Bernie Sanders

To Win the Presidency, Democrats Need to Beat Sanders, Not Trump

Even the most adamant advocates of the so-called “Resistance” have had to conclude the following this past week: President Donald Trump has had the most successful seven days of his presidency. Trump’s stellar week commenced with a debacle for the Democrats—and the utmost schadenfreude for the GOP—during the bungled Iowa caucus, succeeded by what Republicans considered a resounding State of the Union speech that resembled the Make America Great Again campaign rallies which first propelled Trump to power. All of this culminated in last Wednesday’s magnum opus: Trump’s full acquittal in the Democrat-led impeachment case.

Trump Has Even More Reasons To Be Happy

As if these achievements were not sufficient, there is more that provides the Trump administration with cause to rejoice. The president’s approval rating within the GOP currently stands at a stunning 95 percent, the economy is reverberating, and unemployment is declining. Foreign policy accomplishments, such as the elimination of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Iran’s Qasem Soleimani, are also laudable and have increased support of Trump.

Amidst the momentum in Trump’s favor, Republicans and the White House are profoundly confident about the forthcoming elections. An incumbent president who can present a strong economy could pose a major gap to bridge for the Democrats except for one fact: among the broader non-Republican and non-politically-registered electorate, Trump remains a historically unpopular occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Trump’s Overall Low Approval Ratings Among Americans

Trump’s approval ratings are confirmation of the latter. The president’s work is disapproved of by 51.9 percent of the public, while 43.7 percent do approve. To put this into perspective, the average approval for US presidents between 1938 to 2020 is 53 percent. In fact, no other president ever had a lower number than Trump during their fourth year in office come January. Even more concerning for Republicans: there appears to be a historical correlation between a president’s approval rating and his reelection prospects:  forty-nine percent and above on election day wins, forty-eight, and fewer fails.

More Worries For Trump: He Polls Low in One-on-One Races With Democrats

However, it is not only Trump’s approval rating that begs a concern but also the general election polls, in which Biden, Sanders, Warren, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar currently beat Trump—in some cases rather comfortably.

National polling, however, is more of an endorsement to find a suitable candidate than an exact science. In 2016, Hillary Clinton led the national polls throughout the race, except for two occasions, one reason why she was the clear favorite.

On election day, Clinton commanded a 46.8 to 43.6 percent lead. However, due to the unpopularity of both candidates, more than 4.4 million voters decided not to participate in the election, conceivably costing Clinton—who nonetheless won the popular vote—the presidency.

Trump’s approval rating compared to 2016, has essentially stagnated. His loyal, impervious base will once again vote Trump, but moderate Republicans, independents, and former Obama voters who decided not to participate in 2016 will all become potentially obtainable in November. The agenda for Democrats is thus not necessarily how to beat Donald Trump but how to find an adequate candidate to go up against him.

Bernie’s Rising Popularity Should Worry Democrats Because of His Low Electability

The latter imperative requirement is the reason why the Democratic Party remains concerned about Bernie Sanders’ surge in the polls. The socialist campaigns on a message that cannot be victorious in a general election as the majority of Americans and mainly swing voters lack enthusiasm for socialism. Already the electability of Sanders is thus highly questionable—and that is without Trump having started to zero in on Sanders’ socialist movement by launching attack after attack and commercial after commercial, which is likely to become highly detrimental to the senator’s campaign.

Sanders’ lack of electability is also the reason why the Trump team placed a target on Joe Biden near the start of this election cycle. However, since Biden’s campaign has begun dissipating momentum in Iowa, team Trump is now increasingly focusing on Mike Bloomberg also. The latter not only continues to gather momentum but also has the ability to outspend even Trump handily.

There is little to no doubt that the moderate message remains the only electable one at this stage for the Democrats, which makes Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, and Mike Bloomberg the most reliable bets to defeat Trump. Buttigieg is not on this list, as he simply will not be able to command the African-American, nor does he possess the pedigree (yet) to be president.

What it Takes to Win

In order to win the election, 270 electoral votes are required. In an unprecedented turn of events and a perfect political storm, Trump won 306 in 2016, including two unexpected and key states: Michigan and Pennsylvania. The last Republican who won both was George H.W. Bush in 1988. If Trump cannot repeat his triumph, his margin for error, and consequently, his path towards reelection narrows significantly according to the election map.

Two factors, in particular, should provide the Democrats with optimism in these crucial states. First, the midterm elections of 2018 previously indicated a return to a Democratic majority here. Second, and most importantly, Biden, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg lead Trump in both states by a substantial margin (Biden with 6.5 and 10 percent, respectively). Particularly Biden and his blue-collar, working-class appeal would make it extremely onerous for Trump to again convert Pennsylvania as well as Michigan into red state strongholds.

The Democrats Can Still Win

The race for the presidency is by no means lost. What should be a resounding win for Trump based on successfully implemented policies, is put in jeopardy by the fact that his erratic character and preposterous statements appear to overshadow everything. It is what makes him a historically unpopular president outside the GOP and whether Trump can win another election by only rallying his base while alienating the rest of the country is highly unlikely—if, and this question needs to be answered by the Democrats—the opposition gets behind an electable candidate.

If ordinary Americans are given a choice between socialism and four more years of Trump, the Democrats will lose.