I refuse to weigh in on whether Joe Biden has dementia, which is the current rumor being circulated about his verbal gaffes on the campaign trail. After all, he’s been making gaffes for decades. If he does suffer from dementia, we should hear that from his doctors. But even if he does have early-stage dementia, that still makes him better than Trump, who has permanent dementia.
Yet even his age makes it more important that Biden appoint a good vice-president. My own view is that it should be a woman, and if Elizabeth Warren would take the job, and leave the Senate, I’d be delighted. She would have time as VP to perhaps become a bit more centrist, but also gain a springboard to the Presidency. Amy Klobuchar would be another good VP. I’m a bit worried about Stacey Abrams, who’s enjoying a lot of popularity because of her response to the State of the Union address last year, but I worry about her lack of experience. But, as I said with Mayor Pete, experience is overrated and smarts underrated.
At any rate, Bernie’s goose is pretty much cooked, for, aside from his losses yesterday, national polls show him trailing Biden by 20% or so. That doesn’t mean that a miracle couldn’t happen, but, well, miracles are rare. And, as the New York Times reports, Biden’s support yesterday was broad:
He swept every county in Missouri and possibly every county east of the Mississippi River, where most remaining contests will be held. He won black voters and white voters with or without a college degree. And he swept the mostly white rural parts of Michigan and Missouri where Mr. Sanders showed his greatest strength four years ago.
. . .Once all of the delegates through Tuesday’s contests have been awarded, Mr. Biden will probably hold about 50 percent of pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention, with Mr. Sanders at around 42 percent. To win a plurality, Mr. Sanders would need to beat Mr. Biden by a similar eight-percentage-point margin in the remaining contests.
The problem for Mr. Sanders is not so much the delegate math. It’s the voters, specifically his deficit of about 20 points nationwide in recent polling. Mr. Sanders is nowhere near mathematical elimination, but he nonetheless faces a daunting and probably unrealistic task: improving his standing by about a net 30 percentage points.
As I said, I fear that Sanders voters will just stay home on election day, and that would be a boon to Tr*mp. On the other hand, Trump’s response to the coronavirus epidemic has been hamhanded, and even American voters are smart enough to see through his proclamations that all is well, much less his views that he’s some kind of epidemiological wizard. If the stock market continues to tank, that, too, will be blamed on Trump. Nothing drives people to the polls more than a dent in their pocketbooks.
Here are a few columns from today’s NYT about yesterday’s results and what they mean (click on the screenshots).
Jamelle Bouie, though disappointed, thinks that the silver lining is that Sanders has moved the Democratic ideology to the Left (true, I think), and that could translate into progressive legislation, particularly if Biden carries the Senate with him.
There’s every chance for the progressive left to make this happen on a national scale. It looks like Biden will secure the nomination, but Sanders won the policy argument. Democrats in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina support Medicare for All; Democrats in California, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia support free college. And the future of the Democratic Party — the youngest voters — are with Sanders.
If Biden goes on to win the White House, there’s real space for the pro-Sanders left to work its will on policy. It can use its influence to steer Biden toward its preferred outcomes. It can fulfill some of its goals under the cover of Biden’s moderation, from raising the minimum wage nationally to pushing the American health care system closer to single-payer.
Well, we can forget about single-payer for a few decades, but if the Democrats get the entire Congress, I hope we can look forward to more healthcare regulation, particularly on the price-gouging for prescription drugs. As for free college, good luck figuring out who will pay for it. And forgiving college debt only for those now burdened seems unfair to me.
Thomas B. Edsall laments the loss of support for Sanders by white working-class voters, as well as the sexism that, he thinks, helped defeat Elizabeth Warren:
The erosion of Sanders’s white working class support this year raises a related question: Why did Elizabeth Warren’s campaign fail?
One source of the frustration felt by many Warren supporters lies in the fact that the Democratic Party is not as free of sexism as these voters hoped. Support for Warren in Democratic primaries fell in direct proportion to rising levels of what political scientists call “hostile sexism.”
. . .Trump. . . deliberately put racism and sexism at the center of the campaign in order to make these issues salient and advantageous to his candidacy:
In doing so, Trump capitalized on what political scientists call “role incongruity theory,” which contends that women running for executive office face a conflict: on the one hand, “people tend to think that women should behave” but at the same time they believe “that political leaders ought to be assertive and independent.” As a consequence, the authors write, “when a campaign highlights the way in which a female candidate is behaving incongruously, attitudes on sexism may become a stronger predictor of vote choice.”
Perhaps a narrow loss of Warren could be attributed to sexism, but I can’t quite buy the view that her big losses were attributed to that factor, particularly because women themselves tended to vote for Biden and Sanders. If misogyny is a factor, that you must accuse women of it. Also, why did she finish third in Massachusetts, the state that elected her as a Senator?
You might respond that people are ready for women Senators, but not women Presidents. But then why was Hillary the candidate four years ago? Granted, she didn’t win—though she won the popular vote—but she was the Democratic nominee, something that, we hear, sexism wouldn’t permit. And of course Trump was going after her back then, just like he went after Warren. Although everybody’s indicting Democratic voters for sexism, I can’t buy the idea that in a sexism free world (and yes, of course there was some sexism in the voting), Warren would be the candidate now.
Do note, though, that Edsall provides some evidence of hostile sexism on the part of Democrats.
Finally, the idea that Sanders is viewed as far more liberal than Biden (a view that’s true) might hurt him among moderate Democrats or NeverTrumpers—Republicans who could be persuaded to vote for Biden (but not Sanders) because they hate Trump:
Nate Silver, editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight, cited data from the Cooperative Congressional Research Study to illustrate Sanders’s current difficulties maintaining his 2016 supporters. In February 2019 Silver wrote:
Roughly one-quarter of Sanders’s support in Democratic primaries and caucuses in 2016 came from #NeverHillary voters: people who didn’t vote for Clinton in the 2016 general election and who had no intention of doing so.
Silver pointed out that Sanders in 2016 won 43 percent of the vote in his primary competition against Clinton, but if “24 percent of that 43 percent were #NeverHillary voters, that means Sanders’s real base was more like 33 percent of the overall Democratic electorate.”
Without Clinton in the race, #NeverHillary voters have no motive to cast a ballot for Sanders. . .
. . .A new Pew Research report shows that Sanders is now decisively viewed as the liberal candidate in the race and Biden as the moderate. From Feb. 18 to March 2 Pew interviewed 10,300 American adults, including 5,771 Democrats and Democratic leaners.
Seven out of ten Democratic voters and those who lean Democratic see Sanders as a liberal, 6 percent see him as a moderate, 8 percent see him as a conservative and the rest did not answer. In contrast, 31 percent see Biden as a liberal, 31 percent see him as a moderate and 20 percent see him as a conservative. Sanders’s current profile with voters is much less likely to draw conservative white support.
Finally, Thomas Friedman calls out Sanders for misunderstanding “democratic socialism”:
One excerpt, read the rest for yourselves, and then weigh in below:
Bernie Sanders often cites Denmark as the kind of country he would like America to be under his ideology of “democratic socialism.” Well, here’s a news flash: Bernie Sanders, with his hostile attitudes toward free trade, free markets and multinational corporations, probably couldn’t get elected to a municipal council in Denmark today. Ironically, Joe Biden, with his more balanced views on trade, corporations and unions, probably could. And therein lies a column.
Is Biden a shoo-in now? Is there anybody who won’t vote for him among the readers? Do you think he has dementia? There are many questions, but all I can say now is I’ll be casting my ballot for a Democratic nominee in November.