How did Bernie Sanders lose
Why Bernie Sanders lost
Bernie Sanders has withdrawn his candidacy. So it is clear: Ex-Vice President Joe Biden will be the candidate with whom the Democrats want to drive Donald Trump out of office. Max, was it the right time to take this step?
Max Boehnel: Better late than never. Sanders was not doing well at the end of February when Joe Biden pulled away so incredibly from the South Carolina area code. It was a huge surprise and, for some, a shock. Then came Super Tuesday, when Sanders was ahead in just four states and Biden in ten. It was already clear then that something was going wrong. And Sanders should have thought about whether it was worth going on. The fact that he was withdrawing now, of all times, is due to the corona virus. His election campaign was mainly characterized by mass rallies, and these are not possible now.
Moritz Wichmann: I also believe that the corona crisis helped dictate that. But the pressure also grew because Sanders would potentially have inflicted more and more damage on leading candidate Biden through a party disagreement. He made the best of the situation.
Does Sanders still have any influence on the election platform that the Democrats will soon adopt?
Moritz: One could hope so as an optimistic leftist. In terms of the number of delegates, he is in a weaker position compared to 2016. But he will probably get enough together to be able to submit minority motions at the party congress. But perhaps he is even in a stronger position if the moderate wing of the party finally accepts, and there are signs of this, that the camp around Sanders is an important part of the party. Sanders and Biden have already announced that they are setting up joint working groups in which compromise positions are to be found.
Do people in the US even read party programs?
Max: I've never noticed one before. I don't even know where to look, probably on the Democratic Party website. But I am already wondering: should voters even read this? I am not aware that anyone has ever invoked a party platform in the political debate in recent decades.
Moritz: That may be true, but the program is also a decision-making process. See the $ 15 minimum wage increase: It has been in place since 2016, and three years later it was passed by the Democrats in the House of Representatives. It still fails because of President Trump and the Senate, but the program has an impact on politics.
Why wasn't it enough for Sanders again? After all, this time he was able to start with a much larger fan base and a lot more money. In between he was even the favorite to win the primary and had the most delegates after the first three states. Did Sanders make tactical mistakes or was it due to external factors?
Max: Even when Bernie was the favorite - that is, after the primary elections in Nevada in mid-February to Super Tuesday in early March - it was primarily because the field of applicants for the centrists was completely fragmented. That benefited him.
Moritz: Sanders did a lot right at first. His poll numbers rose steadily for months. With a little luck it could have been different. Indeed, Sanders then did not have a strategically good answer to the massive consolidation of the party leadership around Joe Biden right before Super Tuesday. But by then, according to polls, 50 percent of voters could imagine voting for Sanders. So it was really close. There has never before been such a sharp turnaround as there was at Biden in such a short time. It was really something unique.
Max: It has to be said that Sanders had both the party leadership against him and a large part of the mass media from the start. Critical articles were read for weeks with the tenor that it would be a mistake for the party to move strongly to the left and Sanders to become the candidate. Trump would dismember him and the Democrats as socialists and radical leftists.
Moritz: I also believe that very left candidates will have to think about how to better deal with the mass media in the future. It was a mistake in the Sanders campaign not to make any concessions and always use anti-establishment rhetoric. After Super Tuesday he tried to approach the normal democrats a bit, but that was too little, too late.
Max: His campaign team also underestimated the importance of black voters from the start. It had no teams at all in the majority of the southern states, where the democratic base is mostly African-American.
Moritz: I do think that the team was much more committed, for example with black organizers on site. But the black community has had a decades-long association with the Clintons and Biden. That cannot be made up so quickly.
Max: The most serious misjudgment concerned the white working class. She had supported Sanders very strongly in 2016, but this time Joe Biden. One explanation for this is that four years ago she didn't vote for Bernie for his ideas at all, only because she didn't like Hillary Clinton. That's where sexism comes in.
Moritz: But this time Sanders also met a super scared electorate. Many Democrats are really scared and want to vote out Trump for the devil. This explains this contradiction that people support Sanders ’ideas when it comes to content-related issues, such as the introduction of a state health insurance, but did not vote for him. That's just not the most important thing to them.
Did you also suspect the candidate Sanders?
Max: Sanders is very stubborn. I interviewed him once in 2015 and I noticed that straight away. Even now he often did not follow his advisors. They had recommended that he be tough on Biden in TV debates. He didn't do that.
Moritz: It has to do with the fact that he likes him personally. But also because the second choice of many Biden voters was Sanders himself for a long time. He didn't want to scare them off with attacks that were too hard, in case he needed them later.
The previous episodes of Max & Moritz were about:
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