Election Update: Can Biden Win the ‘Bernie Bros’? | NOW

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Welcome to this weekly update ahead of the November 3 US presidential election. With this week: Bernie Sanders is throwing it all, but he has left his mark and Joe Biden has something else to offer: his supporters.

“The road to victory is virtually impossible,” Sanders said in a video message addressed to his supporters, referring to the backlog of over three hundred delegates to Joe Biden.

The Vermont senator was briefly the top favorite in February, after good results in Iowa and New Hampshire and a big win in Nevada.

Then Sanders hit a wall. Other moderate candidates stepped out of the race and gave Biden plenty of room to unite that wing of the match behind.

Sanders formally won the top prize with Super California on Super Tuesday, but Biden even finished there with only 49 delegates less (out of a total of 393). In the states that followed, Biden further expanded his lead.

Why right now, Bernie?

The delays in delegates will not have been the main reason why Sanders has just left the race, because it had been known for some time. Chances were that he would persist to the very end. It would put him in a better position to force Biden further to the left.

The coronavirus emergency not only halted the Democratic primaries, but also prompted Sanders to adjust its priorities.

“When I see how a crisis is gripping the nation, aggravated by a president who is unwilling or unable to provide any kind of credible leadership, and how much work it takes to protect others, I cannot good conscience continue with a campaign I can’t win, “he said Wednesday.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, before starting a debate in the 2016 Democratic primaries. (Photo: Pro Shots)

It is not 2016 anymore

There are similarities between the defeat of Sanders in 2020 and that in 2016. Even then, his campaign died because the moderate wing of the party closed ranks against him. But the differences seem more important. Blamed Sanders’ supporters (not unjustly) for being Democratic party leaders on Hillary Clinton’s hand, this time it’s clearly the voter who tripped him.

Sanders couldn’t air or see Clinton. She was also so unpopular among his supporters. The relationship between Biden and Sanders is a lot better. The two are not friends, but there is mutual respect and they usually interact courteously. For example, according to sources within his campaign team, Sanders appreciated that Biden did not attack him “below the belt” after his unparalleled comeback in early March.

In announcing the end of his campaign, Sanders called Biden a “very decent man” and said he was looking forward to a possible partnership. The fact that he already showed some openness to his former rival in April is a clear difference from 2016, when a resentful and unenthusiastic Sanders only left Clinton in July.

Sanders wants to push Biden further to the left

It is important that Sanders Biden has not yet given a full endorsement. He still urges his supporters to vote for him in the primaries still on the program. In this way, Sanders can continue to put pressure.

Biden’s election program is already a lot more to the left than Clinton’s in 2016, bringing the former vice president to a new reality: the Democratic Party as a whole has shifted to the left. Because of the growth of young voters and the presidency of Donald Trump, but also because of the influence of the Sanders movement.


Young Democrats attend a Sanders campaign meeting in Iowa in February. (Photo: Pro Shots)

Can Biden keep the Sanders trailers inboard?

Biden cannot ignore Sanders’ overwhelming popularity among young Democrats. Sanders also emphasizes that he may have lost the fight for the presidency, but not for the next generation.

Victor Vlam: “Many popular young Democratic politicians, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, grew up in the Bernie movement. You could imagine that Biden involves people like that.”

The former vice president seems to want that too. Commenting on Sanders’ announcement, he announced that his door is open to him and his supporters.

It will not be an easy task to get the hard core of the Sanders movement warm for an establishment figure like Biden. Although he is less hated than Hillary Clinton, he is not very popular.

Biden is not the only one who preys on the Sanders fans. President Trump did not wait long on Wednesday before attempting to spark divisions among the Democrats and lure them away with one of the few similarities between his program and Sanders’: a hankering for a protectionist trade policy.

“Bernie Sanders is OUT! Thanks for Elizabeth Warren. If she hadn’t been there, Bernie would have won almost every state on Super Tuesday!” he wrote on Twitter. “This ended exactly as the Democrats and their party leaders wanted, the same as the Crooked Hillary fiasco. The Bernie people must come to the Republican Party, TRADE!”

Next week, among other things, we will be looking at postal votes in November, due to the corona crisis. The Republicans don’t like that. Too unsafe, they say. Is that correct, or is there something else at stake?

Thanks for your attention. Do you have questions about the US presidential race, a proposal for a topic or other comments? Send an email to matthijs@nu.nl

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