Sanders Can’t Win, Sanders Can Win

Sanders Can’t Win

William Saletan, The Great Socialism Gap: Socialism doesn’t freak out Democratic voters the way it freaks out other Americans. That’s a problem.


Saletan writes,

 In a Gallup poll taken last month, Democrats didn’t differ much from independents in their stated willingness to vote for a black, female, gay, or atheist presidential nominee. For a Muslim nominee, the gap was more then 30 net percentage points. For a socialist, it was more than 60 points. Three-quarters of Democrats were willing to vote for a socialist. Most independents—and, consequently, most of the Gallup respondents—weren’t.

Why are Americans more likely to refuse (or, at least, to tell pollsters that they refuse) to vote for a socialist than for a woman or a Muslim? Probably because socialism isn’t an innate characteristic or a matter of personal faith. It’s a doctrine about how government should intervene in the lives of other people. That makes it a legitimate reason to vote against a candidate and therefore—unlike race, sex, or religion—a legitimate factor when you’re considering whether to nominate a candidate other voters won’t support. …

Democrats, perhaps because they differ from the rest of the electorate in their feelings about socialism, are bad at estimating how socialism would play in a general election. Two weeks ago, in the Yahoo News poll, a 49 percent plurality of Democrats said most, nearly all, or about half of Americans would consider voting for a presidential candidate who called himself a democratic socialist. The guess was incorrect. According to the same poll, only 35 percent of voters said they’d consider voting for such a candidate. Democrats got it wrong.

Sanders Can Win

Greg Sargent, Can Bernie Sanders really beat Trump? His pollster makes the case.

Lots of good points on the pro-Bernie side, too. But Greg Sargent and Bernie’s pollster do not address the socialism branding issues raised in the Salatan piece.

Many People Say …

Many people say that if it’s a Trump referendum, then Trump loses. But if it’s a Trump-Sanders fight, then it’s no longer a Trump referendum, it’s a choice/contrast election. Sanders’s pollster says no, it’s still a Trump referendum. You can decide for yourself whether that’s right or not.

Tuesday’s Two-Handed Conclusion

On the one hand, the safer choice this afternoon seems to be go with a Not Trump generic Democrat, and preserve the Trump referendum.

On the other hand, the hand wringers need to get a grip. Remember, for example, that recent polling in Michigan, about the swingiest of the swing states.