Feel the Bern: Why Sanders is “Most Electable”


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Senator Bernie Sanders at a rally.

Many Democratic voters nowadays are concerned with electability. According to August polls conducted by The Economist and YouGov, Democratic voters would rather vote for a candidate who would beat Trump than one who shares their policies. Jill Biden continued to perpetuate this line of thought in her official endorsement of her husband Joe Biden.

In the endorsement, she simply argued that “maybe we have to swallow a little bit and say I personally like [this candidate] more, but the bottom line is that we have to beat Trump.”

Well, for the voters who seem to be overly concerned with electability, Joe Biden is not the answer. In fact, contrary to popular belief, Bernie Sanders is the most electable Democratic candidate.

At first glance, Jill seems to be right: according to the general election polls, Joe Biden sits at +8.6 over Trump, which is the largest margin of any Democratic candidate.

However, every single major Democratic candidate is leading Trump in the general election polls. For example, Bernie Sanders is up 6.8 percentage points on Trump. Hillary also demolished Trump in the general election polls prior to the Trump’s thirty point electoral college victory. These polls are misleading because the president won’t always be the one who wins the popular vote, as was the case in 2016.

To analyze who is the most electable, it’s important to dissect what happened in 2016. There were two main reasons the Democrats lost, one of which was the important rust belt states flipping red. Important rust belt states include Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Minnesota. The rust belt is the manufacturing heart of the nation and has, over the last 40 years, been defined by economic decline, job loss, and dissatisfied workers. Therefore, Trump was able to flip all of these states besides Minnesota through pro-union and pro-worker ideas. Along with promises to pull out of NAFTA and the TPP (trade deals), he held many worker rallies in these areas and referred to himself as the “blue-collar billionaire.”

If Trump faces Joe Biden, he will constantly bring up Biden’s support of NAFTA and the TPP. Biden’s only response tends to be “Well, Obama liked me just fine,” as he said in the second debate. To win back these states, the Democrats need a strong pro-worker candidate: namely, Bernie Sanders. He has always opposed the trade deals and been pro-union. Furthermore, he proposed a bill to push the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He proposes to make healthcare free and single-payer, which is a popular policy among many workers. Whether or not these policies appeal to you is irrelevant, as they have been polling above fifty percent since 2017. Elizabeth Warren has been pushing the same ideals. However, Bernie Sanders wrote all of these bills. He is in many ways the pioneer in leftist philosophy and policy. Meanwhile, Kamala Harris has flip-flopped on her policies regarding healthcare and minimum wage. She holds too many private and expensive gatherings for the working class of the rust belt to properly trust her. For example, her support dropped tremendously, from 15% to 6%, after she started to renege on progressive policies like Medicare for all and back out of free trade deals. Sanders, however, has been fighting for working class rights for thirty years and has the plans and the credibility to earn their trust.

The other factor in Trump’s victory 2016 was the low voter turnout. In that election, voter turnout was at a 20-year low of 55.5%, down from the peak turnout rate of 64% in 2008. It is a general rule that Democrats are favored in elections with high voter turnout, and although the rule isn’t perfect, it is usually applicable. The Democrats need a candidate who will inspire voters to come out. The best metrics for this are individual donors and crowd sizes at rallies. Bernie Sanders obliterates all other Democratic candidates on donations and is notorious for his gigantic crowd sizes and rallies. On the other hand, Biden keeps defaulting to smaller venues where he prays there won’t be any empty seats. The only candidate who could potentially match Sanders in crowd sizes is Warren, but she only has half the individual donors Sander does.

In short, then, despite the rhetoric that the far-left agenda is a poor campaign strategy, Bernie Sanders is actually the most electable Democrat in the 2020 Democratic primary. There remains a myth that moderate campaigns are inherently more electable, but this is simply not true. However, that doesn’t mean Democrats are obliged to vote for him. If you are in support of moderate policy, then by all means, vote moderate. Bernie is the most electable Democrat to put on stage with Trump, and that should encourage people to vote for candidates they believe in–rather than, as seen with Biden, encourage the opposite.