PORTLAND, OREGON — In the United States of America, no one directly elects the President, unless they happen to sit on their state’s Electoral College board.
For the rest of its citizens, voting for the top office in the land is done indirectly. Though there have been extremely rare occasions when the Electoral College bucked the popular vote within their state, the overwhelming majority of presidential elections have resulted in the candidate who gets the most votes in the right combination of states winning, though much to people like Al Gore’s chagrin, it doesn’t work that way every time. Mostly though, the equation has worked out that the candidate who gets the most votes wins.
Normally, political scientists use things like primary season rally attendance to gauge how viable a candidate is in the general election, and normally crowds the likes of which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been seeing would lead them to conclude he’s not only a force to be reckoned with, but that he’s also got a very legitimate chance at winning the general election. But in today’s political climate, nothing seems normal, and despite the fact that Sanders drew 28,000 people to see him speak in Portland recently, most political pundits say he has no chance.
Henry Lowenstein is a senior fellow at The Center for American Excellentocity and Exceptionalism, a right-leaning think tank, and he told The Political Garbage Chute after Sanders’ Portland rally that, “Oh, sure, large crowds make a guy look popular, and sure, you need tons of votes to win so you’d be really tempted to draw the conclusion that he’s clearly popular enough to win the general election in 2016, but he’s a socialist, so game over.” Lowenstein says despite the fact that the military in the United States is “largely a socialist program wherein we pay for the feeding, clothing, housing and education of American citizens” and that “Social Security and Medicare are two large, and very successful democratic socialist programs” that he believes Americans are just “too gun shy to elect someone who doesn’t even have the sense to hide his beliefs from the electorate.”
Even some of those in attendance at the rally didn’t believe they could actually elect Sen. Sanders. “I love Bernie’s message. I love his integrity,” Jane Kirk, a 32-year-old Seattle resident who drove all the way down to Portland to hear Sanders speak told us. “I just wish there was some way I, and the other 27,999 or so people in here could show our desire that a candidate win, like with a system of voting or some shit, but what do I know,” Kirk asked rhetorically, then deducing, “I’m just an average American citizen, what do I know about voting for the person I want to win instead of the person my party wants to win?”
It’s not just conservative pundits who think Sanders has no chance to win, no matter how large his crowds. Vincent Gallow, a Democratic operative in Oregon, told us that he doesn’t “understand why Sanders supporters don’t grasp the concept” that “Hillary is who our side is voting for, no one else.” When we asked Gallow why that is he told our reporter, “because the establishment isn’t interested in grassroots campaigns that draw people from all walks of life and all over the political spectrum, they’re just interested in passing the baton to the next pre-anointed member of the elite ruling class, doy.”
The crowd in Portland was Sanders’ largest to date. But he has drawn large crowds in red states recently, attracting nearly four times as many people to hear him speak in Louisiana at the same venue the state’s governor, Bobby Jindal (R) announced his presidential bid weeks earlier. Still, says Lowenstein, no amount of popularity can help Sanders overcome the socialist label. “He’s just screwed. It doesn’t matter how many people clearly don’t care about the stigma of socialism and show up in droves to hear him speak, he simply can’t win. Until we live in a country where the people actually get to choose their candidates, he won’t win.”
“Does he have integrity,” Gallow asked us, “yes. Does he have a career record of holding the same relative values and positions for decades? Yes. Does this kind of refreshing honesty attract voters from very diverse backgrounds and ideologies? Yes. Does this mean someone who is that popular and is drawing crowds that big can win an election that depends on a diverse crowd showing up in large numbers to vote for you? Of course not. Go Hillary!”