We’ve still got a long way to go to the nomination, but until recently I honestly didn’t think Sanders would be the front runner in any part of this nomination process. But he is doing a great job so far.
For at least one day, in one state, the long-promised political revolution of Mr. Sanders came to vivid life, a multiracial coalition of immigrants, college students, Latina mothers, younger black voters, white liberals and even some moderates who embraced his idea of radical change and lifted him to victory in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.
With 60 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders has 46 percent of the votes. Joe Biden is way, way behind with less than 20 percent of the vote, followed by Pete Buttigieg at 15 percent and Liz Warren at 10 percent. I am disappointed that the highly annoying Buttigieg had a better result than Warren, but at least Buttigieg — who is now going all out to attack Sanders — isn’t second. He’d be claiming victory if he were second. He may be declaring victory anyway; I am tuning him out.
We don’t have all the demographic breakdowns yet, but it appears Biden did better than Sanders with black voters. As of last night Biden claimed 39 percent of the African American vote in Nevada, while Sanders had 27 percent. Mayor Pete got a whopping 2 percent. Let’s see how you do in South Carolina, Pete.
The alarming thing about yesterday was that television coverage of the caucuses was dominated by Clinton surrogates and their media friends who were shrieking that Sanders must be stopped. On MSNBC, you’d think the assemblage of James Carville, Nicolle Wallace, Joy Reid, and Chris Matthews were discussing the Nazi occupation of France rather than the results of a bleeping state caucus. I had to turn it off. On CNN, Bill Clinton’s former press secretary Joe Lockhart declared that Mike Bloomberg had better take down Sanders immediately.
I say Democrats need to wake up and realize that they have to make a choice right now — they either get the clubs out and block Sanders from the nomination by any means, thereby alienating a whole lot of younger voters they desperately need now and in the future; or, they adjust their messaging to make it clear Sanders is not the enemy.
One more time: George McGovern didn’t lose in 1972 because he was a crazy leftie radical, because he wasn’t. He was ahead of his time a bit on some issues, such as amnesty for Vietnam draft dodgers, yes. But he lost primarily because Democrats abandoned him. Ed Kilgore:
The New Deal coalition he [McGovern] was alleged to have destroyed with his extremism was already kaput. The party abandoned his candidacy more than he abandoned the party. A second Nixon term seemed acceptable to a lot of Democrats, in part because he [Nixon] systematically tailored his policies and his political operation to expand his coalition.
Kilgore doesn’t mention race, but IMO race was at least part of the reason Democrats abandoned McGovern for Nixon. Nixon was running a racist campaign with code words about “law and order” and the evils of affirmative action. Labor unions, dominated then by old white men, preferred Nixon to McGovern, as did many white rank-and-file voters, for that reason.
It’s also the case that the McGovern general election campaign was a sloppy mess and made a lot of mistakes. My impression is that his team was left to fend for itself by the party elites, who considered him an interloper. Is history about to repeat itself? Former Clinton people certainly appear to be signalling they’d rather re-elect Trump than countenance a Bernie Sanders victory in November.
Ed Kilgore continues,
The residual question is whether Bernie Sanders will run a general election campaign anything like McGovern’s. Keep in mind that the South Dakotan’s primary campaign (run by future senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart) was then and later adjudged as quite good. But it’s as though the same people lost their minds once the nomination was in hand. It’s impossible to entirely separate cause from effect, but the abandonment of McGovern by Democrats was made easier by the perception that his campaign was bumbling and amateurish, and unsure about its own relationship to the party Establishment it had temporarily toppled.
I do think that if Sanders wins the nomination, his campaign needs to remember that it needs the DNC and its resources, like it or not. Sanders may well understand that, but I’m not sure all his supporters do.
At the same time, it may be that Dems are gnashing their teeth that the revolutionaries are taking over the party now and not in some other election. But the misdirections of the Democratic Party establishment are a big reason Trump was elected to begin with. The old elites need to understand that and allow change to take its natural course instead of blocking it. They are pretending its still 2008, or even 1992. It ain’t.
But Sanders hasn’t won the nomination yet. Right now, FiveThirtyEight has Biden slightly favored to win South Carolina, 23.4 to Sanders’s 21 percent. The Nevada win might give Sanders a bounce, of course. Next is Tom Steyer, of all people, at 15.7 percent, Bloomberg (not on the ballot, I don’t believe) is at 10 percent, and Buttigieg is at 9.5 percent. Warren trails behind, at 7 percent. A shame about Warren. Super Tuesday follows closely behind.