil, gas and mining companies at an alarming pace.

You can tell from the piece’s title who Friedman favors:

So, who is the right candidate and what is the right strategy?

On strategy, we know the formula that works, because it already has: Appeal to independents, moderate Republicans and suburban women. These are the constituencies that did not like Hillary Clinton and were ready to give Trump a chance in 2016 — but abandoned him in 2018 and delivered the House of Representatives to the Democrats, and then also two governorships in red states.

If Democrats can choose a candidate who can hold the core Democratic base and also appeal to these same independents, moderate Republicans and suburban women in the key swing states, they can absolutely defeat Trump.

. . .But there is one candidate on the Democratic side who not only has a track record of supporting all those issues but also has the resources to build a machine big enough to take on the Trump machine.

This candidate also has the toughness to take on Trump, because while Trump was pretending to be a C.E.O. on the show “The Apprentice,” this candidate was actually building one of the most admired global companies as a real C.E.O.

. . .And this candidate is now rising steadily in the polls. This candidate is Michael Bloomberg. This candidate has Trump very worried.

Yes, Sanders is also polling well against Trump, but the Trump machine has not begun to focus on him yet — it hasn’t begun bombing Facebook with ads about how Sanders honeymooned in the Soviet Union.

Well I wish that Bloomberg would either get into the damn race now (we do have lots of his ads on television in Chicago), or throw his weight (and bucks) behind some other candidates. Everyone decries Bloomberg because he’s rich (so is Bernie, though much less so), but wealth isn’t always a handicap, and of course is a big plus in a Presidential election. Yes, Bloomberg isn’t perfect, but neither is Sanders. What we want is someone who can get rid of Trump. 

At any rate, more of my worries about The Bern come from a brand-new Gallup poll (h/t: Ginger K) showing that of all characteristics of candidates, the worst—to the American electorate—are being either a socialist or an atheist. Bernie is both, for while he professes to be Jewish, we all know that he’s not religious. Further, he’s construed as a “socialist” to most Americans, even though a form of “democratic socialism” is really what most European countries have. But tell that to Americans, who, if The Bern continues as front-runner, will be bombarded with Trump ads painting him as Lenin reincarnated.

Here are the data from Gallup. As the website notes:

These findings are based on a Gallup question asking, “Between now and the 2020 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates — their education, age, religion, race and so on. If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be [characteristic], would you vote for that person?”

. . . Democrats express at least somewhat more willingness than Republicans to support most of the candidate types tested, with the widest gaps seen for Muslims, atheists and socialists. While at least two in three Democrats say they would vote for presidential candidates with these profiles, support among Republicans drops to just over 40% for Muslims and atheists, and to only 17% for socialists.

Two in three Democrats? That’s not enough!

The data broken down by party. We can’t survive if a third to a quarter of all Democrats won’t vote for an “atheist” or a “socialist”. And what if the candidate were both?

159 thoughts on “More on the Presidential race: Friedman on Bernie, and a new poll showing that socialists and atheists are despised by American voters

  1. I read, and commented on, Friedman’s post. Bloomberg would be a disastrous candidate and cannot win. His history of racism as mayor of New York will suppress the African-American vote, and few of Bernie’s supporters will vote for a multi-billionaire. I also predict that, if he gets on the debate stage with his fellow candidates, he will get hammered. And if he doesn’t, and his first exposure to debates is with Trump, he will get utterly hammered.

    Klobuchar can beat Trump. Bernie’s path to beating Trump is turnout-focused, and dicier, but not as bleak as Friedman makes it out to be. Remember, Tom Friedman as prognosticator has a pretty sorry reputation. Recall the definition of a “Friedman unit” = 6 months, because all throughout the Iraq war Friedman was saying that we just needed another six months. I don’t know when he stopped saying that; I suppose when it just became too embarrassing.

    1. Bloomberg has a lot to answer for after that clip of his racist remarks surfaced yesterday. How is he going to “walk back” those words? His statements can’t be glossed over. If he needs the black vote, are black people just going to ignore this? NO mention of that in the NYT op ed, as if didn’t exist.
      I await the spin on this from Bloomberg supporters. Will they use statistics? Fuck statistics. I looked favorably on him until this, even though I have grave reservations about oligarchs/plutocrats/ fantastically rich people essentially buying the election. David K Johnston had some interesting things to say about that that aren’t :=”just conspiracy theories.” by a disaffected “Eat the Rich” progressive.

      1. If you’re looking for a person with an unblemished past, you aren’t going to find them.

        In 2016, many dems spent the campaign season on social media shouting about what a POS HRC was because of her past. (Not exactly a great get-out-the-vote strategy.)

        And what did that get us?

        1. What dirt can we throw at Bernie?

          Asking for Pete “general arrests went down while black arrests went up” Buttigieg, Amy “clean this comb” Klobuchar, and Joe Y Y Y Y Biden.

    2. “His history of racism”
      Can you elaborate please?

      Support for “stop-and-frisk” or something else?

      As far as I understand crime in many black neighborhoods are very high, thus trying to combat it by stop-and-frisk (and helping innocent black victims) cannot be automatically racist. (I do not know how such policies are actually implemented in the US)

      1. It is considered automatically racist by the woke: Because it was happening in the “black neighborhoods”.

        If you didn’t patrol 5th Ave with the same diligence, then you were racist.

            1. I agree. But I think Bloomberg himself has acknowledged that over-reliance on stop-and-frisk by the NY police during his mayoralty was a mistake.

      2. Crime in many black neighborhoods is very high. Crime in poor white neighborhoods is also high. Poverty begets crime, a fact that has been known for millennia. But Bloomberg’s focus is on race. See Charles Blow’s article in today’s NY Times:

        Look: if Bloomberg is the Democratic nominee, I will vote for him in a heartbeat. But we can do much better. Any of Sanders, Warren or Klobuchar are much better. Mayor Pete is marginally better. (Harris and Booker were much better, but oh well….)

    3. Yes, looking at it from a distance, I agree with you that Ms Klobuchar is the most likely to clobber Mr Trump.
      Her only negatives as yet, is that she can be tough on staff (but nothing like the shitty way Mr Trump treats his staff) and that she ate a salad with a comb (in fact that works pretty well, tried it myself).
      Her weakest point is the ‘black vote’, but I can think that could be remedied.

  2. Here is the real danger: Dems have stirred up GenY/Z with Bernie, and they may not be able to quell them to elect “a bloomberg.” Just as I will vote for (the deeply despised) Trump as AnythingButALeftie, the younger generations might turn out in droves to vote for Bernie as IDon’tCareAboutWinningJustGiveMeFreeStuff.

    1. First of all, young people historically don’t vote so getting them to vote is a bonus. It’s not like if they don’t that this would be unusual. The reason old people get more breaks than the young has something to do with the fact that they turn out to vote.

      Second, the claim is that Bernie is going to turn out massive number of new voters and the young is so far not supported by the evidence. In Iowa in 2016, 171,517 people turned out, Bernie got about half or 85.8k. 2020, 176,574 voted first round, Sanders got 43,699 or 24.75%. Such enthusiasm was generated that a full 5k extra people cam out and Bernie pulled half as many as he did in 2016.

      In 2016 in NH, Bernie got 152,193 out of 247,548 votes for Clinton and he, or ~60%. 2020, he gets 76,352 or 25.6% of the vote. Total votes cast was a record at 300,612. Once again, his support is halved from 2016. Not only that in a year in which 53k more votes were cast, Bernie certainly did not get any share of all this “surge” of enthusiasm.

      Sure the field is more crowded but if his message was resonating deeply with voters, his support should at least be similar to his last ballot and with a bunch of new voters in NH, shouldn’t we expect them to be turning out for Bernie if the narrative surrounding him is true?

  3. The poll and rational arguments will not sway the members of Bernie’s cult who see him as the political messiah. They share a lot in common with Drumpf’s cult. Friedman is right.

  4. “And what if the candidate were both?” — and over 70 as well, which is nearly as bad in the poll.

    By the way:

    “… even though a form of “democratic socialism” is really what most European countries have”.

    By the wiki definition, European countries are not so much “democratic socialist”, they are basically free-market, capitalist economies but with a strong welfare state based on redistribution of wealth through taxation.

    1. Yes, not ‘democratic socialism’, but ‘social democracy’ is what these European countries are practicing.

        1. Indeed, but that re-raises the question of why Bernie self-labels as socialist. The American understanding of that word is off the map, relative to Bernie’s actual policies. Bernie is usually good at politics, but this seems like a glaring exception.

    1. Yes, but I’m addressing his arguments now, not his history. Look at the division in just the five comments above, and it’s a division I see among my friends on the Left. NONE OF THEM are fans of Bernie.

      1. Are any fans of Bloomberg?

        I can see few candidates that will more discourage Democratic activists than a former Republican simply purchasing the nomination. IMO, Friedman is just as wrong now as he’s been in the past.

        1. I agree. In my role as pundit, I predict that Bloomberg will alienate the Bernie Bros as well as many blacks, who just may stay home. This is why I prefer Klobuchar as the best compromise candidate. Probably only a small percent of Democrats view her as their first choice, but I think most will accept her as their second choice. Unity among Democrats is critical. I think she can achieve this.

          1. Mr Jay Inslee would have been my first choice, for many different reasons. From his realizing what the greatest problems are, to his politeness in the debates by not interrupting others or doing a great job in governing his state, etc..
            But in the thinned out field Ms Kloby is my favourite. If anybody can (electorally) wipe the floor with Mr Trump, it is she.

            1. As a formed resident of WA state, I liked Inslee; but he was too focused on only climate change. Or at least that’s what got through he media filter.

            2. Dealing with the climate crisis is my issue, so Inslee was my first choice. If we don’t reverse that, none of the other issues will matter within the next few years.

              And global warming is the only issue that scares Republicans, according to pollster Frank Luntz, as there is a sizable segment of young Republicans who actually believe in it. Which is why Luntz has spent a year begging the GOP to dress the issue.

  5. Yet Sanders consistently blows out everyone else in polls of favorability, which would seem to throw considerable doubt on the relevance of those polls. People are often remarkably bad at predicting their own behavior in novel circumstances.

  6. My unfortunate prediction?: No one will be perfect enough for the woke wing of the Dems.

    Bloomberg: Once supported and pushed “stop and frisk”

    Klobuchar: Some details about a 20-year old case that she didn’t even try the final version of. (“She should get out of the race!”)

    Buttegeig: They’ll find something, don’t worry.

    No one, and I mean no one, is pure enough for the woke wing.

    (The prominent local story today: Protesters who want police officers “tried and jailed” because they used deadly force on a guy who was not stopped by taser and charged the officer with a knife. “What, no one was hurt by him!” Yeah, but in about 150 more milliseconds …

    For the woke, the standard seems to be: Wait until a police officer is hit.)

    1. The “woke” wing isn’t the Sanders wing, quite the opposite. The Sanders wing uses “woke” talking points to point out the disingenuousness of the “woke” wing’s attacks on Sanders.

        1. Throughout the 2016 election, he was attacked on “woke” grounds. That was the entire point to the “Bernie Bros” smear, painting his support as young white men.

          So in 2016 he wasn’t woke enough, now even though his message hasn’t changed much (he still figures class is more important than identity), and his support is seen as being more diverse, he’s suddenly woke brigade?

          Lets be honest here, you’d damn if he was and damn him if he wasn’t.

          1. No. I am listening to many people calling in to my local NPR station (where the staff are mostly Sanders fan-boys) and over and over again, they say (essentially):

            “I voted for Trump in 2016. But I can’t stand him. Give me a democrat I can vote for. Sanders: No way. Warren: No way. Too far left.”

            And, the woke (e.g. AOC, Sarsour, Michael Moore) are supporting Bernie.

            1. I think we may mean different things by woke. To me woke is a tactical thing where you find some point you can dismiss somebody on as being racist, sexist, homophobic or whatever, and you use that to shut them down without actually addressing the issue they’re bringing up.

              Sanders support does include “woke” individuals, but the same can be said for anybody else. When Klobuchar’s staff abuse scandal broke – the defense of her behaviour was bound in wokeness.


              Don’t address the abuse, call the ones revealing it sexist. It was the big mistake with Hillary Clinton’s campaign – the whole deplorables line, and the Bernie Bros line before it, and the Obama Boys line before that.

              The issue you’ve got isn’t wokeness it is that you don’t like him being a socialist – and that’s fine.

              Look at those numbers for a second in NH, and Iowa. What do you see? I’ll tell you what I see:

              Sanders is winning the primary right now because there are too many centrist candidates so the centrist vote is essentially split three ways while the leftist vote is only split two ways, and Warren kind of self destructed.

              Its the Trump primary all over again, just this time on the Dem side. The problem is, Trump is the incumbent in an economy that appears good at first blush. You need to look at it with nuance to get why it isn’t, and most people won’t do that.

              I would much rather see Klobuchar or Buttigieg win the primary despite my issues with both – a radical policy requires a mandate, and I don’t see that in a case where the guy who is winning, is only winning because there is a split vote between the less radical candidates.

      1. Bernie himself doesn’t fit the stereotype of “the woke”; he’s an old-school 1950s’-style Leftist. But a good deal of the Bern’s support comes from the Young & the Woke. And he’s catered to it, such as by letting Linda Sarsour and others of her ilk serve as his surrogates.

        1. I’ve heard people opine that if Bernie only would call himself a Roosevelt democrat, he’d be far more palatable to a broad spectrum of the electorate (and they say that’s what Bernie really is). I don’t know if that’s true or not but he he calls himself a Democratic Socialist and one must go with his self-identification instead of trying to put wishful-thinking words and ideologies in his mouth.

    2. “Buttegeig: They’ll find something, don’t worry.”

      Being married to a man is *more* than enough. Look no further.

      1. Sadly, spot on. Trump’s surrogates will lead it off no doubt to be followed by Agent Orange himself. Limbaugh’s shot will be just the first in the barrage – “a gay guy, 37 years old, loves kissing his husband on debate stages,” and Limbaugh asked how he would look next to “Mr. Man Donald Trump.”

  7. A financial (very) conservative and socially liberal friend in Canada was pushing for Bloomberg before he even announced.

    Bloomberg can get the voters who are looking for an alternative to Trump, including many who have called into my local NPR station, but who will refuse to vote for Bernie or Warren. This seems very clear to me.

    Bloomberg has the stature, politically, nationally, economically, that Pete and Amy lack.

    He’s a safe, steady choice.

    He’s got few negatives (AFAIK).

    His positions are generally pretty agreeable.

    He’s not Trump.

    I’d be happy to vote for him.

    1. Bloomberg will be 78 on Friday. It arguably shouldn’t be a factor, but in the eyes of many he will be “another old white rich dude”. Of course, that used to be seen as a plus… For what it’s worth, Bernie is a year older and Trump four years younger.

  8. Oddly, Friedman (who should know better) treats the “S” word like it’s something from “Monsters Inc.” Stripped of emotional baggage, socialism is the ratio of government spending to GDP, which means the US is already 38% socialist, and Western Europe ranges from 41% (UK) to 56% (France) socialist. (The US number is admittedly a bit elevated by outsized military spending.) For those who can’t see such nuance, luckily there are still some places like Somalia where govt spending/services are low enough for you to avoid all taint of socialism.

    1. It is also: Political poison (except to a small slice of the left) in the USA.

      An avowed Socialist will not get back the Trump voters lost to the Dems in 2016.

      1. Hi Jblilie. I hear you. On the other side, though in my working-class southern family, the Repubs, (who are about 60% of the family) — e.g., my mom and dad — generally hate Dems but they are reasonably OK with Bernie. They think he cares for working people rather than big corporations, is less tricky than Dems in general, and they like the idea of at least giving all the Medicare option since they have generally been screwed by the health care system. I’m not saying they would vote for him — that would interfere with mom’s plan to win the lottery and begin enjoying the government coddling appropriate to her new rank — but it does suggest a band of people open to Bernie who would not be open to true party Dems.

        1. All (all) of my working class relatives are hard-core Trumpers. And no data will make any difference.

          Mainly they like Trump because he thumbs the eyes of Libtards and college boys, whom they hate.

          The fact that he’s doing nothing (worse than nothing) for them doesn’t matter.

          1. Ditto for mine. They hate Democrats from Pelosi to the county sheriff. They seem unable to comprehend that they are primary beneficiaries of US “socialism” since many do not work and suck at the teat of Uncle Sam. But that’s not socialism because Hannity and Fox News say so.

    2. The majority of European politicians did not go around praising the policies of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua etc.

      Or is my impression of Bernie wrong? How far left is he actually?

  9. Perhaps what the democrats need to do to beat Trump is to tag him as the atheist that he really appears to be, although he would never declare himself as such.

    1. Unfortunately, that won’t work. The Xian right already know this. He’s giving them what they want: Erosion of the separation of church and state, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh.

      1. Trump himself doesn’t give a shit about any of this (look at the varying and incoherent positions he’s lackadaisically announced over the years), or about any other matters of public policy, only about fortune and fame.

        The US presidency is merely a form of reality-tv for Trump. He spouts the god’n’guns’n’forced-birth line because he’s joined Team Republican for purposes of this show, and that’s part of the team brand.

        1. That’s been my take as well. From long before 2016. I have never heard him express any policy idea except as a simple word or phrase. He knows no economics that I can see. He thinks supply and demand is how he treats his wives.

        2. Yes, I’m still waiting for him to explain which two residents of Corinth (could he find it on a map or even the country it is in?) he was talking about.

        3. Republicans are happy to accept Trump as God, Jesus, the Second Coming, a sign of the Apocalypse, and a ‘flawed human being that god is using’ (to work his magic or whatever).

          Logic was never a deal-breaker with them.

  10. The Scandinavian consensus constantly invoked by Uncle Bernie and his supporters in fact refers to largely capitalist economies, subjected to close regulation and with important social welfare provisions. These measures were instituted by Social Democratic parties which decades ago explicitly and publicly abandoned the Socialist aim of “Socializing” the means of production and distribution. That Bernie and his supporters think this is “Socialism” reveals both historical ignorance and a tendency toward mere theatrics, as does Uncle Bernie’s constant misuse of the word “revolution”. On these grounds alone, some would have to think twice about a vote for such a play-actor, even against a huckster and fraud like Trump.

    1. Agreed, and “social democracy” is not the same as “democratic socialism”! Scandinavia, like the US, has capitalist economies, but with more taxation to produce much social provision.

      “Social democracy” (wiki): “… supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a liberal democratic polity and a capitalist-oriented economy.”

      “Socialism”: “… the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned” by the state.

      “Democratic socialism”: “political democracy alongside a socially owned economy, …”

  11. The argument about the “moderate vote” can be repeated many times, but it doesn’t ring true when the best candidate for this very strategy was Hillary Clinton. The problem of the Democrats is low enthusiasm and low turnout (aside of a rigged system, electoral college etc).

    It damages a democracy to run entirely on project fear, and lesser evils. This was done for too long, which is why people either absent themselves, or throw a molotov into politics by supporting someone like Trump.

    It is also wildly implausible to me how virtually every western country has a decent health care system, while Americans in earnest lobby for their expensive system that delivers bankruptcy and death when someone has a serious, but treatable health problem. I guess no health care system would be worse, but I already see how American pundits lobby for that, if it’s an alternative to a system like it exists in some other western democracy or as proponents by Bernie.

    1. Ms Clinton (admittedly with hindsight) lost for several reasons:
      1 – A massive Russian smear campaign on social media, often very much targeted to voters in swing states.
      2 – A serious and largely successful voter disenfranchisement campaign: the infamous ‘Cross-check’, closing voter stations in minority areas, etc.
      3 – Probable counting fraud in several swing states, as illustrated by the discrepancy between exit polls where Ms Clinton won and count giving it to Mr Trump, well outside the margins of error (NC, WI, PA) or just within (FL).
      4 – Mr Comey’s disclosures about the investigations into her emails being re-opened, without mentioning the Trump campaign was also under investigation shortly before the election. It lost her 4% points which she never really recovered.
      5 – Ms Stein. I think now Ms Stein was a Russian operation.
      6 – The ‘Bernie or bust’ crowd.
      And (7) of course, it was a mistake (an arrogant mistake some would say) not to go to swing states the Dems thought they had in their pockets such as as WI, MI and MN (nearly) and the like.
      Some of these factors are still playing now, in 2020, others are not.

      1. I agree with you, but a big factor was still the low turnout. Only 56% cast their vote, which may not be that astonishing in context of US elections and yet was still a 20 year low. When you search for that, you‘ll find numerous articles from WP to Slate that pointed this out in 2016.

        It looks like sheer madness to me to go with another cold fish of a candidate, like Joe Biden who sparks no enthusiasm. Aside, he is an utterly terrible candidate. I mean, right wing parties in Europe get more people points than Biden. Klobuchar? Who cares? Buttigieg, I see a glimpse, but this boy isn’t hard enough to enter the ring with Republicans. They’ll spank him hard. And Pocahontas? I used to like her, but the Republicans showed how they totally dominate her, even when she should win the argument. Not a winner type.

        I am pretty sure that Sanders is the best they got. He’s too old, and it was strategically not the best idea to embrace “socialism” in the USA. Might as well confess to worship Satan. And yet, somehow, he’s a name to reckon with.

        On the plus side, the USA probably never had a more authentic president who seems to care for middle and lower classes for once. He somehow manages to run on small but many donations, if the talking points are true (I think they are). The US must take care of democracy too, and he’s the only one who checks that box. He is also the only US president that sounds like a social democrat, which would be an important step in a rare good direction.

        Most of the stuff Sanders wants sound plausible, blue collar, concrete, solid ideas to me. He has what sounds like a Brooklyn working class accent to sell those ideas, and the long record to make it plausible. He’s too old, but experience and age is also an advantage right now. Perplexingly, he does well with younger voters.

        I admit it’s a gamble. Americans believe in Jesus riding dinosaurs, and trickle down economy. But commentators frequently look ridiculous to me when they find health care ideas pie-in-the-sky, but deem it normal to fund a military bigger than the world’s remaining top ten or twenty combined, or running the biggest prison population, to name two obvious examples. Oped people should check in with reality sometimes what is realistic and normal.

      2. “I think now Ms Stein was a Russian operation.”

        Oh come on. I’m no a fan of Stein whatsoever, but that’s quite a baseless allegation. Was Nader a Russian operation in 2000? Will Howie Hawkins running in 2020 be a Russian operation? Surely the simpler hypothesis is that many Greens simply think “lesser-evil” voting is a long-term mistake for the left-leaning electorate; some think it is a violation of “principle” (whatever that means). I disagree strongly with them, but that’s clearly what’s at issue.

        The Democratic obsession with conspiracy theorizing may a factor in 2020 losses. Honestly, who could keep up Maddow’s frenzied connect-the-dots episodes over the last three years? That airtime could have been used talking about substantive issues.

    1. How is Sanders “better than Corbyn”? Both seem to share a lack of leadership experience (prior to Corbyn’s “leadership” of the Labour Party, which has been less than inspirational) and have an ability to overlook anti-Semitism amongst their supporters, for instance.

      Corbyn’s relationship with Labour Party discipline contradicts his own expectations of loyalty once he became leader, and Bernie only identifies as a Dem when it suits him for general election purposes.

      And both are wedded to political positions they have held for decades – which could be a good thing, but equally offers many hostages to fortune to their opponents in the light of changing circumstances like those in, say, Venezuela etc.

  12. Republicans have never even nominated a Black, Catholic, woman, or evangelical presidential candidate. Democrats have.

    And Republicans, unlike Democrats right now, have never had a Jew, gay, socialist, atheist or someone under 40 in the running for their candidacy. GOP nominees have all been white men over 40 and under 70, most of them WASPs — the only outlier being the orange 70-year-old they ran in the last election.

      1. Pretty sure that’s been a whole nother country since 1776 (or at least since 1781, when Gen. George Washington’s troops and their French freres-in-arms kicked the redcoats’ asses at Yorktown).

  13. If Sanders is the nominee, I think Trump will win 40 states. and the Dems could still win the popular vote, which doesn’t matter. The popularity polls are of little significance. The big question at the moment is, how damaging will the revelations about Bloomberg be.

    1. Polls show complete opposite. Sanders polls strongest against Trump (I’m not a fan of Sanders just saying).

      Can you name 1 state that you think Trump will turn from blue to red? California, New York, Washington, Illinois? Let alone pick 10 of them?

      Latest polling (which I admit means nothing this early):

      Among all registered voters, Democratic candidates lead President Trump in general election matchups by
      between 4 and 9 percentage points, with Bloomberg claiming the biggest numerical lead against Trump:
      • Bloomberg tops Trump 51 – 42 percent;
      • Sanders defeats Trump 51 – 43 percent;
      • Biden beats Trump 50 – 43 percent;
      • Klobuchar defeats Trump 49 – 43 percent;
      • Warren wins narrowly over Trump 48 – 44 percent;
      • Buttigieg is also slightly ahead of Trump 47 – 43 percent.

  14. Unfortunately, the pollsters didn’t ask how American’s felt about electing an idiot, so we don’t really have the data to compare Bernie or Buttigieg’s chances against Trump.

    Of course, it’s hard to tease out what it might mean to be a “well-qualified” idiot.

  15. It is very easy to get excited about politics at this critical time. But, sometimes we need to relax and enjoy a good laugh. So, in that spirit I recommend this You Tube video regarding Mr. Trump. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time and it is so true. It deserves to go viral and should be played at every Democratic gathering.

  16. I have been predicting. that Amy or Pete would be the candidate and still believe that. But now Bloomberg is possibility. We won’t know until more voting takes place. Super Tuesday is a big tell.

  17. My personal prediction, fwiw – I think Sanders would do fine against Trump. He’s probably the only candidate who would have some significant overlap in potential bases – and where that overlap occurred, it would be among dissatisfied working class voters, meaning it would be hard for Trump to gin up support by attacking Sanders as a socialist. Remember that a state like WV was a very blue state until recently. They’ve gone red due to ideologies but it hasn’t been long enough for a hardcore free market mentality to set in. I’m fairly certain someone like Sanders would be well received there, and attacking him on socialism would be seen as an attack on the benefits that many people in those areas want.

    Trump and Sanders would also, I think, have overlapping opposition from moderates. But the advantage there would go to Sanders, as I am fairly certain that after 2016, Democrats are going to vote as a bloc for whoever the candidate is. There will be a small group of holdouts, of course, but I think 90% of voters will shrug and say “Well, unless the House and Senate are Republican, it will all just be gridlock anyways.”, and vote Democrat despite whatever reservations they have.

    1. You are much too sanguine on the leanings of the working class (and I have many relatives who are and I hear them talk — Trumpers all the way.)

      I remember an interview a couple of years ago (after Trump took office) with a working class woman in WV.

      She was receiving benefits under ACA; but she thought it should be dismantled.

      “Wouldn’t that hurt you?”

      “Yes. But people need to look after themselves. No hand-outs!”

      1. WV votes red now, so I’m sure they’ve picked up some of the corresponding lingo – having grown up there, however, I would be very surprised if underlying attitudes have changed that much in a decade or so. I hate to say this because I do still love the Mountain State, but the “Blame the Rich!” attitude ran very deep there. Sanders and his “1%”! theme fits perfectly. I don’t think re-exposure to those ideas, in the form of political attacks, would hurt Sanders – I think it would rekindle that particular fire in people. And, anecdotally, I have heard people from WV say they would consider their vote a toss-up between Trump and Sanders (that was in 2016, however.)

        1. N. Minnesota used to be solidly Dem too. Not so much anymore.

          The GOP campaign of the 4 G’s (scare ’em about god, guns, gays, and blacks) has turned the tide.

          As I’ve said many times, I will happily vote for Bernie if he’s nominated. But I think he will be very easy to caricature as a Lenin or Che Guevara:

          Bernie saying he’s a Socialist

          Bernie praising bread lines in Nicaragua

          (And I’ve heard too many locals around here say: Give me someone else to vote for (not Trump): but not Bernie, not Warren.)

          1. Well, no way to know who’s right at the moment. But if he’s the nominee, I’ll bet you… I don’t know, whatever you can bet in a comments section – a beer made of asterisks, maybe?… on it.

      2. In the run up to the 2018 elections I remember interviews of folks from the Carolinas and Tennessee who were hoping that the RP would crush Obama Care, but who loved the ACA. They were not aware that the two were the same thing.

        This is what we have to deal with. People that keep voting for the masters that are keeping them down and dismantling their futures. Gullible idiots that have been conditioned to respond to the word “liberal” like Pavlov conditioned dogs to respond to the sound of a bell.

  18. I would take those polls with a grain of salt; I would say that direct polling with head to head candidates is much more useful. For example, the poll says only 73% of Republicans would consider voting for a candidate over 70. I find that hard to believe that will bear out in the election results.

  19. I got behind Bernie for the nomination in 2016, but haven’t supported him for a variety of reasons for 2020. But none of them is merely a fear of the “Socialist” label; that’s a remnant of the “Red Scare” of McCarthyism and HUAC of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

    Progressives who are terrified of a candidate merely because he’s called himself a “socialist” are like the the Democratic machine-politics big-city bosses who originally opposed John F. Kennedy’s 1960 candidacy because he was a Catholic. Most of them were Catholics, too, but they feared the same anti-Catholic backlash that had cost the only previous Catholic candidate, Al Smith, the 1928 election against Herbert Hoover (and, in so doing, had hurt their own down-ticket slate of Democratic candidates).

    It’s high time this nation outgrew such biases. We’ve long lived in a mixed capitalist-socialist economy. Does anybody but the staunchest reactionary really wanna go back to the days before Social Security and Medicare and public education?

    1. “Progressives who are terrified of a candidate merely because he’s called himself a “socialist”…”

      One might just believe he will mess up the economy with his socialist policies, legitimate reason to dislike him.

      1. Many of those same people also argue that he won’t be able to enact any of his policies, or that they’ll end up watered down in Congress.

        Personally I think the opposition is in the “throw everything at the wall and see if anything sticks” phase. Time will tell how that works.

      2. Yeah, heaven forfend the US should ever end up with one of those “shithole” systems they have in Scandinavia.

        I think Donald Trump’s return to 18th century mercantilism and his go-it-alone unilateralism poses more of a long-term threat to the US commonweal.

  20. I’m holding out any serious thought about “who can beat Trump” until a lot more than 70 out of 1990+ delegates have been distributed. Maybe after Super Tuesday I’ll begin spending money. (As of today, I’ve given over $1,000 to many D-Senate candidates, but nothing to Presidential candidates.) I haven’t watched any debate all the way through, though I believe Klobuchar won the NH debate (as her 3rd place perhaps proves). I’ll pay more attention to the individual candidates once there down to 3 or 4.

    My only bit of punditry is this: I really doubt Sanders or Warren have a better chance than the centrists at beating Trump; quite the opposite imo. Out of the centrists, I believe Klobuchar has the best chance because: women will decide who wins in 2020, she has a “folksy” way about her that connotes safety and stability, she has WAY more experience than Pete and I’m not sure American minorities who are religious (most Latinos are) will vote for a married gay man (I hope I’m wrong). So as of now, my hope is that Amy wins the nomination. Bloomberg is a dark horse, and we’ll know more about his chances after Super Tuesday. I wouldn’t count him out as someone who could kick Trump’s ass and garner much of the older dems and Independents in general (who make up the largest electorate, after all).

      1. Yes, people like you who “know” her have said as much. I trust your judgement and other constituents who have vouched for her. This is a quality in direct opposition to Trump and I think it will be politically lethal.

      2. As I think we’ve discussed in this space before, jblilie, the Klobs was my pick as the anti-Trump well before any Democrats had ever even announced their candidacies for the 2020 nomination.

      3. Of course, I will vote for Klobuchar if she’s nominated, but except for Tulsi Gabbard (who I think is a Russian asset), Klobuchar is the candidate I most dislike. I don’t think he “folksiness” is a good thing, it repels me.

    1. “women will decide who wins in 2020,”

      Perhaps the electorate is a bit more sophisticated than what the LEFT in the UK and the US seem to believe.

      Maybe a women or a black voter can vote for a candidate on policy irrespective of their gender or color!

      I have a novel idea; Democrats should just pick the best candidate while banishing terms like man, black, women, jew, gay from the process.

      1. Trouble is, the “new truth” (found by “other ways of knowing”) is always prefaced with, “as a XX …” (e.g., “As an African American, I disagree with the sentiments expressed in MLKs’ ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”

      2. “Maybe a women or a black voter can vote for a candidate on policy irrespective of their gender or color!“

        That’s not the way I look at it. I don’t see women or minorities voting for a candidate’s policies in 2020; I see them coming out in droves to vote AGAINST Trump’s policies, and all the hate and corruption he represents.

        “I have a novel idea; Democrats should just pick the best candidate while banishing terms like man, black, women, jew, gay from the process.”

        If only it were as easy to “pick the best candidate” as you make it sound. The problem is, irregardless what Democrats do (if they were actually able to go against human nature and banish identity terms) the Republicans will remind everyone about these identity terms in the most exaggerated and disparaging ways possible. And an important term you left off when it comes to the GOP is socialist. I’m just pointing out its important to understand how certain terms have been weaponized by the GOP and how to strategize around them. And it can’t be stated enough; Independents are the largest part of the electorate by far, and the candidates that know how to motivate them win the day. I wish it wasn’t true, but Independents are centrist and don’t align well with the progressives.

  21. Honestly if Dems really believe their own “vote blue no matter who” mantra then there should be no problem with ANY nominee. That there reportedly is suggests that “vote blue no matter who” is a completely insincere bludgeon being wielded by people still nursing grievances over 2016 and who prioritize petty revenge over getting rid of a wannabe dictator.

    1. I disagree that VBNMW is an insincere bludgeon. (What would a sincere bludgeon look like BTW?)

      It’s like medical triage- save the patient’s life first. The US Government is being hollowed out and corrupted at an alarming rate. Save the institutions first, then work on how you go about using those institutions. You can’t address medical care or climate change with a man like Trump in charge.

      BTW (and sorry for all the abbreviations- old fingers) I would have cheered Trump had he been a decent fellow. He wasn’t and isn’t. He is the very image of spite personified. It has nothing to do with 2016, and everything to do with his narcissistic venality.

    2. Nice try but this makes no sense at all. Meanwhile it is perfectly sensible to vet the Democratic nominees for the primary elections. Before the general election 1 DP nominee needs to be elected. That’s where we are right now, before the general election. It is entirely proper to discuss and weigh the pros and cons of the DP candidates in an effort to select which one will go to the general election.

      Once a DP candidate has been chosen for the election then vote blue no matter who it is.

      So Harrison. You gonna vote for Trump?

  22. Anyone will beat Trump. Just go to and select from the dropdown “2016 actual” and then change MI, PA, and WI back to blue and see what happens.

    The “score” becomes 278 to 260 Dems win.

    There are zero states that could possibly flip from blue to red (that didn’t already in 2016) but there are many that are GUARANTEED to go from red to blue (see MI, WI, and PA).

    Those 3 states are solidly blue.

    In 2018 those 3 states voted very heavily for liberal governors which was voters remorse and a rebuke of having elected Trump. By heavily I mean + ONE MILLION more votes D than R.

    1. And those states were razor-close:

      Vote Margin
      Michigan 10,704 0.24%
      Wisconsin 22,748 0.82%
      Pennsylvania 44,292 0.75%

      Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by 2.9M votes, or 2.1%. That is a big margin.

      Trump’s EC victory was the 4th closest since 1920 (despite his ranting on about an EC “landslide”):

      2000 5 GW Bush
      2004 35 GW Bush
      1976 57 Carter
      2016 77 Trump

  23. Regardless of what one thinks of him as potential President, I can’t see Bloomberg as a serious candidate right now. A bunch of radio ads does not make a campaign. If he continues with his current strategy, the question will not be if he’ll win, but if he’ll get even a single primary delegate. Because right now he’s looking like he might only get a few in New York, and that’s it.

    I have to think he’s doing this for some other motive. Maybe he wants to run for Mayor or Governor down the line and this is his pre-campaign campaign? I have no idea.

    1. On our local CBS TV station, channel 5 in San Francisco, at news time (the only time I watch) we are getting lots of Bloomberg ads, a fair number for Steyer and about the same for Sanders, none for any of the other candidates as yet. Bloomberg is busy painting himself as pals with Obama; Steyer, who comes across very well, is saying “any Democrat would be better than the criminal in the White House” (that’s a quote, as best I can remember it) but here’s why you should vote for me; and Sanders is just being Bernie.

      1. Maybe as a billionaire he’s decided to skip the early races and set his eyes on Super Tuesday.

        I guess that makes some sense, but I still don’t see it as much of a strategy. The four earlier states are going to give the candidates who do well in them a s**t ton more free press than Bloomberg can buy. Conversely, my not contesting them he leaves himself open to the other candidates attacks as an insincere political manipulator. ‘Folks, he’s not here because he cares about you. He’s here because CA has a lot of delegates. And we know that because he didn’t even bother showing up in Iowa, NH, NC, or NV.”

  24. Let’s be crass about Bernie’s “socialism”:

    1.) Pores get Medicaid, Olds get Medicare, the 20% professionals in corporate have good health care and so do the union people.

    Its the self-employed and the non-union working class people who get shafted on health care. Not exactly the destitute, more like the Reagan Democrats.

    2.) Middle Class people and the children of middle class people worry about the costs of college. Free college is 98.6% Bourgeois.

    Let’s see, an economic program to help the middle class, small business people and the industrious elements of the working class.

    Doesn’t quite sound like the beginnings of the Maoist collective does it? But it is enough to get the rentier capitalist class’s panties in a wad isn’t it?

    On the other hand, I think Bernie should dump the whole thing and just make the 1% pay back the 7 trillion dollars the U.S. Goverment printed to bail out the banks. Call it taxpayer reparations.

  25. The problem is that the Center-Left/Center-Right blob has been lying to people how everything is getting better for 40 years, while the average person has suffered wage stagnation, is trapped in debt, and faces ever accelerating costs for health care and college.

    In 2016, Americans faced a stark choice:

    Do I vote for the same set of liars or do I vote for this obvious bullshit artist.

    Well, we know how that worked out.

    If the “Centrists” win the nomination, 2020 is going to be a referendum on whether I vote for the obvious liar or do I fall for the same bullshit artist again?

    How do you think that will work out?

    1. “The problem is that the Center-Left/Center-Right blob has been lying to people how everything is getting better for 40 years…”

      Well, it has gotten better for social issues, but then you go on about economic issues and I don’t know any politician of either party saying that things have gotten better for people economically (except the rich, of course).

      And you state everyone who voted for Trump in 2016 was choosing between a liar and “an obvious bullshit artist”. The millions of Trump supporters seemed to have missed this obvious trait, and still don’t believe Trump is a bullshit artist.

      Do you vote for a liar or the same bullshit artist again? Well, according to you, you’ll be voting for a liar regardless. So why would you choose the type of liar who is Trump? I don’t understand this type of thinking. I hope you’re keeping up on the news and the fact that we have an AG (for the first time in American history) who is working for Trump personally and is actively helping him in any way he can- including reelection. Don’t be at all surprised when Barr opens up an investigation on the Dem who wins the nomination. Bullshit artist doesn’t really cover it anymore, does it?

      1. No, Nixon was liar, Trump is a bullshit artist.

        A liar is like a lover who promises fidelity but whom constantly sleeps around on you. Sure, they can say it again, and you can pretend to believe it, but everyone knows it is a lie.

        A bullshit artist, on the other hand, convinces you to lend him money to buy ocean front property in Arizona, or contribute to Trump University, or some other thing which sounds really good at the time, I mean, nothing can go wrong, trust him, notwithstanding that little voice in the back of your head saying “maybe this is too good to be true”.

        Trump is full P.T Barnum I am afraid.

        1. No, there was a bipartisan re-write of capitalism starting in the Carter Administration which has continued through Clinton and Obama into the Trump era.

          Carter put in Volker. Carter cut taxes on the wealthy. Carter pushed deregulation.

          Clinton abolished Glass-Steagell, Clinton passed NAFTA, Clinton admitted China into the WTO.

          Obama bailed out the banks, Obama was pushing for TPP, etc.

          The Center-Left is as neoliberal as the Right. In fact, the “party of the working people” has greater leeway to destroy trade unions, deregulate finance and the rest of it than the Conservatives. Clinton got away with stuff that Reagan could only dream about. Buttigieg is Reaganomics + abortions + legal weed.

            1. If Sanders wins the nomination, he may win, or he may lose, but at least it will be hilarious to watch all the professional-class who have been railing against Orange Hitler for four years go into a voting booth and pull the lever for Trump in order to protect their pile.

    2. May I suggest reading Nicolaas Stempels’ comprehensive analysis above to appreciate the surprising truth that the centrist policy was never a problem in eyes of the centist. Not in 2016, not ever. People totally liked Hillary aka Obama II policy-wise and were merely distracted by Russian and FBI trolling etc etc.

  26. I am already bracing for a Trump second term. Sanders simply CANNOT win. Sanders, if nominated, will be responsible for TWO Trump terms. First, he wounds Clinton in 2016 and then his left-wing acolytes sit on their hands. In 2020, if nominated, he will lose to Trump and perhaps take the House with him. His hare-brained socialist policies and pandering to anti-semitic Sarsour and the squad will not win the election. His squeak win over Buttigieg in NH next door to VT is proof that his victories are driven only by his left-wing groupies.

    1. Whoa…I feel your anti-Bern as written. I have a non=chalance “all politicians lie” brother, and he’s a Bernie or nothing supporter. Sad for me, but at least better than our Trump-lovin’ parents. What is this all or nothing attitude in the world today? It will surely spell doom etc.

      1. Look, there was a bipartisan decision to turn America’s best and brightest into debt peons saddled with student loans that can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, rather than treat education like the public good that it is.

        Surprise, surprise, these ambitious, intelligent and sometimes ruthless young people decide they reject an economic system which reduces them to peons. As Steve Bannon said, Millenials don’t own anything and they aren’t ever going to own anything. [And why does a right-wing extremist get it, but Boomer liberals can’t?]

        They are never going to pay off their student loans, even if they do, they will never be able to afford a house (thanks to fed-induced asset bubbles), or the opportunity to form a normal family like their parents or their parent’s parents. They are en masse on a downward slide in social mobility, their prospects are terrible, and if they bring children into the world, their children’s prospects are even worse.

        When you have nothing, and no prospect of ever having anything, you don’t compromise. You take risks, and you fight because you have nothing to lose. Compromise is for haves.

        1. “When you have nothing, and no prospect of ever having anything, you don’t compromise. You take risks, and you fight because you have nothing to lose. Compromise is for haves.”

          Please people stop with this kinda bullshit. You ever get violent KD? Violent populism stuff?

          “compromise is for haves”

          Damn, I feel like I’m reading sci fi “Leviathan Wakes” or some such. Great fiction, hope not true in today’s reality.

          1. No Mark R., I am someone who compromises.

            As were the post-war Keynesians, who understood we need full employment and strong unions to insure that productivity gains were translated into economic gains for the productive classes.

            And they wanted that compromise because they witnessed Gilded Age capitalism collapsing into Bolshevism and Fascism and a great world war. . . and business supported it too, because they knew they almost got destroyed in the early 20th Century.

            What transpired since the 70’s was a shift from a Keynesian economic nationalist form of capitalism to globalism, in which all the gains are concentrated in an extremely narrow elite at the top. Its very similar to the system in Europe during the Interwar period.

            1. What is it going to take before people wake up? Are people going to have to wait until Le Pen wins in France, and Golden Dawn takes Greece, and AfD runs Germany, and America elects an avowed white nationalist before they examine the inequities in our current economic model, and how they are radicalizing the youth?

        2. Here is what the Woke think about the US Constitution, from an article/interview on

          “…really all started last year in September, when we handed out pocket Constitutions for Constitution Day. That same day, a couple of different first-year students took one of those Constitutions, lit it on fire, wrote “fuck off nazi punks” on it and slid it under my door.”

          1. While no one has ever accused me of being woke, I have a lot of sympathy for the Woke Millennials, because they face the prospect of downward social mobility. Most of them will never be capable of replicating the standard of living of their parents.

            Wokeness makes perfect sense for a group of people who are in the process of being economically and socially marginalized, and have no means, at least in the short-term, of fighting back. Creating an arcane system of social etiquette that only college graduates can understand and carving out tribal territory in virtual worlds of social media is undoubtedly a way of psychologically compensating with virtual status for lost real status.

            However, more effective than navel gazing on group identities might be a political program to bring about structural changes in the economy so that Millennials had some real opportunities, and not just virtual ones.

    2. “First, he wounds Clinton in 2016 and then his left-wing acolytes sit on their hands.”

      How did he wound her I wonder? By praising Trump like someone praised McCain in ’08, “McCain and I have experience, Senator Obama has speeches”? Or by doing more campaign events for her than she did for Obama?

      OK I found some evidence. On Nov 4, 2016, that commie rag New Yorker wrote that “One of the many things that makes Donald Trump angry is that Bernie Sanders does not seem to hold grudges. … The truth is that Bernie Sanders is very, very angry—at Donald Trump. He is angry enough to have spent weeks travelling on behalf of Hillary Clinton, speaking for her in union halls and arenas, to students and activists. When he talks, he is entirely Bernie—“We are going to fight for that democracy; we are not going to become an oligarchy”—and he hints strongly that he has done some negotiating with her before getting on the stage, and will continue to do so after, as he hopes, she is elected. When praising her positions, he often says “Secretary Clinton has told me” or “Secretary Clinton has promised,” as though he knows that it might not work, with the sort of swing audiences he is dispatched to persuade (students, working-class voters), simply to declare that taking these stands is in her nature. But he knows what he wants: for her to win.”

      The headline is “BERNIE SANDERS’S HARD FIGHT FOR HILLARY CLINTON”, by the way. That must’ve hurt her real bad.

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