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It’s Over, Folks! Sanders Will Be No. 46

Thanks to Buttigieg’s rise, Sanders is on cruise control to win the Democratic nomination and the presidency

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders walking in the Independence Day parade with supporters in Ames, Iowa. (Image by Gage Skidmore)

When Bernie Sanders announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination last February, I was skeptical of his chances to win. He was running against Vice President Joe Biden, who has massive support from African Americans and Kamala Harris, who was a rising star in the Democratic Party. Elizabeth Warren soon afterward eclipsed him in the polls and earned the endorsement of progressive groups such as Working Family Party and Black Womxn For a progressive activist group of over 100 black women. When Sanders suffered a heart attack, I feared that his campaign was essentially over.

A lot has changed since then. Following the Iowa debacle and Friday’s Democratic debate, one thing is now abundantly clear Bernard Sanders will be elected the President of the United States on November 3rd.

This turn of events started when three members of “the squad” Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib endorsed the firebrand candidate following his hospitalization. Afterward, several influential progressive organizations rallied behind Bernie Sanders. In a landslide vote, over 75 percent of Sunrise Movement members backed Sanders over Warren. Later, the Center for Popular Democracy Action, a collective of progressive community groups, decided to endorse the Democratic Socialist candidate.

But despite Sanders resurgence in the polls, he was far from being the front runner. That designation safely belonged to Vice President Joe Biden who is well-liked by Democratic votes, has ubiquitous name ID and polls extremely well with African Americans.

That’s all history now. The Iowa debacle delivered a perfect storm, which I will explain below, that created a path to victory for Bernie Sanders. Sanders’s opponents will not be able to prevent him from clinching the nomination. It’s over, folks!

It started with Joe Biden’s incredible collapse in Iowa, where he came in at a distant fourth place. It could have been even worse, as Amy Klobuchar wasn’t too far behind him. The Vice President admitted that it was a “gut punch.” Biden’s main pitch to voters is that he is the best candidate to defeat Trump “like a drum.” His poor performance in Iowa, and the likely struggle in New Hampshire, will cast doubt about this argument.

Secondly and more importantly, a shocking five candidates earned over 10 percent of the votes in Iowa. That’s unprecedented in the history of the Iowa caucuses. Not to mention that Mike Bloomberg is polling at around 11 percent nationally according to RealClear Politics. Tom Steyer is polling at 19 percent of voters in South Carolina. With seven candidates splitting the votes in primaries and caucuses, Sanders will be able to squeeze through with many dedicated supporters and volunteers. Even if the moderate candidates recognize that they need to unite to defeat Sanders, it will be difficult for them to decide on who will be the one that would carry that moderate flag. It will be too late by then, not very different from what happened in the 2016 Republican primaries.

Many Sanders supporters were upset, and understandably so, that Buttigieg claimed victory before the results have been released. This helped Buttigieg raise over $2.7 million. According to one poll, he surged to a small lead in New Hampshire. #MayorCheat started to trend on social media platforms in response. But what Sanders supporters are missing, is that Buttigieg’s rise works for the benefit of their candidate. According to a poll by Morning Consult, supporters of the Mayor of South Bend are more likely to support Joe Biden should he falter. Meanwhile, the collapse of Joe Biden works for the benefit of Bernie Sanders.

Friday’s televised Democratic debate before the New Hampshire primary was a missed opportunity for Biden to turn things around. Biden admitted on National TV that he expects that he will lose in the Granite State, which will further hurt his electability argument. If he doesn’t pass the 15 percent threshold, he could leave the state with no delegates. Also, Amy Klobuchar had a good debate night, which means she may stay longer on the race further splitting the moderate vote.

Joe Biden also has a fundraising problem. “Several donors said they would consider donating to Bloomberg in the coming weeks if Biden’s campaign continues to struggle. Donors and fundraisers also say they would also consider backing Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Ind., mayor,” The Hill reports. I suspect, and the Sanders team would probably hope, that Mayor Buttigieg would perform well in New Hampshire and that Joe Biden will likely drop to fourth or even fifth place, complicating his chances further.

Some believe that Buttigieg’s rise makes him a contender for the nomination. I don’t believe so. A contest between Sanders and Buttigieg would be a cakewalk for the 78-year-old Senator. Bernie Sanders has made significant inroads with nonwhite voters, gaining 43 percent of their support in Iowa, compared to Buttigieg at 15 percent. The Sanders campaign has been investing in people of color 83 percent of staff in South Carolina are African American. Buttigieg, on the other hand, polls very poorly with African Americans, and his record in South Bend will make his breakthrough with African Americans very difficult. He fired the city’s Black police chief shortly after assuming office. During the last debate, Buttigieg was grilled by a moderator of why arrests of blacks for possession of Marijuana in South Bend increased while he was in office, and his response only made the situation worse.

The Iowa debacle has given some people on twitter the notion that the DNC might be rigging the nomination against Sanders, and in favor of Buttigieg. I certainly don’t believe so, and I believe it’s simply a case of gross incompetence. But what would be truly ironic, if the DNC truly had a sinister agenda to elevate Buttigieg, not Biden, at the expense of Sanders, they would have inadvertently handed the keys of the nominations to the Vermont Senator. I find that to be an unintelligible theory.

The Republican Party and Donald Trump are starting to turn their focus on Sanders. In an interview with Sean Hannity, Trump accused the Senator of being a communist. It is safe to assume that red-baiting will be the GOP’s main strategy to stop Sanders. It won’t work, however. Sanders has been known to be a socialist or a democratic socialist by the vast majority of Americans — I hardly doubt people will come out and say: “Oh, so he’s a socialist? I had no idea!” Nevertheless, Sanders outperforms Trumps in virtually every head-to-head poll for the past four years. Even Trump admitted in a secret recording that he was very worried that Hillary Clinton would have chosen Sanders as her running mate. “Had she picked Bernie Sanders it would’ve been tougher. He’s the only one I didn’t want her to pick,” Trump said citing Sanders’s positions on trade which was a defining factor in winning the rust belt and giving Trump a shocking victory in 2016. Sanders is Trump’s worst fear, and he will be the one that will remove him from office.

Written by Salam Morcos

Salam Morcos is a Managing Editor of Progressive Army and a member of its Editorial Board.

Political activist for democracy, social justice, racial justice, women's right and human rights.

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It’s Over, Folks! Sanders Will Be No. 46