Hoo boy: Bernie leads by 12, Warren still stuck in mid-single digits in New Hampshire

A couple more polls like this and centrist Democrats who are panicking about Sanders will give up on Biden and start dialing up Oprah.

In fact, I can imagine Barack pleading with Michelle: “You have to do it. For America.”

She’s not going to do it, though. Which means the last best hope of Democratic capitalists is … Pete Buttigieg?

Sanders and Warren each come from neighboring states but one seems to be considerably better liked by New Hampshirites than the other. (Warren still leads the field in the coveted “wouldn’t vote for X under any circumstances” category). It’s worth noting that Sanders also led this pollster’s last survey of the state, 26/22, over Biden back in February. The news here isn’t that he’s suddenly ahead, it’s that his lead is widening. And there appears to be a reason why:

That graph reminds me of 2007, when Obama initially polled poorly with black voters against Hillary in the Democratic primary. Partly that was due to name recognition. She was world famous, after all, and he was still all but unknown. But partly it may have been driven by perceptions of his electability: Many black voters may have believed at first, for understandable reasons, that there was no way, no how, no chance a black candidate would be nominated by a major party in America. Once the polling began to show that Obama was for real, black voters began breaking heavily his way and the rest is history. Sanders may be seeing something similar afoot now ideologically. “I like him but I’m looking elsewhere since Democrats are never actually going to nominate an avowed socialist, let alone a geriatric socialist. Wait, what’s that? He’s now leading the race? Well, f*** it, then. I’m with Bernie.”

Bernie himself has become a believer, according to the Atlantic, all but measuring the drapes:

Aides say that Sanders is envisioning himself in the Oval Office, which has been guiding his decisions on both campaign operations and policy positions. Their assessment is that Americans want Medicare for all, but are just anxious that Sanders wouldn’t be able to manage that or any of the other big changes he’s promising. They believe that a tightly run campaign would demonstrate that he could run the country, too. (That’s a huge shift from his last run, which, even as it caught fire in the primaries, never reached a level beyond joking about making his 2016 campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, the ambassador to the Vatican)…

Doubters suspect a Sanders nomination could be the one sure way to give Trump a second term, but Sanders’s thinking is that he could get the same Democratic and anti-Trump votes as other nominees, plus all the people who would only vote for him. Over at the campaign’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, they love the video from Sanders’s October 2017 CNN debate with Ted Cruz, when he convinced an antagonistic questioner that higher taxes to match those of European countries make sense. After Monday night’s town hall on Fox News, they have even more moments like that, including when Sanders surprised the anchors by getting the crowd to whoop for government-run health care.

That’s cute and all but this is a center-right country. A Democratic primary is one thing but a national electorate would never embrace utopian progressive programs that the country obviously could never aff— [record scratch]

Lest there was any doubt that the great majority of Republican voters are suckers, reflect on the fact that they seem to believe that a “buy-in” option for government health-care programs might remain optional for very long.

We’re still many months away before the primary polls start being taken seriously — figure Labor Day for that — but I wonder what would happen to the dynamic of the race if Sanders jumped out to a formidable lead after Biden’s entry and held that lead for awhile. Imagine Uncle Joe announces on Wednesday, enjoys a brief bounce, but then gradually starts shedding votes to the more exciting Sanders over the next eight weeks. As of July 1st the race stands with Bernie at 40 percent, Biden at 20, and Buttigieg and Harris each in the low teens. What would Democratic party leaders do to cope with the looming prospect of a Sanders nomination? *Could* they do anything to try to head it off? Absent a celebrity wild card like Oprah or Michelle Obama getting in late, their options are limited. Any sort of DNC-driven chicanery to thwart Sanders would drive progressives bananas and risk a party split before 2020.

The only option may be for power brokers to choose a single candidate who’s already in the race and to unite behind that person, precisely what Republicans failed to do to stop Trump until it was too late. And if that’s what happens, my guess is that that candidate would be Kamala Harris. She’s well liked by most of the party, has Obama potential in consolidating the black vote, and has home-field advantage in California, which votes early. But how do you get Biden to quit the race early if he’s hanging around at 20-25 percent, placing him within striking distance of Sanders as the primaries approach? How do you get Buttigieg out of the race if he’s continuing to gain support, albeit not enough to make him more than a longshot against Bernie? Specifically, how do you clear the non-Sanders field for Harris if Harris is behind other top contenders like Biden and Buttigieg, as she is in this poll? To unite the non-Bernie wing behind her, Harris needs to show some strength of her own early. She hasn’t done it yet.