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The Bloomberg Gambit

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Michael Bloomberg speech cropped (2).jpg

Generally speaking, I think the “would Bernie have won?” debate is kind of interesting as a thought experiment, without being terribly productive in practical terms. .  We know that Clinton lost, and we have very good reasons to believe that her defeat was not structurally inevitable; we’re not debating how many Gary Hart’s could dance on the head of a pin. Clinton might have won if she had avoided foreseeable and unforeseeable mistakes (and there is justifiable debate on which might be which), and another candidate might have won if s/he had different characteristics than Clinton.

Would Bernie have been that candidate?  Sure, maybe.  The early cycle polling advantage over Trump doesn’t seem to me to be very compelling evidence that Bernie would definitely have won, but it’s a data point in his favor. Then again, the fact that Clinton won the Democratic primary by a substantial margin, while running a more centrist campaign, is a data point in her favor.  We can go state by state, but it’s certainly possible that there would have been systematic differences between Bernie and Clinton that would have had an impact (positive or negative) across several states at once.

Along these lines, it was interesting to read Tomasky’s take on a Bernie campaign, particularly the bit about Michael Bloomberg:

The main point is that if Sanders and Trump had secured their respective nominations, Mike Bloomberg vowed that he would have gotten in the race, and that would have split the center-left vote.

Bloomberg, first of all, would have spent the money to ensure that he qualified for most state ballots. He also would have had the money to campaign nonstop and buy ads and set up field operations. The mainstream media would have loved him, hailed him as the sensible choice. A number of Democrats, not bound to Sanders due to his lack of party affiliation, would have endorsed Bloomberg if they felt doing so wouldn’t hurt them in their districts or states. Turnout among blacks and Latinos, whom Sanders never caught on with beyond the youngest voters, would have been lower.

Given all this, Bloomberg would almost surely have hit the 15 percent threshold that would have landed him on the stage of the three debates.

I’m not quite convinced. Granting that Bloomberg would have run (vow notwithstanding, it’s not a certainty), to cost Bernie the election, Bloomberg would have had to peel away more centrist Dems from Sanders than he took squishy suburbanite Republicans from Trump.  And even if he didn’t impact Trump all that much, a fair amount of his support would have been carved out of Johnson and McMuffin.  Centrist Dems might have deserted Bernie (there were, believe it or not, people in the Dem primary who genuinely disliked Bernie), but they haven’t historically displayed much proclivity for third parties.  Finally, the greatest portion of Bloomberg’s support would likely have come in states (California, New York, New Jersey) that Bernie would have dominated anyway.

 

 

 

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  • Warren Terra

    My biggest lesson from the election is the importance of the Media Primary. Clinton had been – at least as often as not unfairly – smeared by the press for decades, including both organized, obviously partisan efforts from the right and a lot of piling on from the mainstream. This utterly destroyed her, in a way that the cognoscenti, knowing the smears were vile nonsense, failed sufficiently to appreciate.

    In response, we need someone the media loves. If we’re lucky we can reiterate 2008 and have someone who’s intelligent and serious and who the media (mostly) loved at the time, but the main thing may be someone – anyone – the media loves.

    Second-best is someone the media doesn’t take seriously enough to hate. Which is as close as I’ll get to connecting this comment to Bernie.

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      Yes, that’s one of the main takeaways I have. The media will destroy some over total bullshit, and not others. Obama was not subject to such media complicity with bullshit, despite the GOP’s best attempts.

      The people who think the media hated Bernie and favored Hillary are really not engaging with that at all. (Why do they think none of the attacks on Bernie would stick, in that case?) The truth is closer to your final comment, but if he were the nominee it would be more likely that the media would take a stronger position on him. I’m not so sure they would’ve been on his side based on the way he reacts to tough questioning from the media.

      (I also notice that many Berniacs love Jeremy Corbyn, despite him also having a toxic relationship with the press. The irony is that Corbyn’s problems should’ve been perhaps more of a warning sign against nominating Clinton than against nominating Sanders.)

      • Sebastian_h

        The idea that Obama was just as bad as Clinton, and the only difference was the media response, is very self-serving bullshit. Yes, Obama is more charismatic. He is also much more squeaky clean.

        • Mayur

          Name ONE actually legitimate scandal, other than the speeches to I-banks (which are more “scandal” than scandal to me, but YMMV) in which HRC has involved herself. “shadows,” “doubts”, and “clouds” are all MEDIA FUCKING INVENTIONS WHY CAN’T YOU MOTHERFUCKERS GET THAT THROUGH YOUR HEADS RAAAAAGH!

          • Warren Terra

            Yeah, this, maybe (though not definitely) with less invective.

          • Matt McIrvin

            There is an actual difference between the two, which is that Obama was far more merciless in booting any staffer who attracted “scandal” attention, even if it was bullshit wholly invented by O’Keefe. The administration had to appear clean.

            Hillary (like Bill) was more loyal to her friends and associates, and wouldn’t fire someone if the negative attention was completely unfair, and it hurt her.

        • Norrin Radd

          Obama is so clean the Ty D Bowl man is jealous!

        • ForkyMcSpoon

          Obama is cleaner than Clinton, sure.

          But the GOP tried to stir up scandals against him that were no less bullshit than Clinton scandals that they published months and months of headlines about.

          They were not treated the same, even given that there is a bit more to write about for Clinton.

          • DAS

            Attacking Obama with GOP generated pseudo scandals would have been quite rightly perceived as racist. Amd the media didn’t want to be seen as racist. The media has no such qualms about being seen as sexist. And attacking a carpetbagger like HRC makes them feel special and elite just like attacking her scalawag husband made them feel.

            • Matt McIrvin

              I think they’d have happily gone along with it if Obama had allowed any of them to fester. But he didn’t; he’d sacrifice anyone in the name of scandal control, and it probably was necessary for him to do that, as much as it enraged me sometimes.

              Notice, Benghazi and emails mostly became a knock on Hillary Clinton during Obama’s second term, after Clinton was out of State and preparing to run for President. If that stuff had gone anywhere a couple of years earlier, I’m thinking Hillary would have been out, regardless of how bullshit it was.

    • Taylor

      In response, we need someone the media loves.

      I hear if you buy into Pete Peterson’s deficit-scolding, the media may consider you a Very Serious Person.

    • fleekon

      Clinton had been – at least as often as not unfairly – smeared by the press for decades, including both organized, obviously partisan efforts from the right and a lot of piling on from the mainstream. This utterly destroyed her, in a way that the cognoscenti, knowing the smears were vile nonsense, failed sufficiently to appreciate.

      This strikes me as exactly right. And the fact is, they had years to try to get those smears tamped down, and they couldn’t. This made her unelectable. I’ve been saying this since 2008, and I’m sad to be right. You don’t run a candidate who half the American public literally hates. The only chance they have is if the other candidate is equally as hated, and that is a crapshoot nobody should want to take.

      I’ll twist the knife once more: it isn’t JUST that they are vile nonsense and it isn’t JUST that she is a woman. For God’s sake, they have tried every bit of the same crap with Obama, and I for one think racism against black people is a stronger force of hatred in America than sexism is a factor against a rich white woman. But it does not stick. It does not stick against Michelle Obama–which is an issue people should really think more about–if it is just sexism, how come Michelle Obama, a black woman, is widely adored by the public, despite having taken relatively firm stands on mnay issues?–or Elizabeth Warren, it did not stick against Geraldine Ferraro, not even against Nancy Pelosi (although there at least you see some bits of the same thing). “Sexism” is not the total explanation for why Hillary Clinton has huge negatives. There is something personal to her. I’m still not saying it’s justified, but it is what it is. If she cared about the party she should have backed someone who the American public is not determined to hate. Remember, no other Democratic candidate has been hated that way in recent history.

      • Norrin Radd

        I think you’re very possibly right but the counter is that Michelle intentionally chose to be a very different First Lady precisely because of the reaction to HRC not wanting to bake cookies.

        That said a W VA public official tweeted that she was happy an “ape in heels” would no longer be running the WHITE House.

        https://www.nydailynews.com/amp/news/national/w-v-mayor-friend-joke-michelle-obama-ape-heels-article-1.2873128

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        As Norrin alludes to, Michelle is not seeking power herself. That is different.

        Also, I don’t want to comment on whether racism or sexism is “stronger”, but I do think they operate very differently, so I don’t think Obama overcoming racism to be elected means that sexism against Clinton is insignificant.

      • rea

        This made her unelectable

        She won the popular vote by a million votes. She didn’t win the electoral colelge, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say, “unelectable”

    • los

      If we’re lucky we can reiterate 2008 and have someone who’s intelligent and serious and who the media (mostly) loved at the time

      [1]

      yes, but the economy of 2006 to 2008 set up some of the MSM’s relative friendliness, while Palin[2] cursed McCain.

      ____________
      1. then the honeymoon ended…
      2. we now know that GOP “should have” nominated Palin as presidential candidate and had her amp up the crazy…

  • Hercules Mulligan

    I’m with Farley here– this is a fascinating thought experiment that I enjoy in the abstract, but I think it’s totally counter-productive for real political discussion.

    I’m also not convinced Bloomberg would have tipped the election, but if he had, at least we’d have a scapegoat who already really, really deserves something bad to happen to him.

    • Norrin Radd

      It would be interesting a month from now. Right now I worry it’s no more than a circular firing squad.

      I don’t know that Sanders could have beat Trump. I do think Biden would’ve taken him behind the gym poll wise.

  • ASV

    to cost Bernie the election, Bloomberg would have had to peel away more centrist Dems from Sanders than he took squishy suburbanite Republicans from Trump

    That’s not true. If he were a legit candidate — and it’s not at all clear that he would be all light, no heat like Perot in a Sanders/Trump election — all he has to do is win enough EVs to kick it to the House. Particularly given he’s not running against relatively unscathed primary Sanders, he’s running against oppo file Sanders.

    • AMK

      All he has to do is win enough EVs to kick it to the House.

      Where are those EV’s going to come from though? Like Farley says, he might do better than your average third-party candidate in the Acela corridor states, but would not actually win them–because even there, most people do not in fact have six-figure jobs in finance or law or media. So if he can’t even win his northeastern base, where is he winning?

      • ASV

        I don’t think there’s a lot we can predict in the abstract about an election between two party nominees who a) have never really been members of their parties, and b) would be widely viewed as extreme, and a third-party centrist who checks boxes the others don’t when it comes to Very Seriousness. For one thing, depending on how he polled, he could completely change up how the party nominees campaigned. For example, Hillary won New York 58-37. What if midsummer polling showed it 40-32-23 (S/T/B)? You know Trump wants to win it. Does Bloomberg abandon it because he’d prefer Sanders to Trump, or does he go hard in the hopes of drifting on Trump’s resources? I use NY as an example because it’s huge and both T and B would likely think they’d have an insider’s track, leading them to compete even if it were a reach. But I could easily imagine CT, DE, NJ, and VA being questionable in this scenario.

  • ForkyMcSpoon

    I suspect Bloomberg would’ve dropped out if/when it became clear he was going to guarantee Trump’s election and he had no hope to win himself.

    But I don’t know that for sure. I don’t know whether Bloomberg finds Sanders’s economic program or Trump’s racism more unsavory. The ways of the billionaire class are strange to me.

    And it would’ve created weird dynamics in the race… particularly given that Trump would have been way more bothered by the far richer Bloomberg challenging him than by Sanders… and Sanders conversely may find Bloomberg more irritating than Trump.

    Also the whole weird all yuge NYC accent election and twice the anti-Semitic dogwhistles.

    It certainly would’ve been an interesting election.

    One other weakness that people don’t talk about much is that Sanders seems to be much easier to bait than Clinton. We saw him go off over a misleading headline. And Clinton clearly got to him in a couple of the debates. When he laughed during Clinton’s gun control answer, I could tell he was pissed.

    How that would’ve played out with Trump, I don’t know. But the dynamic between Trump and Sanders would’ve been very different.

    • Bootsie

      But the dynamic between Trump and Sanders would’ve been very different.

      The debates would be “two old white guys yell at each other for an hour and a half”.

      • cleek

        “two old white guys yell at each other for an hour and a half”.

        now that’s change we can believe in!

      • LeeEsq

        Oh for God’s sake, can we please stop the Jews are at best a strange type of white person routine. Trump’s fans hate Jews just as much if not more than other minority groups. One of his closest advisors and campaign manager is an out and out Jew-hater who doesn’t particularly hide that fact. Yet, so many people on the allegedly better informed and sensitive about these issues are so wielded to the idea that Jews are now a privileged group that they have to refer to Sanders as an old white man. They also correctly comment that if Sanders was the Democratic candidate that we would be attacked as a socialist atheist Jew from Brooklyn. Stop it. Its like being stuck between two sides that will define you and use you for their advantage and than abandon you when it is to their advantage

        • Joseph Slater

          This.

          • Mayur

            There’s also the fact that these idiots who keep talking about “resentment toward elites” and “reachable Rust Belt voters” forget that (a) Hillary is actually from pretty Rust Belt-ish background (Midwestern, churchy, father was a textile shop runner) and (b) Sanders, as an East Coast Jewish* Socialist, is actually what those Rust Belt supposed deciding voters mean when they say “elite.”

            I mean I feel like I’m being forced to go blue in the face responding to this stupid fucking narrative again and again. Were the [reachable] people in the states that swung it who voted for Trump under the belief that he was a humble hardscrabble son of the soil? God-fearing? Unconnected to Wall Street and other rich people?

            Hell no. They just knew that he was saying that he hated DC bureaucrats and policy people and intellectuals AND JEWISH BANKERS as much as they did. THOSE are the “elites” that they were driven to tear up and tear down.

            • Norrin Radd

              I’ve accepted that Trump was anti- Semitic for some time but it didn’t occur to me that the great majority of his support was because of the Anti-Semitism. I thought it was mostly anti Latino. But you’re unfortunately probably right.

        • Ronan

          He is still a white guy. The fact that there is anti semitism in the world doesn’t negate that. Vulgar Whiteness studies has a lot to answer for

          • LeeEsq

            I refuse to be a Jew in the middle stuck between two idiot armies.

            • Ronan

              Ive long term plans to start my own country on a barren island somewhere in the atlantic where we’ll be completely indifferent and neutral on world affairs. if it ever gets off the ground, youre more than welcome to citizenship.

        • Matt McIrvin

          In the primary election, I think it was more relevant that Vermont is super white, in a white-rural-liberal way that is kind of anomalous for the US.

          I don’t know if Sanders’ strengths playing to that crowd would help him with white voters in the general election. But it caused him some trouble getting minority support in the primaries (though he got younger minority voters).

        • This is really idiotic. I can’t even begin.

          And:

          Its like being stuck between two sides that will define you and use you for their advantage and than abandon you when it is to their advantage

          WTF? Did that drop in from another post?

    • ASV

      One other weakness that people don’t talk about much is that Sanders seems to be much easier to bait than Clinton. We saw him go off over a misleading headline. And Clinton clearly got to him in a couple of the debates. When he laughed during Clinton’s gun control answer, I could tell he was pissed.

      Every time he grimaced or gritted his teeth while Clinton did one of her “Actually, Senator Sanders” moves during a debate, my wife became a stronger Hillary supporter.

    • Amanda in the South Bay

      If Bloomberg stays in for a few months, then drops out and does the right thing, does that still hurt Bernie? At least as much as Bernie staying in past his expiration date in the primary and hurting Clinton?

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        I suppose that depends quite a bit on what kind of campaign he’s running, and what he does when he drops out – does he endorse Sanders, for example?

  • sleepyirv

    My innate sense is the problem was really the “invisible primary” and Democrats might have been left with two very flawed candidates by the time any of us voted. I believe Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren would have won this election. Both had the “authenticity” of Bernie while being less “scary” than him.

    The coronation of Hillary Clinton was the most bizarre political sequence between 2012 and 2015. It seems strange so we just all assumed she would be the nominee when there were candidates on the bench who could have taken a shot.

    • Gregor Sansa

      Biden? I doubt it.

      Warren? Certainly possible. But you have to want it. A lot. I’m not sure she does.

      (I know; I’ve suggested that Michelle Obama should run in 2020, and she doesn’t want it. But the situation is different. If Warren were at least 4 years younger, I think she’d be good for 2020, because now that we have Trump, there’s reason to want it out of pure altruism.)

      • Why is her age a problem? Younger than Trump and Clinton or Romney. I don’t get this argument.

        Warren 2020.

        • ochospantalones

          Warren will be older in 2020 than any of those people were when they won the nomination. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t really worry about age if she really wants the nomination.

      • Why is her age a problem? Younger than Trump and Clinton or Romney. I don’t get this argument.

        Warren 2020

    • cleek

      It seems strange so we just all assumed she would be the nominee when there were candidates on the bench who could have taken a shot.

      people thought the same thing in 2007-8.

    • Bootsie

      How is a well-respected, politically seasoned, and incredibly intelligent former Secretary of State being seen as a future president “bizarre”?

      • sleepyirv

        It’s not bizarre that she would want to be President, it’s bizarre no one seriously challenged her for the job.

        • mpowell

          I think its a fault of the party if multiple decent candidates are not willing to run. We should not have been left to choose between Clinton and Sanders. It seems to me we haven’t had a normal primary since 2004.

          • How was 2008 not a normal primary? It was a competitive three-way race for some time and was fought out to the end. It wasn’t the clown car the 2004 primary was (or the 2012 & 2016 Republican primaries) but it seems historically unremarkable. And of course there wasn’t a primary in 2012.

            • wjts

              Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and Bill Richardson all ran in 2008 as well. It just became abundantly clear after Iowa and New Hampshire that no one particularly wanted to vote for any of them.

    • Murc

      I believe Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren would have won this election.

      Elizabeth Warren doesn’t want to be President.

      Joe Biden’s son died right before primary season started.

      It seems strange so we just all assumed she would be the nominee when there were candidates on the bench who could have taken a shot.

      Hillary Clinton is astoundingly good at intraparty politics at the institutional level and has prepping for a Presidential run probably since before her husband left office. Why on earth is it bizarre that we assumed she’d run in the primary and win?

      • sleepyirv

        It’s difficult to gauge the reasons persons give for NOT running as they are designed for public consumption. Perhaps Warren didn’t want to run, perhaps she did. We are not informed of her inner-thinking. As for Biden, he leaked the information that his dying son wishing he run for President. He definitely was considering it.

        Again, I don’t think it’s bizarre she ran. I think it’s bizarre no serious candidate ran against her after she showed she was vulnerable after 2008.

        • NewishLawyer

          I think Lee gets it right below and it is something that many Sanders supporters still have trouble grasping. The biggest supporters for HRC were women over 30 and most over 30s in general. A big bulk of Democratic primary participation is with older women of color and professional women in their 30s and 40s. Sanders had a hard time with this vote. The states where Sanders won were generally whiter than the nation overall.

          I think a lot of Democratic politicians probably knew her base of support and did not want to go against it. Also if a lot of people are like an acquaintance of mine, they were saying stuff like “There is no way Donald Trump is going to be the nominee. The Democrats are not that lucky.”

          What a simple time the primaries were.

          • Dilan Esper

            There were also phone calls made. Some of this has now come out in the post-election polling. Podesta in particular was riding Biden very hard not to run. It would surprise me if DWS wasn’t trying to keep people out as well.

            • cleek

              oooooh. phone calls!!!

              welcome to the big league, kids. they got phones and shit now.

        • Sebastian_h

          “Hillary Clinton is astoundingly good at intraparty politics at the institutional level and has prepping for a Presidential run probably since before her husband left office.”

          That’s why other people didn’t run. Hillary has been known for decades at being very vindictive at intraparty politics. Running against her without being very sure you were going to win would have been a great way to make sure that your political career was over.

          It was a collective action problem precisely like the Trump problem on the Republican side just played out earlier in the game. No one wanted to be the one to court extinction by drawing his/her ire.

          That’s what happens when you let someone control the party too much.

          • The Temporary Name

            Plus there’s Vince Foster.

            • Sebastian_h

              So, intra-party infighting is something you’ve never heard of? Hmmm.

              • brewmn

                Hillary has been known for decades at being very vindictive at intraparty politics. Running against her without being very sure you were going to win would have been a great way to make sure that your political career was over.

                Funny, I’ve been a political junkie since the Carter Administration, and I can’t come up with a single example of her doing this. Maybe you could help us out with some, you know, facts to support this fairly damning accusation?

                • ochospantalones

                  Joe Biden was certainly never heard from again after 2008.

            • los

              The Temporary Name says:

              Plus there’s Vince Foster.

              not much oppo file on him?
              a shoo-in.

              but I never understood the Biden thing. He seems unspectacular.

              O’Malley seemed to have been unjustifiably (nearly) ignored.

          • econoclast

            It’s true. Nobody would tangle with Clinton after the example she made out of Obama for beating her in 2008.

          • Warren Terra

            Honestly Sebastian I expect better of you than this. This is straight-up stereotyping of the “sexist b!tch” variety, it’s the same sort of “force her into a witch costume” nonsense that Monty Python dramatized and Hillary Clinton endured. Of course she’s a vindictive shrew – aren’t they all, amirite?

            Where in the bloody hell is the evidence for this finely oiled and well-used Clinton revenge machine? Who are its victims, in Bill and Hillary Clinton’s thirty-plus years together in public life? Can you name one of them? Because, truly, no-one springs to mind for me …

            Or is the revenge so total, the obliteration so complete, that the true proof of Clinton’s thirst for sweet revenge is that her many tragic victims are completely forgotten, as if they’d never existed?

    • AMK

      I think Biden would have cruised too, but the reason he didn’t run was because he though he could never get through the primary.

      As it happens, we had a young telegenic white liberal with a working class vibe in the primary. O Malley never broke single digits. We wanted Hillary.

      • LeeEsq

        “We wanted Hillary” is the key sentence. The largest group of people who participate in the Democratic primary process, middle aged and older people of color and white women preferred Clinton over every other candidate. Having the big institutional actors behind her, didn’t hurt Clinton either but even without them, most of the actual primary voters supported Clinton. She was popular with the bulk of the Democratic Party base.

        • Breadbaker

          O’Malley is telegenic to whom exactly?

          • ASV

            People who like to hear that they didn’t just talk about things in Maryland, they did them!

            • rea

              Unfortunately, they didn’t just talk about turning the cops loose on blacks; they did them.

          • Seriously? He looks like a TV president.

        • liberalrob

          2008 was supposed to be “her turn”. That didn’t work out, and when she played nicely with the historic candidate who had blindsided her campaign after it became obvious he was going to be the nominee, it was tacitly understood that 2016 was going to REALLY be “her turn”. And then the GOP got run over by their crazy faction; they decided to ride that tiger, and they’ve ridden it right into the White House.

          There was no better candidate than Hillary; certainly there wasn’t one who was going to get the nomination taken away from her a second time. Definitely not Biden. And she wasn’t a bad candidate. She was in fact the most-qualified in the field.

      • Manny Kant

        In what possible sense does Martin O’Malley have “a working class vibe”? His father was an assistant U.S. Attorney and he grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland.

      • Warren Terra

        During the time he would have spent setting up a campaign Biden was busy watching Beau – his beloved son, his political heir apparent, the father of his two young grandchildren, and the symbol of the life he’d nursed back into existence after his young family was violently ripped from him forty years ago – die horribly of cancer.

        Maybe you can imagine that his heart wasn’t in an uncertain run for the Presidency, without blaming Clinton or even blaming the electorate.

    • ASV

      Elizabeth Warren is great, but she ran 7 points behind Obama in Massachusetts in 2012. Yes, she was a challenger and he was an incumbent, but the fact is she has had one election and it wasn’t exactly an overwhelmingly impressive win.

    • The available bench for Dems in 2016 was extremely shallow. This is a challenge for incumbent parties, because rising political figures do not define themselves by their allegiance to the existing administration. It’s also a deeper weakness of the Democratic party, due to our ongoing losses at the state level.

      That said, O’Malley was frequently mentioned as a potential contender before he ran, and I think it’s hindsight bias to disregard him as a serious challenger just because he failed to get traction.

      • Richard Gadsden

        This is because the Cabinet Secretaries no longer have the freedom of action they used to, so they can’t build independent national reputations. This takes a dozen or so of the leading names of the party and puts them into jobs that don’t lead to the Presidency any more (the last former Cabinet Secretary to make it to the White House was Herbert Hoover).

        If Warren had gone to the CFPB, does anyone think she’d have half the political reputation she has?

    • Darkrose

      You obviously didn’t pay attention to the MA Senate race if you think Warren could have won. Even as it was, the orange shitgibbon dragged out the “Pocohantas” slur against her. Can you imagine if she was the actual candidate? The whole narrative would have been “Look at this elitist Harvard Law School professor who pretended to be an Indian to get a job due to affirmative action.”

  • Taylor

    I suggest you read Eichenwald’s reporting on the oppo file that Trump’s people had composed on Sanders. It was devastating. Trump didn’t need Bloomberg splitting the anti-Trump vote.

    Trump won by combining economic populism with white supremacy. It really doesn’t take much of an imagination to see what would have happened had this come up against a Jewish financial billionaire from NYC.

    • Hercules Mulligan

      I don’t know if Bernie would have won. Again, seems like a bad debate to have.

      But that oppo file is stupid as hell. Seriously, it’s pathetic. The amber alert thing isn’t even true (it came up in 2006 senate race, was proven wrong) and the “he stole cable after being on unemployment lol!” is so goddamn pathetic it’s funny.

      A) He’d be running against serial rapist Trump, and B) Eichenwald is an actual idiot who thought “trump leased office space to Iranian banks!” would end the election.

      • Taylor

        Strange that you’re emphasizing the least consequential parts of the oppo file, almost like you’re trying to distract attention from the juicy parts:

        Here are a few tastes of what was in store for Sanders, straight out of the Republican playbook: He thinks rape is A-OK. In 1972, when he was 31, Sanders wrote a fictitious essay in which he described a woman enjoying being raped by three men. Yes, there is an explanation for it—a long, complicated one, just like the one that would make clear why the Clinton emails story was nonsense. And we all know how well that worked out.

        Then there’s the fact that Sanders was on unemployment until his mid-30s, and that he stole electricity from a neighbor after failing to pay his bills, and that he co-sponsored a bill to ship Vermont’s nuclear waste to a poor Hispanic community in Texas, where it could be dumped. You can just see the words “environmental racist” on Republican billboards. And if you can’t, I already did. They were in the Republican opposition research book as a proposal on how to frame the nuclear waste issue.

        His pitch for universal health care would have been used against him too, since it was tried in his home state of Vermont and collapsed due to excessive costs. Worst of all, the Republicans also had video of Sanders at a 1985 rally thrown by the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua where half a million people chanted, “Here, there, everywhere/the Yankee will die,’’ while President Daniel Ortega condemned “state terrorism” by America. Sanders said, on camera, supporting the Sandinistas was “patriotic.”

        The Republicans had at least four other damning Sanders videos (I don’t know what they showed), and the opposition research folder was almost 2-feet thick. (The section calling him a communist with connections to Castro alone would have cost him Florida.) In other words, the belief that Sanders would have walked into the White House based on polls taken before anyone really attacked him is a delusion built on a scaffolding of political ignorance.

        Oh what the fuck, this mental masturbation doesn’t accomplish anything. I should never have looked at this stupid post.

        • Hercules Mulligan

          literally all of this was known during the primaries except the moronic unemployment/electricity story, so calling it a secret stash is dumb.

          look, of course there was bad oppo. there was bad oppo on HRC and bad oppo on Obama. who knows? But this is dumb speculation “they would have destroyed the communist!” yeah, maybe. this sure was a great year to prove how successful damaging oppo hits are, am I right?

          If this were 2007 Eichenwald would be writing about how the republicans will destroy the weird black guy named Hussein and his radical wife

          EDIT: also why the hell print this now? aside from being a massive dick? I know there are smug idiots gloating about how HRC lost, but what kind of liberal journo says “hmm, trump lost but there’s still this popular figure on the left. i should say bad things about him real quick”

          • Taylor

            It wasn’t widely known because Clinton could’t use it against Sanders, because she needed his supporters in the general.

            He was really untested in the primaries, because Democrats were afraid to go after him. Trump would not have been so constrained.

            FFS he didn’t even release his tax returns (and if you think Sanders would have got the same pass as Trump from the media for not releasing tax returns, you did not watch the same election coverage that I just watched).

            ETA Eichenwald makes clear why he’s repeating it: He’s sick and fucking tired of Sanders supporters saying their guy would have won. It’s time to wake up.

            • Hercules Mulligan

              Great! I’m not thrilled people on the internet are doing it either! But what kind of journalist is so thin-skinned that he writes a hit piece because people are mean to him on Twitter? Especially a journalist so consistently wrong, for six months, about the electoral impact of literally everything he wrote?

              A man who, today alone, apparently decided he needed to tell the world that the lesson of Indian independence and the Civil Rights Movement is that peaceful protest is the only way to achieve anything? The guy’s a moron.

            • Dennis Orphen

              It wasn’t widely known because Clinton could’t use it against Sanders, because she needed his supporters in the general.

              Evil Hillary, running a clean and positive campaign, and protecting her fellow humans who are working toward a just, fair and equal society that all people can enjoy living in.

              What a pantsuit wearing ball breaker.

            • Dilan Esper

              Hillary was untested in the primaries too. Sanders also didn’t run attacks, and the party was in the tank for her (e.g., debate scheduling).

              • The debate scheduling claim is an idiotic lie, so it doesn’t surprise me to see you repeat it. There were more debates in 2016 than in 2008. They were on a number of different days of the week. They were widely viewed. And Clinton did well in them — and could expect to, because she had done well in debates in the past.

                There is no evidence of any intention to manipulate the debate schedule to favor Clinton. Nor is there any evidence that the schedule was so manipulated. Nor is there any reason to believe that such a plan would have any effect. But it’s a well-loved entry in the It’s All Rigged! hymnal, and it’d be a shame to let an old classic go.

                • Dilan Esper

                  stepped, you are calling me an idiot for repeating proven, reported information. They deliberately scheduled debates on nights when viewership was expected to be low. And “more debates in 2008” is a Hillarybot lie that includes additional debates scheduled after Sanders looked like he might actually beat her. The number of debates originally scheduled was lower.

                  Seriously, 2 seconds of googling will confirm this. So stop lying about me- I am obviously not an idiot.

                • They deliberately scheduled debates on nights when viewership was expected to be low

                  Prove it.

                  And “more debates in 2008” is a Hillarybot lie that includes additional debates scheduled after Sanders looked like he might actually beat her

                  Wait, so they scheduled fewer debates to help her… and then they scheduled more debates to help her? This is classic “heads I win, tails IT WAS A DNC PLOT” bullshit from a true master of the form.

                  There were the same number of DNC-sanctioned debates originally scheduled in 2008 and 2016. One of the 2008 debates was canceled. Additional ones were scheduled in 2016 when the campaigns asked for them.

                  Seriously, 2 seconds of googling will confirm this.

                  Go-to bullshitter’s move. If it’s so easy to confirm, you can do it yourself.

          • lhartmann

            This is so much bullshit it is hard to believe. If this was “literally all known during the primaries”, I guess I was asleep because I never heard it.

            The difference between “bad oppo” on Hillary and Bernie is that IT HAD ALL BEEN ROLLED OUT on Hillary over the years; Bernie, not at all.

            The Sandinista video would have been a killer.

            The point is that Bernie had barely been tested with oppo, and the Repugs would have gone at him force 9.

            Also, too: the point of the piece was to take down voters who went for Jill Stein because of purity, something that I wholeheartedly endosrse.

            • JKTH

              The Sandinista video would have been a killer.

              I kinda doubt this. The type of people who would (a) know who the Sandinistas are and (b) give a shit are pretty much all over 50 at this point and wouldn’t vote for him anyways.

              • Redwood Rhiadra

                Bullshit. *I* know who the Sandanistas were, and I’m well under 50.

                I was also a Bernie supporter in the early part of the primaries. (Of course, in CA I didn’t get to vote until it was all over, and I voted for Clinton because the Bernie or Bust fanatics really pissed me off.)

        • xq

          This looks like the kind of things people thought were reasons Trump could never win. None of this probably matters. People who didn’t care about “grab them by the pussy” weren’t going to care about an essay Sanders wrote 45 years ago.

          • NewishLawyer

            Eh. I can see people making all sorts of weird gymnastics about the statements and damning Sanders for writing in a hippie-weirdo alt-weekly.

          • ForkyMcSpoon

            The difference is that the people who LIKE the “grab em by the pussy” bit would already be Trump supporters.

            The people who wouldn’t like Sanders’s essay are exactly people he would need to turn out, so he would need to apologize for it.

            But I agree, that bit probably wouldn’t have mattered much.

            It’s more the massive tax cuts that would have me worried. Sanders would’ve picked up some of those Rust Belt voters. But I’m reasonably sure that he would’ve lost some college educated whites in the suburbs who would balk at his tax hikes (meaning CO and VA might’ve been more in play).

            The Castro/Sandinista stuff might’ve hurt a lot in Florida, also.

            • xq

              It’s definitely quite plausible Sanders would have done worse among college educated whites who didn’t like his lefty econ policies. I’m not even saying he would likely have done better than Clinton overall. I just think this idea of an oppo research file that has a bunch of killer scandals is obsolete. This election provides good evidence that people mostly don’t vote on that kind of stuff.

              • I don’t know how you can say that considering how the election actually turned out. “Emails” appears to have been extremely damaging to Clinton, and the demographic shifts suggest that Trump’s remarks about women, Mexicans, etc. were also damaging to him.

                • xq

                  The demographic shifts with Trump were apparent very early on; that wasn’t scandals, it was his message.

                  I think the evidence that emails hurt Clinton is actually not that strong. But to the extent that it did, the worst thing about the emails was that it kept coming up again and again due to new information coming out. Unless the Republicans had any secret videos, Sanders past would all come out in May and June and be long forgotten in October.

                  I remember in the 2008 primary the media was obsessed with “god damn America” for a few weeks. But no one cared in October. The media has a short attention span.

      • But that oppo file is stupid as hell. Seriously, it’s pathetic. The amber alert thing isn’t even true (it came up in 2006 senate race, was proven wrong) and the “he stole cable after being on unemployment lol!” is so goddamn pathetic it’s funny.

        The shit they said about Clinton wasn’t true, either. And she was running against the serial rapist, too.

      • efgoldman

        But that oppo file is stupid as hell. Seriously, it’s pathetic.

        It doesn’t fucking matter. How long have Republiklowns told the most brazen lies for political advantage, and why? Maybe because it works. We didn’t imagine the fucking Swift Boaters.

        He’d be running against serial rapist Trump

        Yeah, so did HRC.

        Eichenwald is an actual idiot who thought “trump leased office space to Iranian banks!” would end the election.

        As did we all think that any of dozens of things should have ended the election. And maybe if the vote was within a week or so of the last debate, it would have.

    • easilyconfused

      The RNC and the press worked 30 years to convince a large part of the population that Hillary Clinton was unfit. They’ve had 90 years to tell us about the socialists. For 90 years the RNC, the schools, the movie industry, union leadership, and the press have told us all the Bolsheviks, socialists, and commies are are all the same, and they are AFTER US!

      Seriously – everything and anything Stalin, Mao, North Korea, or the VC have ever done would be brought up and described as Bernie’s secret Plan.

      • Hercules Mulligan

        Great. Sounds like a good plan to me. Guess what? The people saying this would have been an effective attack– including me, 12 months ago– also thought Trump could never win a general election and that HRC would win.

        If you’re that disastrously wrong about what “electability” means, twice, I for one don’t think you’ve earned the right to speculate about what would have happened to the guy with a 30+ head start in favorability ratings. And I include myself. I honestly don’t know what would have happened to Hypothetical Nominee Sanders. Seriously. But I do know that the people who are sure he’d have been destroyed have been proven wrong again and again.

        • Dilan Esper

          This is huge.

          Electability arguments are almost always covers for ideology. In truth, centrists don’t know any better how to get elected than anyone else does.

          • The same is true for fake leftists, but I sure see a lot of them saying “if only the Democrats had appealed directly to me…

            • Dilan Esper

              i agree with this too.

              • Dilan Esper

                (Though I should say, calling a
                people who attack Hillary from the left “fake” leftists is a vicious lie. One of the big problems with center left types is many refuse to acknowledge it is possible to be to the left of them.)

            • ForkyMcSpoon

              And #nevertrumpers say they couldn’t vote for her because she never moved to the center in the general election.

              While the Stein supporters or BernieOrBust types say that the fact that she tried to appeal to the common decency of anti-Trump GOP proves she’s really a Republican.

      • Phil Perspective

        Dude, the GOP has been calling Obama Stalin, Lenin, Marx and Che all wrapped into one. No one cares any more. Haven’t you seen the polling where the youngs aren’t bothered by the socialist label?

        • ForkyMcSpoon

          Have you seen the polling where the not-youngs are bothered by it?

          It’s actually the same polls.

    • Phil Perspective

      LOL!! Eichenwald is a clown. You people do know why he left the NYT, right? And most of the Bernie oppo was already publicly out there.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        “Publicly out there” is *completely* different from “being used in nationwide ads against him.”

  • Peterr

    The problem for the Democrats was that they didn’t have the *right* New Yorker?

    Yeah, that would have gone down really well in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Missouri.

    • Hercules Mulligan

      Three New Yorkers in the election would have been pretty funny, though.

    • Breadbaker

      I presume you mean Iowa, but your point is otherwise valid.

  • NewishLawyer

    I am generally not big on hypothetical what-ifs because most people tend to use them in intellectually dishonest ways and don’t admit to any weaknesses in thought.

    Since I am on the “it’s racism” side of why Trump won the U.S. Presidency. I doubt Bernie Sanders could have beat him. The e-mail scandal would not exist. The false anti-establishment angle would be hard too. But Bernie had his traps. He could be attacked for largely being a kind of loser before he became the Mayor of Burlingame (and he seems to have spent his 20s and 30s going from one failed venture to the next.)

    There is also the Jewish angle which interestingly seems to be more in the hearts of Jews than non-Jews. Jews like me are convinced that Bernie Sanders would have been subjected to huge anti-Semitic attacks in the general election. Interestingly enough, I know some mid-Westerners who have told me that Bernie Sanders did not come across as Jewish to them. I’m not sure what to make of that. I don’t know how anyone can see someone named Bernie Sanders (especially with his Brooklyn accent) as anything but Jewish. Bernie has been in Vermont since the 1960s and still can’t shake his accent.*

    The big problem for Bernie Sanders is that he could not attract enough supporters among over-30 Democrats (especially POC) to win the the nomination. Let’s assume these people come home for Sanders. Let’s also assume he has real appeal among the people who voted for Obama and went to Trump. The question then becomes are there enough center-left upper-middle class professional Democrats who would switch to Bloomberg and cause some states to flip. Could we see NY go to Trump because wealthier Democrats around NYC found Bloomberg appealing?

    *I do think a Trump-Sanders debate would have been an amusing battle of the accents and Sanders probably would cut Trump through on business stuff more.

    • Dilan Esper

      I thought HRC was an awful candidate, but she won the debates by a mile. No way Sanders does better.

      The reality is general election debates don’t matter nearly as much as people say.

      • MPAVictoria

        The reality is general election debates don’t matter nearly as much as people say don’t matter at all apparently.

    • Phil Perspective

      The question then becomes are there enough center-left upper-middle class professional Democrats who would switch to Bloomberg and cause some states to flip. Could we see NY go to Trump because wealthier Democrats around NYC found Bloomberg appealing?

      You do know why Sanders was polling ahead of Clinton re: Trump and the others during the primary, right? Independents!! Also, it seems some people here don’t understand why Sanders didn’t do well with older voters, especially PoC. Try asking them, or people who know them!! Sanders ran as a last resort, don’t forget. The point being he didn’t have the time necessary, in the primary, to build up those relationships. For them to trust him. So they went with what they knew.

  • rdennist

    “If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”

    A lot hinges on if!

  • Solar System Wolf

    I’m so delighted every time someone mentions Bloomberg as the perfect imaginary candidate. It’s too lovely a fantasy to spoil by having him do something so pedestrian as actually running.

    • Breadbaker

      I suspect you could have said that about Trump for much of the past 20 or so years. Bloomberg has actually faced an electorate before this year.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Fantasy Election Campaign League anyone?

    • liberalrob

      It’s too lovely a fantasy to spoil by having him do something so pedestrian as actually running.

      It is amazing, isn’t it.

      I guess it’s more fun than wallowing in the post-election slough of despond.

  • King Goat

    We shouldn’t overthink this. Against someone like Trump we didn’t need to figure out and choose what a great candidate would be, but just reject two obviously politically terrible ones. Don’t pick essentially Martha Coakley with decades more political baggage and a worse press relationship, and don’t pick a guy so on the extremes of the party that he wasn’t even officially part of it until he decided to run for the nomination. We essentially went with our version of Jeb Bush and Rand Paul.

    • Amanda in the South Bay

      Our hypothetical versions of Jeb and Rand who got more votes than Trump but lost on a shitty, antiquated technicality.

      • I don’t think this jackass troll deserves any more of our time or thought, honestly. Every one of their comments might as well be posted by an automated script. “10 CANDIDATE BAD 20 YOU SHOULD HAVE NOMINATED GOOD CANDIDATE 30 GOTO 10”

  • People can always pick their preferred set of facts that prove whatever favored counterfactual they want. It’s fertile ground for punditry but a tarpit for effective action.

  • SamInMpls

    I do think that the “Would Bernie have won?” question is productive in at least one sense: no one is in charge of the party right now. If Ellison is successful in his bid for DNC chair and Sanders secures a leadership position, that won’t will amount to a tacit acknowledgement of the viability of the progressive wing moving forward. Should that happen, it wouldn’t surprise me if various elaborate scenarios about how Sanders would have outperformed Clinton in certain states became popular.

    • Amanda in the South Bay

      1. Is Sanders even a Democrat still?
      2. His comments continue to show his weakness with PoC

      We need the Sanders equivalent who 1. Is actually a Dem 2. not so goddamned lily white.

      • You could say he’s a “fellow traveler”, like those registered as independents but who vote Democrat every election. He caucused with the Democrats for decades. But he’s not a “party man”, no.

        This wouldn’t necessarily have been a bad thing had he been the Democratic candidate for president. However, for this and other reasons I agree that he is not the one to lead the Democratic Party going forward. A “Sanders equivalent” who doesn’t have some of the same weaknesses would be nice.

        • rea

          A “Sanders equivalent” who doesn’t have some of the same weaknesses would be nice

          Ellison.

  • If this election should teach us anything, it is to be wary of conventional wisdom.

    Conventional wisdom among liberals, at least of the more centrist variety, was and is that Sanders was “unelectable”, or pretty close. But since that conventional wisdom also held that Trump was “unelectable” or pretty close to unelectable I think we need to seriously question the whole centre-left liberal construct of “electability”.

    However, conventional wisdom among Bernie-backing leftists, which is that this was primarily about a hunger for “anti-establishment politics” that would automatically have been more favorable for Bernie, is also suspect.

    We don’t know everything, we may not even know that much, but we do know that most Republicans came to accept and support a so-called “anti-establishment” candidate as their standard bearer. Would any significant number of them gone for Bernie? What about Republican-leaning “independents”? We also know that overall, the shifts in the popular vote were very small, suggesting no national “groundswell effect”, although there were much more significant shifts in certain states.

    All other things being equal (supposing it was a close election), would enough of the voters who shifted to Trump in the Rust Belt have gone with Bernie instead? And would that have been at the expense of lost support elsewhere, and could that cost other important states? Remember that in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio Republican Senatorial incumbents triumphed by larger margins than Trump did in their states. Was Trump’s victory in those states really due to his singular appeal or is there something else going on in those states?

    Short answer to all these questions: we don’t know. But conventional wisdom of any ideological stripe won’t help us.

    • Remember that in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio Republican Senatorial incumbents triumphed by larger margins than Trump did in their states. Was Trump’s victory in those states really due to his singular appeal or is there something else going on in those states?

      One possible answer is that, if most voters were expecting Clinton to win, many voters voted for Republican senators in order to check Clinton’s power, and a slightly smaller number voted for Trump, many not necessarily thinking he would win, while many who don’t like Trump assumed Clinton had it in the bag and weren’t enthusiastic or scared enough to come out and vote. But even so, it also suggests that these are not to be counted as “Democratic” states anymore.

  • CP

    The entire notion of Sanders beating Trump is based on the idea that if they’d had a real choice (whatever the fuck that means; speaking as a person of very low income, the ACA alone would’ve guaranteed my undying loyalty to the Dems if I hadn’t been on their side already) between economic populism and white racism, more voters would’ve chosen economic populism.

    Color me skeptical. White people have spent decades showing by wider and wider margins that when given the choice between these things, they choose white racism every. Single. Time. That means Bernie, like any other Democrat, would’ve had to make up the difference by turning out a ton of nonwhite voters. He demonstrated early in the campaign that he had a tin ear for those voters’ issues, and it didn’t get any better as time went by.

  • twbb

    I think we are in “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” territory at this point.

  • John Selmer Dix

    Sanders would’ve almost certainly campaigned harder in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

    • John Selmer Dix

      Whether Sanders would’ve won is impossible to say. But it is almost certain he would’ve done better. You don’t need to consider Clinton and Sander’s ideologies, only how they would’ve campaigned. Sanders style is to run as hard as possible, and to focus on traditional ground game (phones, block walking, local organizing). I can’t find the article now, but the Clinton campaign was depending in part on some kind of algorithm to tell them where to target their ads. Bill Clinton supposedly was ignored by Mook et al when he asked why they were taking the rust belt for granted.

      They thought Pennsylvania was safe and ignored it, despite democrats in PA knowing otherwise.

      She thought Wisconsin was safe, a state she should’ve known she was going to have trouble in, and which she didn’t visit since April!

      Florida was also showing signs of distress way in advance.

      While I understand polling doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation, I think we are all overplaying the role of “scandals,” since earlier opinion polling showed that most people didn’t care about them, neither Clinton’s emails nor Trump’s sexual violence and racism.

      And the analysis has to account for the fact that Trump did not win more votes than Romney or McCain. Clinton won far fewer votes than Obama 08 and Obama 12, and she won them in the wrong places. Trump didn’t do anything right, and really, he didn’t. He just won the same assholes the Republicans always win.

      It’s much easier for Republicans to win. The Democrats have to play it right to win the map, and Clinton didn’t.

      • Richard Gadsden

        I think Clinton is now nearly up to the Obama 12 numbers, isn’t she?

        Let’s not do total vote arguments this year; California is still a million votes away from finished.

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