After losing the entire South and half of the Midwest to Hillary Clinton, is it “absurd” to expect Bernie Sanders to pack it in? Barack Obama doesn’t think so, and told donors last week that Sanders had just about run out the string — and that was before Hillary’s big night on Super Tuesday II. Sanders disagreed, saying that nearly half of the country hasn’t yet had the opportunity to reject him, or something:
Sanders, a Vermont senator and self-proclaimed democratic socialist, while saying he did not want to comment directly on Obama’s reported remarks, pushed back on the idea that his campaign had run its course and he should throw in the towel.
“The bottom line is that when only half of the American people have participated in the political process … I think it is absurd for anybody to suggest that those people not have a right to cast a vote,” Sanders told MSNBC in an interview.
Sanders insists that continuing to fight Hillary Clinton will eventually lead to greater voter turnout in the fall for Democrats, a key to their eventual victory. Surrendering to Hillary at this point will discourage people from voting in November:
“To suggest we don’t fight this out to the end would be, I think, a very bad mistake. People want to become engaged in the political process by having vigorous primary and caucus process. I think we open up the possibility of having a large voter turnout in November. That is exactly what we need,” Sanders said.
“A low voter turnout, somebody like a Trump can win. High voter turnout, the Democratic candidate will win,” he said, referring to Donald Trump, the front-runner in the race to pick the Republican nominee for the November presidential election.
The problem Democrats face is that Hillary Clinton herself is a low-voter-turnout candidate, and so are the Democrats without Barack Obama. Between both Hillary and Bernie, Democrats have turned out 14.8 million voters. The top four Republicans have turned out 19.1 million voters. Sanders’ participation hasn’t made much of a dent in overall Democratic voter enthusiasm. The Institute for Southern Studies noted that Democratic turnout dropped 50% from 2008’s numbers in Southern states on Super Tuesday I. In contrast, the progressive foundation reports, Republican turnout increased by 75% over 2008.
Maybe math is absurd, eh? (Sanders’ ideas on funding his massive single-payer health care system certainly are.) In an interview with ABC’s affiliate KNXV in Phoenix, Sanders insists he can win in the western half of the country. Maybe, but what little polling exists in those states makes that assumption look pretty absurd. Hillary led in California’s Field Poll 46/35 at the beginning of the year, for instance, leads in Utah’s caucus polling 51/44, and blows Sanders away in Arizona itself 50/24 in the Merrill Poll last week. The idea of a Sanders sweep looks pretty absurd at the moment.
When asked about Donald Trump, Sanders dismisses the populism fueling his Republican analog by accusing Trump of “scapegoating” people for failures and running on “anger.” Er … remind us once again of your eat-the-rich platform, Senator:
Even the interviewer can’t quite let that pass, noting that “of course” anger fuels the Bern, too.