One of my favorite topics of discussion revolves around alternate history. Discussing what would have happened had Lincoln lost reelection in 1864, or if Gore winning in 2000 would nix the election of Obama in 2008 are interesting topics because it allows you to speculate on the fate of the country and the world. It also reminds you of how fragile history is.
The issue I have talked about lately is the 2016 election; the Democratic Party primary to be more specific. My question is this; given what we know right now, would Bernie Sanders be in a better position to beat Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton currently is?
A spate of recent polls should leave zero doubt that the race between Clinton and Trump is tightening and that Trump, at least for now, is the one with the wind at his back.
Even with everything Trump has said and done throughout the year, Clinton’s lead is only two to three points nationwide on average, with current battleground state polls showing her behind in Ohio, Iowa, and Florida. I understand we are still six weeks away from the election, and the debates, or another Trump controversy, could swing the momentum back to Clinton. But the that fact we are in September and this race is far from settled speaks to a much larger problem. This election should be over right now. The only question should be how much Trump is going to lose by.
Biden would be up big right now in my opinion. If Obama were matched up against Trump, there is a chance he could win 40 states. And I am talking about 2016, been in the White House for eight years Obama. Not 2008 Obama.
But what about Bernie Sanders? Throughout the primary, Sanders and his supporters would constantly point to polling showing him beating Trump, and other GOP candidates, by larger margins than Clinton.
The counterarguments were simple; Bernie was still relatively unknown, had never had a sustained negative campaign against him, and the “Democratic Socialist” moniker he attached to himself would scare a large share of the electorate away. All valid arguments I, and others, made.
But if we are to assume that Trump would have pulled the same shit he has since vanquishing the last of his primary opponents, would people look past the socialist label and still support Bernie Sanders?
Aside from the label, and his proposed tax increases, which would be massive, Sanders does not have a ton of baggage. Certainly not the baggage, real or imagined, that Clinton has. Nobody can point to an ill-conceived private email server in Bernie Sanders’ basement.
Sanders, like Clinton, would almost certainly poll better than Trump on temperament and qualifications, considering he has been in Washington DC as an elected official for nearly 30 years. And he could still run as the outsider/change candidate. Which is something Clinton cannot do.
The more I think about it, there is pretty decent chance Sanders would be leading Trump by more than just a few points.
I supported Clinton in the primary. She is pragmatic, willing to negotiate and compromise and that is what I look for in any candidate I support. But the fact of the matter is people just do not like her as a candidate; and not even an opponent like Donald Trump can make those headwinds completely go away.
The caveat here is despite with the polling week from hell, Clinton still remains the favorite given her solid (for now) leads in Virginia, Colorado, and most importantly, Pennsylvania. In a few months, we could easily look back on this time period as one where the polls simply had a lot of noise, but did not change the overall fundamentals of the race. Polling swings like the one’s we are currently seeing have happened in previous presidential elections.
However, this is not a normal election with two normal candidates. There should not be any noise right now. The polls should show a steady and fairly large lead for Clinton considering who she is running against. And yet, here we are.
As a result, one is left to wonder if the Sanders people were right all along. Suffice it to say, I think they may have been onto something.