A Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman University of Virginia Center for Politics analysis on Thursday shows President Donald Trump would lead in a potential run against Democratic Nominee Bernie Sanders in November, with 248 delegates going to the Democrat, compared with 260 to the Republican. Three states are still a tossup in this construct: Wisconsin, with 10 delegates, Arizona with 11, and Pennsylvania with 20. To get to his second term, Trump needs to win only one of them, while Sanders must take two.
Kondik and Coleman write that “a Sanders nomination would tilt the election more toward Trump, to the point where the ratings would reflect him as something of a favorite.” It’s true that Trump will not dominate the electoral college, they say, but he’ll do better than the Democrat.
They suggest that the Democrats would have to “sweep the two Toss-ups, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and also hang onto the Leans Democratic states, specifically Michigan, that if Sanders proves to be weak will be very much in play.”
“Sanders may ultimately replicate Hillary Clinton’s numbers in places like metro Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix. Still, there are reasons to believe that his left-wing economic and governing philosophy, particularly as contrasted with many Americans’ positive views of the economy, may cost the Democrats some support in these places,” they predict.
And in Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas – not necessarily breeding grounds for hot under the collar socialist – Sanders would have to do better than Hillary Clinton did in 2016: she lost all four by 3.5 points or more.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza responded on Friday: “What the electoral map would look like for Democrats isn’t just a theoretical conversation. Sanders’ rivals for the party’s nomination have repeatedly suggested – as recently as Tuesday’s debate – that nominating the Vermont democratic socialist would be a major risk for the party to take. This map will provide fodder for that argument.”
David Brooks was even more blunt on Thursday (He is not a liberal, he’s the end of liberalism): “Populists like Sanders speak as if the whole system is irredeemably corrupt. Sanders was a useless House member and has been a marginal senator because he doesn’t operate within this system or believe in this theory of change.” Brooks argues that Sanders’ and Trump’s brands of populism are, essentially, indistinguishable, as both thrive at the expense of the democratic institutions.
“I’ll cast my lot with democratic liberalism. The system needs reform. But I just can’t pull the lever for either of the two populisms threatening to tear it down,” Brooks writes.
I suspect that for many center-right Democrats, the above observation would mean only one thing: stay home on election day.