As Biden attempts to fend off the Bernie hordes, he has two powerful defenses at his disposal: Equally profound loathing of the current president of the United States and love for his predecessor among the Democratic electorate. The possibility of the kooky Bernie Bros driving the party off the cliff is a concern in the minds of many Democrats. Just as Republicans feared putting up some of our more colorful contenders against Obama (Nine! Nine! Nine!) some DSA-curious Democrats are cautious about taking such a risk at this moment. “I love Bernie, but…” is a common refrain on the campaign trail and polls show that Democrats care more about beating Trump than policy issues, with Biden handily beating Bernie on the electability question.
And despite what you may have heard, the tales of the Obama-ified Democratic party’s total demise might be a bit premature. The former president is still insanely popular within the party—much more so than George W. Bush was during the 2012 campaign. Remember that Bush was not invited to speak at the convention that year—a snub that is hard to imagine any Democratic nominee doing to Obama. In fact a recent Harvard/Harris poll measuring the Democratic party’s factions found that a plurality of voters still describe themselves as “Obama Democrats,” four times more than the popular labels of the online left like progressive or Democratic Socialist. That’s a big advantage for Biden. In 2016, when Trump took over, these populist antibodies had all but disappeared from the GOP.
Does this signal that we are still four or eight years away from Democratic nominee AOC? Are the institutional sea walls still holding off the rising populist tides? Or is it time for everyone to grab their mops and buckets?