What I Meant About Bernie


Yesterday, my friend Max wrote to me:

There’s a sentence in your recent post “Why not Bernie?” that I keep wondering about. You say, “And yet by choosing Biden over Sanders they virtually guarantee Trump will win again.” Does this mean that you believe people who would’ve voted for Sanders but don’t like Biden will, if Biden is the Democratic candidate, refuse to vote for Biden and allow Trump to win? Wouldn’t anybody who’d vote for Bernie be willing to vote for Biden just to keep Trump from winning? Or how does the choice of Biden to run against Trump guarantee that Trump will win, in your opinion?
And I replied:
When Bernie was smooshed by the Dem elite and Hillary was the nominee, two big things happened, and probably more, but these two big things I know about. First, a fair number of Bernie supporters did not vote for Hillary. They didn’t vote for Trump. They just didn’t vote. Secondly, there is a large and important demographic of independent voters and undecided voters who vote for candidates they like and not out of party loyalty. In poll after poll, Bernie did really well with independents, and Biden does not. Ironically, Trump got lots of independent voters to vote for him when he ran against Hillary.

Which is to say lots of people vote for people they like for reasons beyond ideology. Biden is not well-liked by lots of people. Trump is not liked by a majority of Americans, but the people who like/worship him ALL vote.

So what may happen is that some of Bernie’s supporters, again, won’t vote for Biden, and many independents won’t either.

The other statistic that is REALLY telling is how few people vote at all. In California, less than 25% of voters voted in the primary. But Republicans tend to vote in large numbers in elections they think matter. Bernie got lots of people excited. Biden does not excite people.

That’s what I meant.