As outlandish as it might sound that an elderly socialist could win a national election, we should all wake up to the fact that it’s now perfectly plausible that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., could be the next president.

Though the campaign will take a lot and twists and turns over the next year and a half, ultimately it boils down to two questions: Could there be a scenario in which Sanders captures the Democratic nomination? And if he does, could there be a scenario in which he beats President Trump head-to-head? Breaking those questions down independently, one would have to answer yes to both.

Before going any further, it’s worth dispensing with the plausibility issue — the idea that Sanders simply can’t win because it would be too absurd. Given that nearly every professional analyst said the same thing about the possibility of Trump winning, it’s worth shelving such assumptions about what’s “realistic” in modern politics and just look at the possibility on its merits.