Does Bernie Sanders Endanger the Democratic House Majority?

Moderate Democrats are terrified a Sanders-topped ticket will destroy any chance Democrats may have at maintaining the House majority.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with attendees at the Clark County Democratic Party’s 2020 Kick Off to Caucus Gala at the Tropicana Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. February 15, 2020. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

Nevada Berns

Following Sen. Bernie Sanders’ historic win in Nevada, liberal progressives in the Democratic Party are feeling pretty ecstatic today.

With strong showings in both Iowa and New Hampshire already under his belt, Bernie’s first-place finish in Nevada staggered his many naysayers and appears to have caught the Democratic Party establishment off-guard.

Though they should really be prepared for anything at this point.

Sanders seems on-track to give liberal progressives in the Democratic Party exactly what they want: Their chosen champion, at last. Those Democratic voters who bitterly regret the party’s embrace of Hillary Clinton over Sanders in 2016 are eager to make-up for lost time.

As the experts sort through Nevada’s voting data, it is also becoming clear that Sanders has indeed managed to expand his base of support to include Latino voters. This is something Democratic Party leadership has been confidently assuring the voting public and credulous members of the media absolutely could not and would not happen.

But the Democratic Party establishment class is looking less and credible as the days and weeks pass with no clear front-running alternative to Bernie and no clear plan to stop him.

Because while Democratic progressives are celebrating the fact that Sanders now has a clear path to the nomination, not everyone in the Democratic Party feels much like celebrating.

Moderates in the Democratic Party should be more excited that Sanders has demonstrated an ability to broaden his base of supporters to include the Latino vote; they aren’t.

Towards the middle of the Democratic Party, instead of excitement, there is instead so much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“It’s this incredible sense that we’re hurtling to the abyss. I also think we could lose the House. And if we do, there would be absolutely no way to stop [Trump]. Today is the most depressed I’ve ever been in politics.” — Matt Bennett, Third Way

The objections of party moderates and mandarins to Bernie Sanders run the gamut from “he isn’t really a Democrat” to “a socialist like Sanders can’t win against Donald Trump”.

But the biggest fear seems to be related to vulnerable Democratic members of the House whose seats are in swing districts, purple districts, or districts that went Democrat in 2018 but voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

Democratic Party leaders are certain that Sanders’ brand of socialism, his open embrace of liberal hot-button issues like the Green New Deal, and more specifically, the astronomical price tags associated with those programs, will frighten off moderate voters and hand the election to Trump.

Worse, party leadership fears that Sanders at the top of the ticket will hurt Democrats all the way down- handing the executive branch back to Donald Trump and turning the House Majority over to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

“We have every opportunity to get the House back. I mean, Bernie Sanders is a gift to the Republican Party and the economic turnaround that President Trump is executing right now. Look, we have the greatest contrast America has ever had I think between two potential presidents here. On the one hand, you’ve got Donald Trump who is executing the greatest economic turnaround in U.S. history. On the other hand, you’ve got Bernie Sanders who has lived off somebody else his entire life promising free stuff.” — Sen. David Perdue (R-GA)

Democratic Party leaders are certain Sanders will destroy the party’s chances in November if he becomes the nominee. But when it comes to picking the anti-Sanders, suddenly party leaders sound far less sure of themselves.

Some moderate Democrats are stubbornly sticking with Joe Biden, in spite of a weak performance on the campaign trail and dismal results in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Biden finished a distant second to Sanders in Nevada, which is still his best showing yet. Fans of Biden point ahead to South Carolina, where the candidates will face their next big test and where Biden has the most support, according to the polls anyway.

“Biden is the only one who has a path to defeat Bernie. It would involve him winning South Carolina and then performing well enough in the early March states to keep the race competitive. I don’t think Bloomberg can recover quickly enough from the hits he’s taken in recent days to remain competitive or win the nomination.” — Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network

Many prominent Democrats in South Carolina do indeed favor Biden, including Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC). Clyburn has been taking to the airwaves in recent days to stump for Biden ahead of Tuesday’s contest and is very influential within the state.

Other moderate Democrats are casting their lot with former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, in spite of Bloombergs extremely weak performance during the last Democratic debates and complete lack of any measurable results from early voting states.

During this race, it is no secret that Mike Bloomberg hasn’t exactly been playing by the usual primary rules. He hasn’t been campaigning in the early-voting states; at least, he hasn’t been campaigning in any traditional sense. He doesn’t have a base. He doesn’t have a grass-roots organization of support.

What Bloomberg does have is an almost unlimited budget of his own billions to spend on whatever television commercials and lavish campaign buffets he cares to bankroll.

But moderate Democrats who have believed alternately that Biden has the strong African-American voting community support to carry his campaign or that Bloomberg’s billions might be able to buy the nomination outright are dealing with some pretty serious doubts.

As the last debate made perfectly clear, Bloomberg is going to have to offer more than just television commercials and Philly cheese steaks if he expects to cinch the Democratic nomination, to say nothing of the presidency.

And as Biden’s support from African-American communities get slowly siphoned away by Mike Bloomberg’s campaign, it is clear that the Biden campaign is going to need more than just the support Joe Biden brings from his days in the administration of former President Barack Obama.

For one thing, Obama has still failed to endorse Biden in any meaningful way. While the beloved former president has made it perfectly clear that he does not want or expect Bernie Sanders to become the nominee, Obama’s wish to stop Sanders has not included the endorsement of any of Sanders’ rivals for the nomination.

Unless Mike Bloomberg offers moderate and centrist Democrats some proof of life at this week’s debate, his supporters aren’t likely to stick around. Time to stop Sanders is running out.

Bloomberg is reportedly taking the next scheduled debate a little more seriously, at least. He has lately postponed a town-hall scheduled this week in order to focus on debate prep.

“The country can’t afford to let Bernie Sanders skate by another debate without a focus on his extreme record.” — Bloomberg spokesperson

If party moderates like Bloomberg and Biden want to stop the juggernaut of Bernie Sanders, they may have only one more chance to do so. Soon, Sanders will have amassed a delegate lead that will catapult him into the nomination.

And the Democratic Party will just have to hope for the best.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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