Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A short FAQ: Sanders would've easily beaten Trump

Q. Wasn't Sanders untested because he didn't face any concerted attacks?

A. Sanders faced constant attacks in the press and in the debates. In June of 2015, a Clinton surrogate attacked him for being a socialist. That September, a Clinton SuperPAC continued the "too socialist" attack by linking him to Hugo Chavez and Jeremy Corbyn. In January, Clinton began blatantly misrepresenting his positions on issues like universal health care and immigration, which is probably why, in March, Brent Budowsky emailed John Podesta, the chairman of the Clinton campaign:
Hillary should stop attacking Bernie, especially when she says things that are untrue, which candidly she often does.
But Clinton didn't take the advice. In the debates, she linked Sanders to Daniel Ortega and Fidel Castro. In April, she implied he was in the pocket of the gun lobby and didn't care about the victims of gun violence. The Clinton camp and the press both scoured Sanders' record for anything they could use against him—during one sixteen-hour period, the Washington Post released 16 negative stories about Sanders.

But none of the attacks stuck. Sanders continued to be the most popular politician of 2016.

For more, see A few links for Clintonites who still say Sanders was never attacked

Q. But the Clinton camp succeeded in defeating Sanders. How can you say he would've won the general election when he lost the nomination?

The nomination only involved Democratic Party members. Sanders did well in states with same-day registration like Minnesota where independents could support him. He did badly in states like New York and California that required party registration weeks in advance. (Yes, it is significant that he did worse in states where the Democratic Party makes it harder for people to vote.)

What's most relevant is the polls covered the general public, not just Democrats. Sanders did better with independents than Clinton, and because of that, he took votes from Trump that Clinton could not.

But the polls were wrong!

Some were wrong. But sites like RealClearPolitics that average the polls were right. Except for a brief post-nomination bump, Clinton stayed within the margin of error for losing,while Sanders stayed about 10 points ahead of Trump.

For more, see A reminder for Clinton fans that the polls were right all along.

Q. Why do you think Sanders would've done better than Clinton against Trump?

A. Because Clinton's weaknesses were easy for Trump to exploit, but Sanders' strengths cut into Trump's base. This was noticed in February 2016, when Nathan J. Robinson wrote, UNLESS THE DEMOCRATS RUN SANDERS, A TRUMP NOMINATION MEANS A TRUMP PRESIDENCY.

Q. Don't Americans hate socialists?

A. Americans hate dictators, regardless of their politics. Sanders is a democratic socialist. His platform focused on things that appeal to most Americans: a $15 minimum wage, free public higher education, and universal health care. See Bernie Sanders says Americans back his agenda — and he’s mostly right.

Q. If Sanders had gone against the Republicans, they would've thrown everything they had at him!

One reason for primaries is to find out what charges stick. The Clinton camp hated running neck and neck with an old Jewish socialist and were desperate to get him out of the race, yet they barely squeezed him out after a long, hard fight. Even most his opponents think Sanders is a good, honorable person who cares passionately about working class Americans of all genders and hues.

Q. Didn't Sanders do poorly with people of color?

A. Arab Americans overwhelmingly preferred Sanders. So did millennials of all races and genders. His work for civil rights as a young man made Sanders' credentials on racial issues much stronger than Clinton's, which is why the Clinton camp did all it could to discredit him. See Labor Secretary Advised Clinton To Cast Sanders As Candidate Of Whites To Turn Off Minorities

Q. What about Russ Feingold? He was a Sanders Democrat, and he lost badly.

Feingold had favorability problems that Sanders did not. See Three Reasons Why Russ Feingold Had A Terrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad 2015 - America Rising. If Sanders had been the nominee, Feingold might've ridden his coattails to victory. Or Feingold might've lost no matter who the candidate was. Ultimately, this question is just a distraction from all the evidence that tells us Sanders, the country's most popular politician, would've easily beaten Trump, the least favorable politician the GOP has ever run.

I don't mean to do a long FAQ, but if I've left out any important points or if I've made any mistakes, please mention them in the comments.

ETA: It should be stressed that Sanders' work for racial equality never stopped. From Bernie Sanders: The Only White Guy to Show Up:
At the time of the elections, the black congressional caucus was aware of the voter suppression shenanigans going on in Florida, and they tried to gain support among their colleagues to bring attention to the debacle. The only white congressional member who supported and worked with them was Bernie Sanders.
And here's Sander's account in 2008 of working on an issue that historically has primarily affect poor black workers: 'The Harvest of Shame' .

(via @MCCindy64)

ETA: Trump pollster: Sanders would have won general election | TheHill

ETA: An example of how badly Clinton did in poorer neighborhoods, from Many in Milwaukee Neighborhood Didn't Vote—And Don't Regret It:
All four barbers had voted for Mr. Obama. But only two could muster the enthusiasm to vote this time. And even then, it was a sort of protest. One wrote in Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The other wrote in himself.

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