Hoo boy: Americans heavily oppose Bernie Sanders's plan to let all prisoners vote, 17/65

Every now and then a tweet will go viral in which someone asks, Which outlandish belief do you secretly hold?

The outlandish belief I not-so-secretly hold is that Bernie blew up his campaign by coming out strong during that CNN town hall in favor of letting the Boston bomber vote.

I don’t deeply believe it. Obviously Biden’s entry into the race has done much more to tamp down Sanders’s support than a single answer about a boutique issue has. And logically, anyone who was kooky enough to be willing to vote for Bernie before he stated his opinion about prisoners voting is kooky enough to be willing to vote for him afterward.

But the polling on this issue has been so terrible that I sort of believe it. Kind of like how I sort of believe that Taylor Swift is a Rosemary’s Baby cloned from the DNA of a well-known Satanist. You can’t really explain how you know, but you know.

New from YouGov:

That’s a *lot* of wary Democrats. Sanders has framed his support for restoring voting rights to all prisoners as a matter of racial justice but blacks split 21/53 on the proposition. Even self-described “liberals,” Bernie’s bread and butter, stand at just 32/51 on the idea.

No wonder Republicans are rooting for this guy.

The obvious retort is to say that YouGov gamed the question. Of course if you mention “terrible people” and the Boston bomber, support will bottom out. And in fact, the crosstabs show some support for less extreme proposals to re-enfranchise felons. For instance, 65 percent say ex-felons should be allowed to vote after they’ve done their time (including 54 percent of Republicans). And the public is more or less evenly divided on whether nonviolent felons should be allowed to vote while behind bars, dividing 36/41 with 53 percent of Democrats in favor. *Maybe* if the question about letting violent felons vote too had been phrased more neutrally, e.g., “Do you support or oppose allowing individuals who are currently in prison to vote?”, Bernie would have gotten a better result.

Although we don’t really need to wonder about that. Quinnipiac did ask that question, verbatim, in its own survey recently. The numbers were a little better for Sanders — but only a little.

It’s roughly two-to-one against instead of roughly four-to-one opposed, but a slim majority of Dems are in favor here. A moral victory for Berniebros.

A fascinating wrinkle to all this: How willing will Biden be to use it as ammunition against Sanders in the primary? On the one hand, it’s obviously a useful political weapon. On the other hand, Biden has his own liabilities on criminal justice with the left, specifically his leadership in the Senate on the Clinton-era crime bill. Former prosecutors like Harris and Klobuchar can afford to draw a tough-on-crime contrast with Bernie but if Biden does it he risks further alienating progressives by seeming to double down on his 90s view of this subject. He needs them in the general even if he can win the primary without them. Maybe he’ll attempt to kill Bernie with kindness: “I think Sen. Sanders is coming from a noble place in wanting to let killers and child molesters vote, but committing certain offenses means you forfeit certain rights” yadda yadda.

Via the Free Beacon, here’s Sanders a week ago foolishly doubling down. Why he didn’t just punt on the Boston bomber question at the town hall — “I believe nearly all prisoners should vote and we can have a national debate about the worst of the worst” — I don’t know.