Sanders is as electable as Clinton


With all the attention going to the Republican primary race, we should not forget that there is a Democratic contest too. The media may not have as much interest in it because there is less drama and because of the belief that Hillary Clinton is the inevitable choice. While it is true that she does have a commanding lead in the polls, her neo-liberal policies of being a Wall Street-friendly warmonger who takes Republican-lite positions on economic issues and is only liberal on the GRAGGS (guns, race, abortion, god, gays, sex) issues, though even there on some of them she is a latecomer and less than enthusiastic.

The argument in favor of her that seems to seems to be brought up most frequently is her presumed electability. Whatever her faults, her supporters say, she is the only one we can be sure of who will defeat whoever the Republican circus eventually throws up, and that while the message of Bernie Sanders may be more appealing and generating a lot more enthusiasm, it is not acceptable to a majority of Americans.

But is that true? Brent Budowsky writes that when one looks at the actual polling, there are signs of Sanders strength that will surprise many.

In a new McClatchy-Marist poll, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) leads Republican candidate Donald Trump by a landslide margin of 12 percentage points, 53 to 41. In the McClatchy poll, Sanders also leads former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) by a landslide margin of 10 points, 51 to 41.

The huge Sanders advantage over Trump is not new. In the last four match-up polls between them reported by Real Clear Politics, Sanders defeated Trump by margins of 12, 9, 9 and 2 percentage points.

For today, there are two issues these polls present. First, the national reporting of the presidential campaign completely fails to reflect Sanders’s strength in a general election, especially against Trump, and against Bush as well.

Second, and perhaps more important, Sanders’s strength in general election polling gives credence to the argument I have been making in recent years, that American voters favor progressive populist positions which, if taken by Democrats in the general election, would lead to a progressive populist Democratic president and far greater Democratic strength in Congress.

It is a fallacy argued by conservatives and, in my view, inaccurately parroted by the mainstream media, that Sanders and other liberals take positions that are far too “left.” The polling shows, issue by issue, and increasingly in general election match-ups of Republicans running against Sanders, that it is the left, not the right, which has the upper hand with American voters.

The article by Budowsky refers to just one poll but the site Real Clear Politics provides updated averages of the more recent polls. While the results there are not as dramatic, it shows that Sanders holds his own over any Republican as much Clinton does. The average gap between Sanders and Trump has closed recently while Clinton maintains a small lead. Sanders beats Bush by a small margin while Clinton is pretty much tied with him. Sanders beats Cruz by a larger margin than Clinton does.

All this suggests that the claims by Clinton supporters that we should hold our noses and vote for her because she is the only one who can win is not a valid argument. She has to earn our vote the old-fashioned way, by offering policies that make us want to vote for her despite our misgivings over her history and record.

You have to hand it to Sanders. Despite the media repeatedly chasing after every new squirrel that the Trump campaign releases, he refuses to follow the herd. After making an appropriate statement condemning the latest idiocy, Sanders returns doggedly to his main issues, that of inequality, education, and jobs.

Comments

  1. doublereed says

    While polling does some work, I believe Hillary is the only one that can actually lose to the republican field. Democrats have a demographic advantage, but the fact is that Hillary would be “politics as usual.” Bernie Sanders would actually motivate Democrats to come out to the polls, Hillary would not.

    Furthermore, if an “outsider” is on the republican side, like Trump, then they have an obvious attack path against Hillary. That she’s bought and paid for. That she’s the elite. That she’s corrupt just like the rest of Washington. Which is more or less true. With Sanders, this attack path dissolves immediately.

  2. says

    Very correct, doublereed, but don’t underestimate the “Socialist” attack path. Many still associate Socialism with Communism and the 50’s Red Scare, plus there’s the fact that the Nazi’s were referred to as Germany’s “National Socialist Party”. And it would be exactly like the Republicans to use that against Sanders, no matter how inaccurate.

    And if you think that wouldn’t be effective, then I fear you overestimate the average US-American…

    For the record, while I support the #earnthisdamnvoteorlose campaign and agree whole-heartedly with the criticisms put forth about Sanders, his campaign, and (some of) his fanbase by Elon James White, Rod and Keren (The Black Guy Who Tips), the Black Lives Matter movement, and others, I will likely be voting for Bernie Sanders.

    But I’m well aware of the way this country reacts to the mere mention of the word “socialism”. I hope that can be flipped in this election (and if my own very conservative parents saying they like what they’ve seen of Sanders so far is any indication, that in fact may be the case), but I’m not willing to get my hopes up that high, either. I’m still relatively convinced that we’ll need to get used to saying President Hillary Clinton (I am also, happily, pretty convinced that there’s no way the Republicans can win this, though I realize I could be proven wrong about that, too).

  3. 3kramer says

    You do a disservice to Hillary and yourself by calling her a warmonger and Republican-lite. She may have a more robust view of the dangers liberalism (in the broadest sense) is facing and what force is required to protect against theocracy and fascism, but she is in no sense a warmonger and (with respect and not inconsiderable pain) it very close to a bald faced lie to say so.

    It is true that on many (but not all) positions Hillary is marginally less to the left than Bernie. But overall on a scale of -10 to +10 Hillary is 1 or 2 left of centre and Bernie is 3 or 4 left of centre. Neither are socialists and both are capitalists, both are broadly liberal with only relatively small degrees separating them. Hillary has and will fight conservatives with all her might, despite great personal cost. To smear her with the tag “republican-lite” is not based in reality, and you really should know better.

  4. doublereed says

    @2 NateHevens

    The republicans will namecall and viciously attack both Hillary and Bernie in this way. This is not a significant difference. But realistically, they’re going to paint Hillary Clinton as rogue hyper-leftwing just as much as they would Bernie, regardless of any realities of the situation. They’ll probably just call Hillary a socialist. This would not be difficult because of her support of things like Obamacare.

    @3 3kramer

    What would calling Hillary a warmonger be a disservice? She supports all the wars. That’s pretty much definition of a warmonger. I don’t think she’s a warmonger in comparison with the brutish people on the republican side (with exception to Rand Paul), but that’s not a high hurdle to jump.

    On economic issues she’s very much republican-lite, particularly in reference to the banks. She’s really not left-wing, except on social issues, and even then not that strongly.

    Just recently, Hillary Clinton made comments about free speech on the internet and how it may need to be curbed for fighting terrorism, sounding a lot like fascist Trump on the other side: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20151207/21225233018/two-leading-presidential-candidates-clinton-trump-both-mocked-free-speech-internet.shtml

  5. atheistblog says

    You also spread the so called “GRAGGS (guns, race, abortion, god, gays, sex)” lies here.
    Guns ? Remember what and when she responded to obama on 2008 when he said americans cling to guns and bible ? Give me a break.
    race ? gosh, she and her husband are southern democrats, they are bigoted racist themselves, remember her 3 am ads and her push of obama as black muslim from africa with turban ?
    god? what a bollocks, she was a former republican, and a southern democrat, listened to all her talks and debates in 2008, god family bullshit.
    Gays ? yah, there is no fucking late comer, she never changed, she is just a fucking hypocrite chameleon just like obama.
    sex, what sex ? while sitting in walmart board and helping and getting money from corporations who are the one sexually discriminate most in this nation.
    GRAGGS (guns, race, abortion, god, gays, sex), fucking GRAGGS, there is no fucking late comer, its all for getting the crown, if you believe she changed her mind, you must be a real moron.

  6. StevoR says

    Sanders is as electable as Clinton

    Really? I don’t think so and am not convinced here.

    I think Hillary is much more electable than Sanders because she’s a lot more centrist and less far left wing which is what is needed and doesn’t accept the “socialist”tag that Bernie does.

    I agree with # 3 3kramer here too – Hillary Clinton is not a “war monger”or “Republican” lite and she is very pro-science including space science among other things. If I was American I’d certainly be voting Hillary.

  7. John Morales says

    StevoR, the term “useful fool” might have been coined just for you.

    If I was American I’d certainly be voting Hillary.

    I wish you were American, O lickspittle militarist. I really, really, really do.

    Then you would not be voting where I live.

    FWIW: Hillary Clinton’s appetite for war

    PS perhaps try reading about the subjunctive mood in English so you don’t confuse the past indicative with the imperfect subjunctive, like a simpleton.

  8. anat says

    Hillary’s ‘centrism’ is what makes her less electable – she loses the left wing of the Democrats, and the young people – many of them will stay home rather than vote for her.

  9. says

    doublereed at #4:

    @2 NateHevens
    The republicans will namecall and viciously attack both Hillary and Bernie in this way. This is not a significant difference. But realistically, they’re going to paint Hillary Clinton as rogue hyper-leftwing just as much as they would Bernie, regardless of any realities of the situation. They’ll probably just call Hillary a socialist. This would not be difficult because of her support of things like Obamacare.

    Granted, but Bernie actually embraces the label, which is a bit different. It’s one thing to “smear” someone as a socialist (I should say that I don’t think it’s a smear, but the US, on average, is so far to the right that for a lot of people [even many Democrats], it is), it’s another thing entirely when they actually embrace it.

    How that plays out will be seen…

    3kramer at #3:

    You do a disservice to Hillary and yourself by calling her a warmonger and Republican-lite. She may have a more robust view of the dangers liberalism (in the broadest sense) is facing and what force is required to protect against theocracy and fascism, but she is in no sense a warmonger and (with respect and not inconsiderable pain) it very close to a bald faced lie to say so.
    It is true that on many (but not all) positions Hillary is marginally less to the left than Bernie. But overall on a scale of -10 to +10 Hillary is 1 or 2 left of centre and Bernie is 3 or 4 left of centre. Neither are socialists and both are capitalists, both are broadly liberal with only relatively small degrees separating them. Hillary has and will fight conservatives with all her might, despite great personal cost. To smear her with the tag “republican-lite” is not based in reality, and you really should know better.

    When I say that the US, on average, is so far to the right, this right here is what I’m talking about.

    Hillary Clinton is more left-wing than Republicans, yes, but that’s like saying monotheists are more atheistic than polytheists. It’s a hair-splitting distinction that, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t change the fact that Hillary, and the vast majority of Democrats, are still right-wing.

    There is no left-wing of any distinction in this country.

    The closest we get are people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Both of them would do wonders for this country (and you have no clue how badly I wanted Elizabeth Warren would run; imagine her as president, with Bernie Sanders leading a Democratic congress… or flip it; either way, it’s a dream), but when you take their views in total, especially when it comes to foreign policy, they’d still be seen as centrist, if not right wing, in almost every other first world country.

    anat @ #8:

    Hillary’s ‘centrism’ is what makes her less electable – she loses the left wing of the Democrats, and the young people – many of them will stay home rather than vote for her.

    This is also true. Bernie Sanders will definitely mobilize the Democratic base way more than Hillary Clinton ever could. And I think Hillary knows it, too.

  10. StevoR says

    @7. John Morales : I wish you were American, O lickspittle militarist. I really, really, really do.
    Then you would not be voting where I live.

    Yet you and I probably vote pretty much the same way – Greens then ALP as you can do in a preferential voting system unlike in the United States. Huh, go figure.

    Also I’m not a “militarist lickspittle” and nor – despite your polemical opinion columnists piece – is Hillary Clinton.

    PS perhaps try reading about the subjunctive mood in English so you don’t confuse the past indicative with the imperfect subjunctive, like a simpleton.

    So you really need a ‘then’ between “If I was American” and “thenI’d certainly be voting Hillary.” to understand what I wrote but I’m the “simpleton” here? The “if -> then” construction with an implied ‘then’ really gives you problems? Seriously? Again, go figure.

  11. John Morales says

    StevoR, you do realise that the Greens and the ALP are far closer to Sanders than to Clinton, right? Sanders is basically a social democrat (much as the ALP was, before drifting to the right).

    (BTW, I vote for candidates, not for parties — and the party I support is the Secular Party)

    Totally off-topic, but:

    The “if -> then” construction with an implied ‘then’ really gives you problems? Seriously? Again, go figure.

    You don’t actually grasp grammatical moods or the difference between the indicative and the subjunctive, do ya? Sad.

    (I did suggest you read up on it, but actual research before opining is something you clearly disdain. Also, if you’re gonna bother to use HTML entities, why not just use the right arrow (→) instead of the kludge you used?)

  12. 3kramer says

    @doublereed
    “She supports all the wars. That’s pretty much definition of a warmonger. ”
    As Secretary of State Hillary worked for diplomatic solutions to the varied and complex problems the US and the world faces. She did support a small increase of US and Allied troops in Afghanistan, which brought some much needed respite to the beleaguered local population from the worst atrocities of the Taliban. Otherwise she engaged in difficult dialog and imperfect compromise, the exact opposite of a warmonger. By no objective reality can Hillary be called a warmonger, and doing so comes very close to a bald faced lie.

    @doublereed
    “On economic issues she’s very much republican-lite, particularly in reference to the banks.”
    I personally agree that this is Bernie’s strong point and Hillary’s relative weakness. However Hillary is miles away from republicans and only a few steps away from Bernie. Both would try to regulate the financial sector better and hold wrongdoers to account. Hillary would work toward long term reforms that would take longer to implement, but be harder to unwind. Bernie would work toward some dramatic quick fixes that may or may not succeed and would probably not be a long term solution. There are pros and cons to each approach, and I understand the appeal of the quick fix. However, to claim Hillary is republican-lite is simply not true, she is clearly left of center.

    @doublereed
    “Just recently, Hillary Clinton made comments about free speech on the internet and how it may need to be curbed for fighting terrorism, sounding a lot like fascist Trump on the other side”
    Thanks for the link, but her full interview actually shows the opposite of what you said it shows. As always, Hillary was cautious and nuanced, confirming the right to free speech while also acknowledging the threat of extremist hate speech and the responsibility society has (including the tech companies) in fighting extremism. This is exactly the opposite of Donald Trump and the difference between them is so large and so obvious that I find it hard to believe you are honest in your claim they sound similar.

    @doublereed
    “It’s a hair-splitting distinction that, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t change the fact that Hillary, and the vast majority of Democrats, are still right-wing.”
    I cannot see how any objective scale of -10 to +10 puts the modern Democratic party below zero, let alone right wing (-9 or -10). Hillary is +1 or +2 and Bernie is +3 or +4, with Cruz/Trump at -6 or -7. Still not Pinochet or Hitler but clearly far to the right of Hillary and all other Democrats that I can think of. If you honestly believe that anyone not as far left as you is right wing, then maybe you should consider the possibility that you are an extremist.

  13. lorn says

    I like Sanders. He says the right things and gives me hope of a brighter day.

    Unfortunately getting a Democrat into the presidency is not, no matter which Democrat it might be, that brighter day. It is a statistical certainty that the house and senate will retain enough Republicans to keep the sun from rising. Their control over state houses, and the state house’s control over the details of voting and districts, guarantees their advantage. Hillary or Sanders will be facing a deeply entrenched, obdurate, and vicious GOP seeking to discredit them from day-one.

    Sanders, for all his strength, doesn’t have any experience with this sort of desperate viciousness. The Clintons have had to face literal decades of 24/7/365 taxpayer financed, partisan investigation, media complicity, and a nightly drumbeat of manufactured scandal. Perhaps he is tough enough. I do know that Hillary is tough enough, her marriage is tough, and her spouse is tough. They have been through the worse that the GOP machine could muster. They have been accused of drug dealing, cannibalism, and lesbianism. Every accusation, insinuation, and smear known to man has been trotted out, at least once.

    Whoever the Democratic candidate is they will be under investigation from day-one to the last day in office. The investigation will be backed by Billionaires and endless taxpayer money. Every accusation, no matter how idiotic, will be given full prime-time media attention and will remain in play until the end of time. No accusation will ever be conclusively laid to rest or killed off. At best the weakest will become one of many zombie memes that wait to spring to life with the merest whiff of attention.

    As far as I can tell Sanders has never faced such vehement, long-term, well financed and well organized resistance and attempts at character assassination. Many of the doubts and questionable acts most often cited against Hillary are compromises that had to be made to survive. For the last hundred years the qualifications for saint and politician have been mutually exclusive. In the end you have to hold office to have any effect. It isn’t pretty but it is the way it is.

  14. 3kramer says

    @13 lorn
    Excellent post, very well said. I actually think Hillary will start day one kickin ass to hell and back. She knows how the game is played and I have no doubt the “Friends of Bill” have been collecting dirt on every single republican in the House and Senate. Hillary ain’t no saint, but she will get more good things done because she is tougher than anyone since LBJ. As they said of LBJ, “He’s a fucking bastard, but he’s our bastard.

  15. lorn says

    I just came across this piece by Doug Muder at The Weekly Sift. Same general idea but better written and backed by more details, links and evidence. Good stuff.
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    The silver lining for Sanders is that he performs slightly better in head-to-head match-ups with Republicans: Clinton beats Trump (47%-41%) and Cruz (47%-42%) while Sanders’s leads are larger (49%-41% and 49%-39%).
    I’m inclined to discount that Sanders advantage for a simple reason: The Republican attack machine that has been after the Clintons since 1992 hasn’t really taken aim at Sanders yet. So far, Republican anti-Sanders comments have been more-or-less generic attacks on a socialist running for president. They haven’t gone after him personally yet, and they haven’t started making up complete crap about him — which they will if he gets nominated.
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Above from: http://weeklysift.com/2015/12/07/the-2016-campaign-a-mid-course-assessment/

    I highly recommend TWS:

  16. John Morales says

    [off-topic]

    Sorry StevoR, my digressions above were mean and petty and unwarranted.

    Sorry Mano, for abusing your hospitality.

  17. Nick Gotts says

    It is a statistical certainty that the house and senate will retain enough Republicans to keep the sun from rising. – lorn@13

    Unless the party effectively splits – still not likely, but a delightful possibility to contemplate! Suppose Trump feels he’s been robbed of the nomination (i.e., suppose Trump wants but doesn’t get the nomination), he might stand as a third candidate, almost certainly handing victory to the Democratic candidate, but also, probably, having an effect on congressional races – a lot of Trump voters would be outraged at the Republican Party. Or conversely, suppose Trump gets the nomination: it’s unlikely any of his rivals would stand as an independent, but would the party be able to rally around him? Would the oligarchs prefer Clinton to Trump and if so, could they hinder Trump without hindering Republicans in congressional races?

  18. patrick2 says

    It’s a remarkable sign of how right-skewed US politics is that Sanders is considered far left. In most other Western countries, he’d be mainstream left, while Clinton, with her big-banks friendly policies, would fit comfortably in a moderate right-wing party.

  19. 3kramer says

    @18 patrick2
    “In most other Western countries, he’d be mainstream left”
    The answer is simple. In the US the far right maintains discipline and votes for any right-of-centre candidate (or even a moderate left-of-centre candidate it they are up against a left wing opponent) while the far left will often only cast their vote if there is a pure candidate. This give the far right much more power and the far left much less power. In Europe it is the far right who tends to splinter and the far left who work within the mainstream parties, even though that means most people they work so hard to get elected are to the right of them. This pulls the mainstream parties and society as a whole to the left.

    We may see the far right splinter in this election, but if the far left remains purists then no advantage will be gained.

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