Sanders Is Deflating

Elections
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign event in Chicago, Ill., March 3, 2019. (Joshua Lott/Reuters)

Pundit accountability time: I did not think hard enough about Joe Biden. While part of my brain still screams “sell” on Biden’s chances to the win the nomination, I have to reckon with how strong he seems right now.

Just a few months ago I spent time both on the Editors podcast and in my columns explaining that Bernie Sanders was a formidable candidate in the Democratic primary. And now, if current polls are to be believed, Sanders is bleeding support to Joe Biden, who is hovering around 40 percent in the most recent polls.

My thinking on Sanders, however, should have opened me up to Biden. I wrote in March about Sanders’s appeal:

[W]hile Sanders will denounce racism and divisiveness, he won’t imply that Trump’s supporters are economically useless “deplorables.” Bernie is not “intersectional” — at least, not in the alienating way. His declared enemies are the millionaires and billionaires who buy up public policy. He will not be tempted, as some other candidates may be, to mimic or adopt the young-lefty-media views on intersectionality that remain avant-garde and alienating to key swing constituencies.

My belief that Sanders would do well is that his personality was a bit of a throwback and therefore comforting to older Democratic voters. Added to this, his socialist politics could appeal to an important cadre of enthusiastic young supporters as well. With a better-staffed, brainier campaign, I thought he’d excel. And maybe he will as we get closer to the debates.

But right now, Biden’s throwback chummy persona, his strength among African American voters and older Democrats in particular, is leading to really impressive polling umbers. He’s not only withstood a far amount of media vetting about his history of sniffing women and opposing integration efforts like school busing, he’s come out stronger.

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