With less than nine months to go until the general election in November, the field of Democratic candidates has still yet to shed some of its biggest (and richest) names. Will the billionaire who used to be a Republican less than a decade ago win the nomination? What about the guy who probably should have run in 2016 if he was going to try and capitalize on his being in a previous presidential administration? Or how about that plucky upstart whose only elected position has been mayor of a midwestern town?
If the Democratic National Convention were held today, none of the candidates would have all the pledged delegates they’d need to take the nomination outright. However, there is one candidate who has, thus far, won or tied in all the primary contests, and seems to be picking up steam and momentum behind his campaign with each successive victory. In his most recent win, he got a large boost of support from young and Latino voters, two key demographics he could use to help building his coalition of voters. To many casual observers, it would appear that this man, if he manages to keep racking up primary victories, could wind up with the Democratic nomination.
But, what are his chances in the general election, really? The pundits are starting to weigh-in, and the consensus seems to be that, sure, he could win, but then again he might get smeared as a socialist, which will be different from all the other Democratic presidents of the modern age who were also called that word because he, unlike them, doesn’t run away from that label. However, as we do here at the world’s most serious political outlet, we wanted to cut through the noise and just get down to brass tacks and facts.
Can someone like this guy actually win in November? Let’s break it down.
He’s Extremely Popular. Elections Are Popularity Contests. But, Does That Matter?
No matter what the knock on this guy is, one cannot say he’s not popular with a straight face. He’s popular enough that even though he lost his party’s nomination the last time around, his movement was strong and vocal enough to force the national party to adopt many of his policy initiatives in their platform. Nobody is unanimous in their popularity except non-politician Paul Rudd, but when it comes to the world of politics, it’s hard to argue that this man isn’t one of the most popular candidates out there.
In the heat of the campaign season, not many people want to admit it, but every election on some level is a popularity contest. In order to win, someone must be popular enough for many people to cast a vote for them. Without being popular, no one has a shot, and whatever the criticisms of this particular candidate, no one can say he’s not extremely popular.
When this guy holds a rally, just like the current president, people show up. Not just people, but tons and tons of them. It would appear that the “socialist” label isn’t enough to stop average Americans from, at the very least, coming out in droves to hear what this man has to say. One could potentially argue, however, that rally goers don’t always translate into voters, which is unassailable in its truth.
He Keeps Winning Elections, But Does That Mean He’s Electable?
What’s also unassailable truth is that he’s won literally every single primary contest so far. In 2016, he won enough primaries and caucuses to give the eventual nominee a real run for her money. So in terms of being popular enough to get more votes than his competitors, this guy at the bare minimum does exactly that. Of course, this begs the question — if he’s popular enough to win elections now, does that mean he’ll be popular enough to win another election this fall?
One might be tempted to make the political calculation that someone who wins every primary election would have a good chance at not losing in a landslide. Some, however, eschew that way of thinking and truly believe that if this man, who is popular enough to fill large auditoriums to the brim with people, being on the top of the ticket would spell a 40+ state landslide for Donald Trump. Even though the demographics of the states seem to logically show that no candidate on either side could reasonably expect to win in such a landslide, the punditry class right now is abuzz with people warning that, should the enormously popular candidate who keeps winning primaries go on to be the nominee, he might lost 40, 45, 50, or even 7,912,019 states in the general election, which is definitely food for thought for any Democrat still on the fence about who to support.
The question every soul-searching Democratic voter must ask themselves is quite simple: Does winning elections make one electable? This guy has been in congress since 1990. Before that he won a handful of state elections in Vermont. So, at least on paper, he’s “electable” But does that mean he’s really, really, really electable? Does a track record of winning elections mean he’s someone who can win an election? He’s now the first candidate of either party to win the popular vote in all of the primary contests this far into the election season, but, again, does that really mean he’s electable and popular?
Will Any of This Matter if the Pundits and Former Republicans Don’t Think He Can Win?
In the final analysis, what might be the most important X factor in whether or not this super popular guy with a record of electoral victory can win is how much support he has from people with a vested interest in keeping him from winning who wouldn’t be supporting his candidacy in any other year anyway. Whether it’s former Republicans who are now “Never Trumpers” desperately begging Democrats to choose someone they would also be smearing as a far-left socialist commie anyway, or it’s hand-wringing center-left or even center-right Democrats worried that nominating Sanders is the end of the party, what the nation is tasked with now is pleasing these people and choosing someone only THEY want to vote for.
Everyone knows the pundit class and Never Trump Republicans are who ends up electing people in this country anyway, so perhaps it’s best at this point to just let them get together, in secret if they must, and anoint the nominee themselves. No more messy elections. Just let the people who keep insisting they know how things will turn out determine how things will turn out. Free will, after all, is highly overrated.
It’s true that, at least in the modern era, no one has gone on to win the big election without winning the primary elections, but so what? Can the Democratic Party risk nominating a guy just because millions of people support his candidacy and they keep showing up to vote for him? Is that a gamble the Dems are willing to make? Only time will tell.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.