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Progressives and the South

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This is a good run-down of why Bernie was slaughtered in the Southern primaries and what this means for the future. Basically, if a leftist presidential candidate wants to be successful in the South, that candidate has to have relationships with the black community and be able to speak to their concerns. To say the least, Bernie Sanders did not have those relationships or that ability. Moreover, if Progressives want to win in the South more broadly, they have to put race front and center in their analysis, organize on the local level to elect candidates, and simply ignore or isolate the reality that this might upset white voters who weren’t going to back your ideas anyway (this was the ultimate factor that doomed Operation Dixie in 1946, when the CIO was so fearful of alienating whites that it isolated the black workers who actually wanted unionization and never won the whites over). In the end, the true Democratic Party base is black women. Unfortunately, parts of the white college-educated left think they are the base because they are the most rabid for pushing policies to the left, but what “the base” means is your most hardcore voters that don’t need to be convinced to vote for you but do need to be convinced to work for you, i.e., the idiots who will back Trump even if he personally shoots someone. This is the ticket for southern success. It ain’t easy, but it’s necessary.

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  • dww44

    This is a pretty accurate take on the status of the Democratic party in the south. It does explain why Bernie didn’t have any broadbased appeal except on college campuses where he was close to being worshipped by those millenials who weren’t already firmly committed Republicans.

    There is a nascent effort in this central part of Georgia to build a more broad-based party with appeal across racial lines. It is needed for the Democratic party to regain an electoral foothold at the state level.

    • FlipYrWhig

      IIRC amateur pundits in my Facebook feed got all giddy about how Bernie Sanders was drawing huge crowds in red state… college towns.

      • xq

        This article does the same thing. Tens of thousands of people showed up at a march! Not a serious analysis.

  • saraeanderson

    Bernie’s lack of appeal among POC is what ultimately squelched my interest in him.

    • Scopedog

      That’s pretty much the truth. But of course, the “Bernie in 2020!” folks are trying to claim that some poll or another shows that Bernie is very popular among POC–and that’s a load of bullshit, to be honest.

  • y10nerd

    It’s an interesting tell that throughout the article, Clinton’s support in the black community of the South is framed as a sort of obstacle to overcome rather than as the means by which to build a left-wing movement in the South. Or at least that’s how it felt like to me.

    There is a strong organizational support among black voters in the South and the party’s politicians are able to utilize them if they seem authentically involved and connected to their issues. Clinton winning in some ways is a great base start rather than something that has to be dealt with.

    It’s also telling to see that the few comments on the site involve the DNC, how black voters need to give up religion and getting upset that John Lewis supported the ‘Goldwater girl’.

    • Murc

      It’s an interesting tell that throughout the article, Clinton’s support
      in the black community of the South is framed as a sort of obstacle to
      overcome rather than as the means by which to build a left-wing movement
      in the South.

      It is?

      In the context of trying to win the Democratic Primary, this was absolutely an obstacle to be overcome. It is also the means by which to build a left-wing movement in the south.

      Both those things can be simultaneously true.

      • y10nerd

        I agree, but this isn’t the primary anymore, so the continued implicit framing that support for Clinton is something to overcome now seems a little weird. There were a few inflection points (and maybe I’m just too cynical of a reader) that suggests to me that the author didn’t necessarily believe that black Clinton voters wouldn’t be the core of that strategy.

        • Murc

          There were a few inflection points (and maybe I’m just too cynical of a reader)

          Honestly? The article was really muddled on a lot of points and conflated, accidentally or not, a lot of things that really need to be very, very clearly demarcated.

  • if all of NC had the politics of the triangle, we’d be solidly Democratic as NY. but, the relatively prosperous college towns of Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh are islands in a vast rural conservative ocean. i’m not sure it’s possible to replicate the progressive successes of a place like Durham in a place like Fayettville or Goldsboro (military towns).

    • Nym w/o Qualities

      That is gradually working in Virginia.

      • Rob in CT

        That still has inherent limitations, given the design of our system (you can have cities out-vote rural areas, but rural areas will continue to punch above their weight so you’ll have problems in the HoR state & federal).

        • Nym w/o Qualities

          Oh sure, but the bluer and bigger the cities along I-81 get, the better.

    • nominal

      Those military towns have a ton of POC in them. Get them to vote and you’re doing pretty good. Granted, that’s not easy…

      • yeah, that’s probably true.

        and double-checking, it looks like Fayetteville actually voted for Obama in 2008. so, maybe there’s hope.

      • S. Oelek

        Lots of military folks seem to vote in their home state, though. My bro-in-law bounced around from state to state (as they are forced to do) but always retained his NH voter registration. Not sure how common this is, so anecdatum, ymmv, etc.

  • cs

    If your base is defined as the people who will vote for you no matter what, doesn’t it follow that you can take them for granted (to some extent) and the key to winning (at least in a general election) is to appeal to people outside the base?

    • TRAITOR!

    • Joe Paulson

      The Democratic base apparently isn’t quite the same as Sanders’ base.

      He needed the support of the Democratic base to win the South in the primaries. Need to get past there to win in the general. Republican candidates have this issue too.

    • nominal

      In a different electorate, maybe. In the US, though, generally enthusiastic turnout of your base is far more important than appealing to swing voters. There aren’t really very many of those unicorns.

    • cs

      Having second thoughts about my own comment…in the time of the Trump voter fraud panel, this is probably not the moment to take the base vote for granted. Maybe I would argue that the Democratic party (or at least some in the Democratic party) should worry less about appealing to their base and more about empowering their base.

      • kvs

        Erik addressed that in the post. And yes, your conclusion here is close to the mark since your base are also your volunteers and donors. And your base won’t do either of those things for you if they’re neglected.

        However, the outreach you do to engage your base and motivate them to participate in your party and your party’s campaigns is different than the outreach you do to motivate people to vote. For one, it’s more intensive. For two, it requires more time and more constant effort.

    • Um, you still need to people to volunteer to mobilize other people, get the vote out, and such. That’s where you need your base.

  • Rob in CT

    I’m pretty skeptical about any strategy for liberal success in the South, myself, but this seems as plausible as anything.

    • Joe Paulson

      Key to me is picking up a few states like Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. You can get some success in other parts of the South, including winning as a senator or governor.

      • Asano Sokato

        Florida is not the South (excepting the panhandle).

        • Joe Paulson

          It was part of the Confederacy. Sanders did bad there.

          But, perhaps, a list of states then.

          • Asano Sokato

            Simple: all the states you think, just not south of Orlando or north of Richmond.
            Here are some handy maps. But in short, where there’s a Waffle House.

            • Joe Paulson

              Thanks. The title of the link says “South” Florida isn’t really the South.

              The panhandle from what I can tell is only part of the rest of the state. So, it is a bit complicated. People can probably split up “the South” in various ways to point to “non-South” aspects of NC too, I gather.

              • diogenes

                Cary (bedroom community to Raleigh) is frequently known as the Containment Area for Relocated Yankees…

              • BiloSagdiyev

                The panhandle of Florida, aka, “Where Alabama Meets the Sea.”

            • PohranicniStraze

              Several of those maps would also seem to prove that Texas isn’t part of the South, which makes me a little suspicious of their methodology.

            • firefall

              bah

        • Sentient AI From The Future

          I beg to differ. The meatbag hasnt been back in nearly 20 years now, but Jacksonville certainly is the south, even as a reasonably large city. Basically anywhere with equal or less dense population wise than the standard 1/4 acre single family home developments is the south. And Orlando may as well be a walled city, as clear cut as the divisions are between a urban blue area and rural red one.

          Yes, the South Florida Sprawl is pretty diverse, and to a lesser extent so is the Tampa st Pete area. But the rest is still the south, even if parts of it wear Margaritaville t-shirts.

    • FlipYrWhig

      But I think we also have to be careful not to rule out other strategies for Democratic success on the same map, like what Roy Cooper and Jon Bel Edwards did in NC and LA.

      BTW, regarding Louisiana, I loved the way Russell Honore was talking in that article quoted here a while back about environmental justice in that state. He’s old now but it seems like there’s another prong to the strategy: fiery-yet-reflective left-of-center military types from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. That seems like it would play ALL DAY in the South.

      • Erik Loomis

        Yes, certainly each race depends on the individual dynamics of the situation.

    • McAllen

      In the context of a Democratic primary, of course there’s a strategy for liberal success in the South. It’s not like black women always vote for the most right-wing candidate.

      • Rob in CT

        Oh, if the primary is the only consideration, sure. I was thinking more along the lines of someone who can win primaries *and* have more success in the general than recent Dem candidates.

    • TheBrett

      It’s not going to be easy, but there’s probably some states we could win majorities in again if we could get heavy turnout among non-white voters, plus maybe 20-30% of the white vote.

      • rlc

        The factoid that I find most sad about the GA-06 special election is that (supposedly) the one black majority precinct had something like 34% turnout. Duncan Black honed in that problem today. [Is that factoid still rated true?]

  • FlipYrWhig

    Didn’t read the article yet but: isn’t this pretty much the Jesse Jackson ’84 and ’88 campaigns? TBH I’m curious about why we hear so little about Jackson as a consequential personage in late 20th-century Democratic/liberal history.

    • The Realist

      It’s a little known fact that Jesse Jackson did surprisingly well in Appalachia during the ’88 primaries–far better than Barack Obama. What happened in those 20 years that made a not insignificant portion of white, Appalachian voters vote for a black man with a far more left-wing platform in 1988 but not one with a moderate platform in 2008?

      • FlipYrWhig

        Fox News and hate radio replaced paper newspapers and network news.

        • Erik Loomis

          Paper newspapers in the South were not exactly paragons of Progressive virtue and as for radio, let me remind you that Jesse Helms got his start as a right-wing radio host in North Carolina.

          • FlipYrWhig

            Fair enough, but the question was about Appalachia.

        • humanoidpanda

          1. At a guess a lot of Appalachians back then still remembered the Depression, and were more left wing than their children.
          2.A lot of people are attracted to the most radical option on the ballot

          • FlipYrWhig

            Also, the Kennedy-Johnson War on Poverty was centered on Appalachia and, somehow, preceded the Jackson runs by only 20 years.

          • wjts

            Right. A 60-year-old voter in 1988 Appalachia would have lived through the changes brought about by things like the TVA and the Rural Electrification Act. A 30-year-old voter would have lived through the changes brought about by the War on Poverty. A 60-year-old voter in 2008 Appalachia would remember the latter, but had also been exposed to 30 years of “government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem” propaganda and a 30-year-old voter would have been hearing it their entire life.

          • busker type

            The generation of Appalachians born in the teens and twenties were overwhelmingly democrats. Not to say that they were progressive on race or social issues (think Robert Byrd) but they saw the New Deal and the Great Society and remembered the bad old days before the mines were unionized, and they new not to fuck around with republicans.

            But I think #2 is really under-estimated… H. John Rogers, a lawyer and political columnist in WV used to call this the “Fuck You” vote. Basically a lot of people just go to the polls so they can say “Fuck You” to the powers that be. Explains how you get people voting for Bernie in the primary and then Trump in the general. Explains the popularity of Jesse Jackson in ’88 and the fact that some unknown Felon in Texas beat Obama in the 2012 primary.

            • PohranicniStraze

              ” the fact that some unknown Felon in Texas beat Obama in the 2012 primary.”

              You mean the 2012 Texas primary that Obama won with 88%, or some other 2012 Texas primary?

      • MacCheerful

        I would also guess that coal, as a problem in itself, was not much on the agenda. In 1988 Jackson would not have had to say one word re climate change.

      • gocart mozart

        “What happened in those 20 years that made a not insignificant portion of
        white, Appalachian voters vote for a black man with a far more
        left-wing platform in 1988 but not one with a moderate platform in 2008?”

        Fox, Rush, Clear Channel and so on.

      • George Carty

        Perhaps because the fight against climate change (which Democrats now embrace, and which is clearly seriously bad news for areas dependent on coal mining) wasn’t a major issue in 1988?

      • diogenes

        My TarHeel grandparents on both sides were yellow dog Democrats and loved “Mr. Rusoveld”. Dad remembered when the REA brought power to their farmhouse during the Depression.

        A chicken in every pot matters when you’ve had an empty belly.

      • rm_rm_rm

        In 2000, Appalachians I knew loved Bill Clinton, and were positive about Mrs. Clinton. Now they hate her. Also, in 2008 Democratic primaries Appalachian Democrats went overwhelmingly for Clinton, because racism.

        What everyone else has said here — older generations were a lot less conservative, right-wing propaganda hadn’t scaled up yet, and also churches and political ideology were more in separate worlds (local politics, of the fixing-roads-and-running-small-towns type, was deeply intertwined with churches, but that’s different).

  • So is the term “progressive” now just a generic synonym for “left?” I noticed that Chait referred to critics on his left with said term.

    • kvs

      I think that’s a misapplication. There’s a return of the Naderite-left that is rabidly anti-Democrat; associates neoliberal, liberal, and progressive politics with the Democratic Party; and therefore sets itself apart from all of them on a “the friend of my enemy is my enemy” basis.

      On a separate note, Nader gave an interview where he finally said the GOP and the Dems have a vast ideological gulf between them. That change in the fundamental premise behind his critique of the Democratic Party since 1999, however, did not lead him to change his strategic and tactical view on the need to not support the Democratic Party.

      • Terok Nor

        “Nader gave an interview where he finally said the GOP and the Dems have a vast ideological gulf between them.”
        O.J. said the other day that he realized he hasn’t been a good Christian.
        Both accurate admissions. Worth about as much.

  • Rusty SpikeFist

    if a leftist presidential candidate wants to be successful in the South, that candidate has to have relationships with the black community and be able to speak to their concerns. To say the least, Bernie Sanders did not have those relationships or that ability.

    If this is implying that Hillary Clinton was “able to speak to th[e] concerns” of the Black community, I’d love to see any credible evidence of that, except insofar as the overriding concern of the Black community involves having a candidate come kiss the ass of 90-year-old church ladies by coming into their houses of worship and remembering to clap on the upbeat or downbeat or whatever fucking beat you’re supposed to clap on (personally don’t know and don’t sufficiently give a shit to spend 30 seconds googling it). beyond that, she was kind of drawing dead, and her candidacy proved it won’t matter until a lot of old people die.

    • FlipYrWhig

      You are truly a foul person.

      • Rusty SpikeFist

        Thanks for such a detailed list of all the Clinton policy positions which were “able to speak to th[e] concerns” of the Black community, relative to Sanders’s. That level of detail really convinces a nonzero number of human beings that your love for Clinton has some kind of rational basis.

        • FlipYrWhig

          How about this? Fuck you, you’re hideous.

    • Justin Runia

      don’t sufficiently give a shit
      don’t sufficiently give a shit
      don’t sufficiently give a shit

      yep

    • Rob in CT

      kiss the ass of 90-year-old church ladies by coming into their houses of worship and remembering to clap on the upbeat or downbeat or whatever fucking beat you’re supposed to clap on (personally don’t know and don’t sufficiently give a shit to spend 30 seconds googling it).

      Otherwise known as developing a relationship with the community in question.

      I mean, hey, I wouldn’t like dealing with that shit either, which is why I’m not going to be running for anything more significant that my little local position (though in CT I might have fewer church events to deal with). Ick. But you know – that’s politics.

      • Rusty SpikeFist

        Erik listed “developing a relationship” with the Black community and “speak[ing] to their concerns” as two separate items. I know you Clinton people would love to elide those two questions, and pretend that the former is a close substitute for the latter, but it actually isn’t.

        • Erik Loomis

          You are reading way too much into those two phrases; not surprisingly, it fits your preconceived notions.

        • Rob in CT

          First, I voted for Bernie, asshole.

          Second, you blatantly ignored part of what Erik was saying, and I pointed it out. I’m not the one eliding something.

        • Justin Runia

          Wow, you are dense. It’s not our job to regurgitate the volumes of writing that have already been written about the Clintons and southern blacks, but here’s some cliff notes for you:
          – Obvious cultural touchstones from living in the south and enjoying what it has to offer, here’s the classic Toni Morrison description of Bill Clinton: “Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.” Dude knew the words to Lift Every Voice and Sing, which is considered to be the “Negro National Anthem”.
          – Bill Clinton appointed record amounts of black people to his administration while in the White House
          – It’s hard to imagine now, but 30 years ago pretty much all Black elected leaders were of the Ho-Tep / Personal Responsibility strain, and backed (with reservations) both welfare reform and the Clinton Crime Bill (you know, that one that Bernie voted for while he was in the House of Reps.) Charlie Rangel famously advocated to Nixon that he needed to ramp up the War on drugs, due to the toll it was taking on the black community.
          – While Bill Clinton was governing in Arkansas, Hillary Clinton advocated very strongly for child education and health, resulting in public expenditures on schooling and hospitals that met needs that were previously unserved in the black community.
          – Both black wealth and unemployment had their respective highs and lows during the Clinton administration.

          I know there will never be enough facts to quench your salt, but at least now you can’t act like you don’t have the info.

          • wjts

            No puny “fact” can penetrate the thick layer of rust that covers the SpikeBrain.

          • Brien Jackson

            This gets at the big divide between Bernie and the Bros and most of the rest of the coalition, including black voters: Bernie and the Bros are running against a “Democratic establishment” that most Democratic voters are actually pretty happy with.

            • kvs

              Yep, their argument to Democratic voters is of the “wake up sheeple” variety.

              • Brien Jackson

                Yeah. Even for the more well meaning types who would never ascribe to the “bend the knee” stuff, there’s still a total inability to conceive of coalition building that takes the concerns, priorities, and opinions of allies on their own terms and seeks to work together. At best, every disagreement must be met with aggressive debate and argument that needs to be conclusively “won.” And it all goes back to the base level of being incapable of working with everyone else if everyone doesn’t agree that the brocialist is right about everything.

    • Murc

      If this is implying that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was “able to speak
      to th[e] concerns” of the Black community, I’d love to see any credible
      evidence of that.

      Their overwhelming support for her?

      The only people who get to decide whether Sanders or Clinton were speaking better to the concerns of the black community are… the black community!

      • Rusty SpikeFist

        Francis Bacon would like a word with you.

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum

        • Rob in CT

          We’re discussing electoral politics…

          • Rusty SpikeFist

            I don’t think anybody disputes that Clinton’s primary campaign was better than Sanders’s at a purely demagogic level of using identity politics to eclipse a debate over substantive policy, which was pretty much a sine qua non of victory for her because he would have won such a debate easily.

            The question is, “was that a good thing for her to do”? And I certainly think not, even if she had won the election. Seeing as she didn’t, I don’t see any basis for concluding it was such a brilliant move even at the level of electoral politics.

            • Erik Loomis

              “When African-Americans vote for the candidate I don’t like, they are suckers of demagogues.”

              This is the same argument Republicans use for why African-Americans don’t vote for them. Congratulations on holding the same general position as Rand Paul.

              • Rusty SpikeFist

                I know you’d rather argue with the strawman you built than answer the actual question, “What policy position of Clinton’s relative to Sanders’s, better addressed the concerns of the Black community?” because the former is easy and the latter is hard (IMO impossible, outside the unique example of gun control).

                • Hogan

                  https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/racial-justice/

                  https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/housing/

                  I could go on, but you’ll just tell me she didn’t really mean any of that.

                • Murc

                  “What policy position of Clinton’s relative to Sanders’s, better addressed the concerns of the Black community?”

                  It’s an irrelevant question. What Erik thinks and what you think the black community is supposed to care about doesn’t matter. It actually wouldn’t matter even if you were black, because you’d just be two people.

                  What matters is what the black community en masse decided, and they decided they liked Clinton better. That she spoke to their needs and concerns better. You might not like that decision but it’s a decision that was made.

            • Rob in CT

              Since I am not an AA in the South (nor was I a Clinton voter in the primary), I can’t really say with certainty why Clinton was more popular than Bernie amongst that group (and as Murc points out, even if I was, I wouldn’t get to speak for the group).

              It could simply be that she put in the time & effort to secure support, whereas Bernie was kind of a Johnny come lately, having been a fairly obscure senator from VT until suddenly becoming a contender for the nomination. It might, indeed, have had little to do with policy (though I’m not sure about this at all – Clinton had lots of policy proposals).

              And yet, when discussing what needs to be done in the future to win Southern primaries (and/or general elections), this is relevant. Even if you think it’s icky.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              your whole shtick comes down to, “when a man decides at the last minute to do something, the woman who worked for *years* at the same project should just drop the whole thing and let the guy have it, because men”

              • JMP

                Be fair; there’s also the “black people are too stupid to vote in their own best interests because they didn’t support the same candidate I did when he wasn’t a woman!!”.

            • Brien Jackson

              This reminds me of a Twitter rando who jutted into a conversation about how “leftists” could better appeal to black voters and the merits of “pandering” with some jumbo about how he totally thought black people were mature enough to have a real debate about important issues. It was completely lost on him that you don’t appeal to voters whose support you want by DEBATING WITH THEM.

    • Hogan

      Do tell me more about the concerns of the black community.

      • FlipYrWhig

        “She didn’t address the concerns of the black community, which offends me as a radical. Also, the black community is mostly old and stupid.” :/

        • humanoidpanda

          Also easily misled by outside agitators who use their child-like nature to to mislead them using demagogic identity politics.

        • So, today we happened to have lunch (not at the Old Fogies Home) with a Wellesley professor emerita of philosophy, who expressed her regrets that it has only been since her retirement that she has come to properly understand The Republic, meaning that she really should apologize to generations of her undergraduate students, starting in the 60s. I asked if Hillary had been one of them. She said, no, but she (our hostess) had been one of the faculty who had successfully lobbied their colleagues, at the urging of members of the class of 1969, to have her (Hillary Rodham as was) present a counter-commencement speech to follow the official commencement speech by then-Senator Brooke. Hillary had prepared her speech in advance, but was so incensed by Brooke’s speech that she discarded it and improvised an excellent response on the spot (or so we were told; perhaps this NPR article, which I just found and haven’t looked at, either corroborates our hostess’s account or falsifies it—I really just wanted to take the opportunity to mention the coincidence).

          • FlipYrWhig

            That’s a great speech and it makes me mourn the lost Hillary presidency. I know in the 1990s we used to long for the real liberal Bill Clinton and never got it, but I feel like the real liberal Hillary Rodham has always been just… right… there… not… quite… damn.

    • nominal

      “in any respect beyond that — certainly policy-wise — Clinton came up completely empty, certainly compared to Sanders, and her candidacy proved it won’t matter until a lot of old people die, which, hopefully soon.”

      As we all know, voters look dispassionately and carefully at the various policy proposals of the various candidates and vote for the policies that best fit them. No voter, ever in the history in ever, makes emotional decisions based on connections and feelings. Never happens.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Is our pal Rusty is editing after the fact? I remember something like “hopefully soon” too, but it’s not there now. ETA: Oh, now I see it, weird, it wasn’t there for a while. Nevermind.

      • altofront

        There was some good reporting on this at the time–Bouie had a couple of illuminating pieces (but I’m on my phone so I’m not going to look up links). His basic argument (as I recall) was that Black voters approach white politicians with very limited expectations–Clinton’s long interactions with the Black community suggested that she at least saw them as full citizens, but didn’t mean she would do much for them.

    • AlexSaltzberg

      The overriding concern of the black community is that they are listened to, respected, and treated as important partners politically. They don’t want to be told “We’re working on voter access and criminal justice reform”. They want to be told “Hey, we want your support. Tell us what to do. Join our party. Help write our platform. Be a member of our coalition”.

    • kindasorta

      Sanders, that font of never-ending detail about how to turn America into a Scandinavian worker’s paradise, and his followers, those paragons of understanding how our laws are made or how our government functions. Fuck you.

    • Scopedog
      • Lurking Canadian

        I kinda want to down vote this just because I feel bad for that poor kid whose life-threatening accident got turned into a funny meme

  • Deborah Bender

    “i.e., the idiots who will back Trump even if he personally shoots someone.”

    I had to read this sentence twice to get your meaning, Doctor, because you wrote “id est” = “that is” when you meant “exempli gratia” = “for [the sake of an] example”. Not nitpicking to show off my high school Latin (much), just clarifying.

    • Davis X. Machina

      Bene factum. Censeo,

  • The Realist

    Sanders won black millennials in the primary, IIRC. Age was as much of a factor as race in the primary.

    • y10nerd

      Was this the case in the South? I know the statistics showed that for the whole nation, but I thought I saw others during that time that suggest that it wasn’t the case in the South.

    • nominal

      What is that, like .3% of the Democratic party? If you add the wealthy white male evangelical vote you might hit 1%!

    • FlipYrWhig

      It was interesting to see the turn to Sanders among the “woke.” It seemed to be have a lot to do with the Elizabeth Alexander _New Jim Crow_ argument that held Bill and Hillary Clinton as major contributors to mass incarceration. But my snap judgment was that they were much more “to hell with Hillary” votes than “I like what I’m hearing from Bernie Sanders” votes, because contra Rusty and others I didn’t see Sanders doing much to speak to the concerns of people of color either. All his emphases were elsewhere and so much of his political frame is class-not-race.

      • Erik Loomis

        Michelle Alexander

        • FlipYrWhig

          Whoops, Elizabeth Alexander is the poet, right? Shit. I’ll leave it in penance.

      • kvs

        Yes, Alexander, Coates, and West were among the more notable black voices to support Sanders because of the 90s policies. Though both Alexander and Coates explicitly limited their support to saying they were voting for him in the primary and explaining their reasons rather than making an explicit endorsement of him.

        That seemed like an inherently tactical choice to put Clinton on notice given her frontrunner status.

    • Brien Jackson

      The last breakdown I saw had Sanders winning black voters under 30 by 52-47 which a) was a smaller margin than he LOST every other age demo amongst black voters by and b) was a MUCH smaller margin than he won white voters under 30 by. So yeah, that’s not really good.

  • NewishLawyer

    I still think a big issue with the Democratic Party is that we have too many groups and each group is a strong plurality but not a majority.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      I’m not a math whiz, but I’m pretty sure you can’t have more than one plurality consisting of a single group. You can have multiple pluralities, but only if each plurality consists of multiple groups that can be organized into different pluralities depending on particular criteria.

      • Hogan

        You can if there are overlapping categories (e.g., women and POC).

        • Just_Dropping_By

          Yes, which is why I said “only if each plurality consists of multiple groups that can be organized into different pluralities depending on particular criteria.” NewishLawyer said “each group is a strong plurality.”

  • Sentient AI From The Future

    I agree wholeheartedly with this post. This issue was also presciently addressed by the political theorist Gravediggaz collective. In particular, Dreddy Krueger put it, quite succinctly, in his seminal work on “Graveyard Chamber”:

    “I love black women
    And I hate fuckin’ crackers”

  • Bruce Vail

    I love it when people say that black women are the “base” of the Democratic Party. It’s not true, of course, but I still love it when people say it.

    It would be interesting to do in-depth study of black female voting. Horseback guess is that they are roughly five percent of the vote nationally, and more than 20 percent only in the 30-40 majority-minority congressional districts designed specifically for the black voters.

    • Rob in CT

      I’m really not sure there is any easily defined “base” of the Democratic Party.

      That said, I think it’s fair to say that in Dem primaries in The South, black women are pretty important.

      • wjts

        Sure there is. It’s Bruce Vail. Just ask him.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        where I live, the base is middle aged women. They don’t just come to the meetings, they make the phone calls, do the walking door to door, hand over the money. I kinda doubt their concerns are all that different from african american women in the south- or, at least, they’re closer to each other than either is to Rusty or Bruce

      • Bruce Vail

        The base is a coalition, and black women are an important part of the coalition. No argument there.

        And yes, I am part of that coalition too. I registered as a Democrat a week after I turned 18 and have voted regularly in Democratic primaries and overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates in the general ever since. I described myself as Loyal Democrat for years (I don’t anymore).

        • wjts

          The base is a coalition, and black women are an important part of the coalition. No argument there.

          And yes, I am part of that coalition too…. I described myself as Loyal Democrat for years (I don’t anymore).

          Jesus Hebdomadaire Christ sur une bicyclette avec deux pigeons dansant.

          • JMP

            This is from someone who just admitted to voting Green for Senate in 2016, so actually part of the base for the “It’s all about my feelings!” party, not the Democratic Party at all.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      Well, I’d say the statement is true — black women vote almost exclusively Democratic and have for decades — but it’s a base that is grossly insufficient to win elections in most places. “Base” in this context doesn’t mean “large enough to win,” it just means “very reliable.”

      • Dwayne J. Stephenson

        Yeah, but they also have to compose a substantial chunk of the party or all these other arguments fall apart. If you can win without their votes, they can’t be the base.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          That doesn’t make sense — by that standard third parties in the US don’t have “bases” at all because all third party candidates could theoretically win without getting a single vote from a member of their own party because the parties are so small.

          • Dwayne J. Stephenson

            Do they have bases though? I mean, look: it’s a pretty vague concept. But for it to be useful at all the definition has to have some minimal constraints.

            • FlipYrWhig

              Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard anyone talk about “the base” of a third party. There aren’t enough segments to make it worth determining who’s the crucial one.

        • kvs

          If Democrats could win national without black women voters they’d be Republicans.

          You’re conflating who the base is–the party’s most reliable voters–eith the question of who the base ought to be.

    • nominal

      Viewed that way, there is no “base” for any party. The white male evangelical vote is only like 12% of the electorate.

  • Chet Murthy

    QFT: “In the end, the true Democratic Party base is black women.”

  • Murc

    This is a good run-down of why Bernie was slaughtered in the Southern primaries and what this means for the future.

    I’m really not sure about that, Erik.

    There’s good stuff in there, but that article makes the same two enormous mistakes that it seems just about everyone writing about this issue makes.

    The first is constantly conflating “what it takes to win democratic primaries in southern states” with “what it takes to win in the South.” Those are two massively different things with massively different requirements and strategies undergirding them. They always need to be cleanly separated, you always need to be hesitant about drawing lessons learned from the primary to general elections, and you need to make it very clearly when you’re talking about which.

    The second is conflating “the black community liked Clinton better than Sanders” with “the black community disliked Sanders.” Those aren’t the same thing! The black community rejected Clinton in 2008, and it wasn’t because they disliked her, it was because they liked Barack Obama more. This is always something to be aware of in any intra-party power struggle.

    My knowledge of the relevant polling is that Sanders is liked just fine by the black community, and very especially by young black people. It’s just that Clinton had spent literally her entire political career building bridges with that demographic. That makes Clinton very smart! It doesn’t make Sanders ideology a turn-off for black folks, tho.

    It seems to me that a path to victory in any democratic southern primary might be to combine Sanders-style ideology and fiery economic populism and rhetoric with someone who also knows how to talk the talk when it comes to the black community. From a naked political standpoint, that seems like a big win.

    Moreover, if Progressives want to win in the South more broadly, they
    have to put race front and center in their analysis, organize on the
    local level to elect candidates, and simply ignore or isolate the
    reality that this might upset white voters who weren’t going to back
    your ideas anyway

    … can you unpack this, Erik?

    It seems like currently, there isn’t a way for progressives to win in the south, and especially not by running all anti-racism all the time. The most successful southern Democratic politicians at the statewide level are people like Jon Bel Edwards, who manage to get in after Republicans shit the bed and people are ready for a change, but who don’t discomfit enough whites to cost them the election. These guys are okay Democrats but they’re far from progressive.

    That’s pretty shitty, but I’m legitimately unsure how “a guy who talks about racism all the time, really puts it front and center,” is going to win a statewide race in, say, Georgia.

    • Rob in CT

      This seems right.

      It seems plausible that the way to win a primary and then a general in the South is to do the grunt work of talking to the black community but somehow manage to not get pegged as “for the blacks” so you don’t get crushed in the general. And even then, it looks like an uphill battle.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      The first is constantly conflating “what it takes to win democratic primaries in southern states” with “what it takes to win in the South.” Those are two massively different things with massively different requirements and strategies undergirding them.

      Are you saying that in 2008 Barack Obama didn’t win Idaho in the general election by a margin of 60%+?

    • nominal

      Why do you think the South is unwinnable? Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida are all within 5% or so. Those are certainly winnable. Virginia and Maryland went Dem last election (although we can say Maryland isn’t in the South if we want to, I guess.) We could be one good gerrymandering decision from winning 4 of the thirteen Confederate states. Demographics might even put Texas back into play.

      Is there some reason to be pessimistic instead of optimistic here?

      • FlipYrWhig

        I thought the idea was unwinnable _by liberals_ as opposed to unwinnable _by Democrats_. IOW, winnable by non-liberal Democrats, sure.

      • Murc

        Why do you think the South is unwinnable?

        In presidential elections in the three states you name, if the conditions are right? I don’t, although I think Georgia is a very heavy lift.

        What I think specifically is that I think southern states, as in, statewide offices and also the presidential vote, are unwinnable for a self-identified progressive who puts racism at the front and center of their campaign. Erik apparently thinks the opposite. That’s fair enough, I think, Erik is right more often than I am, but I’d like him to explain his reasoning.

        It could just be sloppy writing; Erik says a progressive candidate needs to put racism front and center in their analysis, which is certainly true, but he follows that up with “simply ignore or isolate the reality that this might upset white voters who weren’t going to back your ideas anyway” which implies that racism should be front and center in the political messaging as well.

        This post has been edited after posting for clarification of my position.

        • nominal

          That’s annoyingly reasonable and irony-free. Am I at the right website?

          I think the argument is that energizing what should be your base is going to bring in more votes than you lose. The question is whether there’s any substantial number of swing voters, or any substantial voter turnout increase, because of hating on brown people. It’s possible those guys are already voting, so you’re only turning off your own base by not pushing the issue.

          • Hogan

            That’s annoyingly reasonable and irony-free. Am I at the right website?

            That’s our Murc.

    • King Goat

      Exactly. The n of black voters is < whites who will reflexively vote against any party seen as too much 'for the blacks' in a lot of Southern states.

    • Brien Jackson

      Erik can correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought when he talked about “winning the South” he was specifically talking about leftier candidates in intra-Democratic contests. Which is certainly relevant, since it’s basically impossible to win the Democratic primary with Sanders level support from African American voters.

  • Are we discussing Progressives winning the South in the Dem primary, or the general? Because the latter is not going to happen for a good while.

    Edit: It looks like Murc basically said what I was thinking better.

    • Aaron Morrow

      That article is specifically talking about winning *IN* the South, not winning the entire thing.

  • AlexSaltzberg

    I suspect the best way to “win in the Southern state primaries” is to try to win them and not dismiss them after polling comes out showing you’d probably lose anyways.

    But of course, that depends on if your campaign strategy is to win the primary or just raise the profile of a few pet issues .

  • dogboy

    I haven’t seen much discussion about Cooperation Jackson http://www.cooperationjackson.org/ and their plan to
    “.. increase employment opportunities by making Jackson a 0% emission and 0% waste city, build union membership, push for participatory budgeting processes, train workers to be organizers/activist, and push for collective bargaining.”

    Seems like they would challenge Bernie’s socialist street cred.

  • nomoremister

    Unfortunately, parts of the white college-educated left think they are the base because they are…

    … self-congratulatory narcissists.

  • efcdons

    Here in GA the Democratic strategy was “40-90”. 90% of the Black vote and 40% of the white vote. Ed Kilgore points out that strategy might not be necessary moving forward as GA becomes closer to majority/minority (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/after-ossoff-defeat-georgia-democrats-looking-for-answers.html).

    But the new demographics aren’t Black “vs.” white. There will have to be lots of Hispanic and Asian voters in the Democratic coalition. Getting even more granular, there will be big class differences within the groups. Like, a Laotian refugee family in Clarkston compared to an American born software engineer from a Gujarati family who lives in Alpharetta.

    So it’s not will “putting race front and center” upset white voters. The question is “putting race front and center” going to win non-Black minority voters? A big enough portion to overcome a more racially polarized electorate where the share of white Democratic voters decreases even further. What kind of campaign can speak to African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian voters who may have not much in common other than being not white in the south?

    I saw khalid kamu (mentioned in The Nation article. He was recently elected to a seat on the new South Fulton city council) speak about his campaign at a recent Atlanta DSA meeting. He is a perfect example of organizing at the local level. He mentioned that his “push” into politics and eventually electoral politics came from the BLM movement. But his campaign for city council was broader than that one issue or set of issues.

    As someone mentioned elsewhere here, Sanders’ performance among African American voters was quite dependent on the voter’s age (as it was among voters of all racial and ethnic groups). kamu is a young guy who ran with the direct support of the DSA and Our Revolution. It’s possible the kind of strategy represented by the “get the good with the preacher” method of building support is going to be less important in the future.

  • Shirley0401

    I think the primary voting schedule isn’t taken into enough account in these postmortems. The narrative being pushed by most of the media outlets at the time of the SC primary, especially the network/local news channels and newspapers older people still reply upon, was that Sanders was a protest candidate, HRC was a shoo-in, and the only question was how long he’d stay in the race before inevitably conceding.

    I phonebanked for Sanders, and can’t tell you how many lovely older people, of many races, I talked to who said some version of “Oh, I like Bernie just fine, but I’m sticking with Clinton.” There were HRC diehards, too, but I’d venture to say most of the voters over 40 I talked to would fall into this group. We had a lot of calls to make, and were told to politely move on when we got a hard no, but I’d usually throw out a simple “can you tell me more about your decision,” or “I’d be interested to hear what about Clinton you’d prefer.”

    It usually came down to something along the lines of “she’s going to win it all anyway” or “we need to settle this as soon as possible and focus on winning in November.” Occasionally, I did get “he’ll never win in the general,” but far less frequently than the foregone conclusion reasoning. (Off-topic, it’s worth mentioning that single payer stood out as the platform plank to which people of all ages/races would most often respond most positively.)

    I strongly suspect if the southern primaries had been held later in the game, the numbers would’ve changed. Not saying HRC wouldn’t still have won SC, but I’d be willing to bet the house (conveniently, since there’s no way to know) that she wouldn’t have won by anything close to 50%. I’m not a political expert by any stretch of the imagination, but it was clear to me a lot of the African American people I talked to liked a lot of what Sanders was saying, but were doing what they thought would give the Dem who was going to win anyway the best chance to win.

    • Rob in CT

      Hmm, that seems reasonable. I didn’t think about the timing issue.
      Funny, I saw Sanders campaign as a “highlight my issues” campaign that had close to zero chance of winning, and indeed by the time of my state’s primary this was clearly true. And I voted for him anyway, with the idea that it might show Hillary that it might be safe to slide left a bit. I think it’s interesting that other voters who thought she’d obviously win saw that as a reason to vote for her. Maybe they were more right than I. Or maybe none of it mattered.

    • xq

      Yeah. I don’t want it, but it would be interesting to see how Sanders would do if he ran in 2020. In some ways, if Biden doesn’t run, he’d be the frontrunner, arguably even “establishment”, candidate–2nd place in the last primary, highest name recognition, on TV attacking Trump all the time and saying things Democrats tend to like, against a mostly unknown field. I suspect he’d do relatively well with a lot of groups who aren’t as attracted to the outsider message but otherwise agree with what he says.

      • Brien Jackson

        Sanders might be the “frontrunner” in the sense of being the guy in the lead before the race even starts, but there’s virtually no chance he’ll win the election. A) He’s still not making alliances with leading prog groups, and hasn’t learned his lesson about
        coalition building. B) He doesn’t have the temperament to absorb the REAL attacks he’d get the next time around when he won’t be dealing with a campaign that doesn’t need to hit him. He blew up and called Clinton unqualified after some minor shade over an embarrassing newspaper interview, how do you think he’d handle being on the end of a STRONG attack from Gillibrand, Harris, Booker, etc? C) Speaking of that interview, as I saw someone write on Twitter earlier, the playbook for cutting Bernie down will just be to go after him on specifics. Bernie’s attacking everyone and launching into a harangue about big banks, single payer healthcare, etc? “I agree Senator Sanders, but I’d like to know more about what exactly you plan to do and how you’re going to make that happen.” Sanders won’t be able to answer it because he’s a narcissistic demagogue who isn’t going to learn policy details between now and then, and after a couple of rounds of that routine the air will be out of him entirely and he’s back to being a blowhard mediocre old white guy with an overinflated sense of self-worth.

        • efcdons

          So the strategy would be to take out Sanders by creating negative campaign ads for the gop against those issues? The “even the liberal Booker/Gillibrand/Harris… ” ads write themselves for the general election election. As well as any future attempts by other politicians you don’t hate to pass legislation around those issues.

          • Brien Jackson

            Well no, Bernie being an idiot who doesn’t know anything about his own proposals doesn’t mean that the rest of the contenders won’t have real plans that they can discuss in some detail extemporaneously.

            • efcdons

              Above you say the substance of the details don’t matter. But here you’re saying they’ll attack Sanders by highlighting substantive details that differentiate their plans designed to tackle the same issues with a basically similar approach.

              So are the difference they will highlight the kinds of foundational differences like between Clinton’s original higher ed proposal and Sanders’ higher ed proposal? Or smaller operational differences (one might call them details) like the cut off for free college starting at 125k vs. 150k?

              Last time around the “free stuff attacks didn’t help Clinton they much. What was successful were the “substantive details ” attacks amplified by the media and intellectual gate keepers.

              That might work (even though this discussion is pointless because Sanders isn’t going to run for President again) but it doesn’t square with your claim the substance of the details won’t matter.

              Clinton surrogates worked by focusing on what they claimed were insufficient or even badly designed details which strengthened Clinton’s electability argument.

              But Trump being elected kind of weakens the claim that a candidate can’t win without a meticulously designed plan for every policy position because otherwise you’re not Serious enough.

              • Brien Jackson

                No, I’m saying they’ll expose and exploit the fact that Sanders will have NO details at all and, as he showed in the Daily News interview, that he’ll look like someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he’s pressed into actually discussing policy.

                • efcdons

                  I was thinking of the Daily News example too. Clinton and her people attacking Sanders on the details of his plan for breaking up banks made it seem to some like it wasn’t a “I want the same but here is my better, more detailed plan to do it” argument. Rather, it was seen as attacking the underlying philosophy of being tougher on financial institutions that are too big and have too much power. Ideological gatekeepers like Paul Krugman had to get out there and say how Clinton’s more complex proposal was actually better and TOUGHER than Sanders’ unserious outline of a plan.

                  But the gop still successfully painted Clinton as “soft” on banks. When Manfort told reporters the gop would call for a new Glass-Steagall act in their platform it was part of an attempt to highlight how Clinton had been,and still was, too favorable toward big banks. As shown in part by how she attacked Sanders’ plan to break up big banks.

                  So attacking someone for the lack of details for their plans carries some risk. Maybe the risk is different for different people and different issues. Clinton was uniquely vulnerable to being attacked about her links to high finance so she should have used another issue to highlight Sanders’ lack of detail in his policy proposals. Someone like Kirsten Gillibrand might be able to “exploit” the idea that Sanders’ bank regulation plan lacks details, which she would be happy to provide, without having her attack seem like she is attacking the underlying concept of tough banking regulations.

                  Though really, from your hyperbole (NO details? Come on) and the spittle that’s flying from your mouth so hard I can feel it coming through my monitor, I don’t think you’re the best person to devise good ways for a competitor of Sanders to mount a successful attack. Your rage might be preventing you from being able to ascertain what is objectively a strong way to attack Sanders, since all of them are going to work on you.

                • Brien Jackson

                  This is nonsense. Sanders didn’t merely fail to offer minute banking policy detail, he couldn’t even answer a very generalized question about what he broadly wanted the banking industry to look like post-reform. He literally had NOTHING intelligent to say when pressed to say something more than “too big to fail,” even in very broad terms. And before that his campaign proposed a single payer plan that would achieve >100% savings on prescrition drug costs. If you think that the other campaigns wouldn’t savage him over that if he was the national polling leader then I think they should do it so we can find out!

                • efcdons

                  That’s just not true .

                  A number of commentators explained how the level of detail he used was appropriate for answering the question considering how the reforms would operate.

                  For example, Mike Konczal said in regards to Sanders’ answer about how to break up banks and what they’d look like post reform:

                  “This is both a good and correct answer. This may not be intuitive to people who haven’t thought it through, but it’s not necessary, or even desirable, for regulators to specifically describe how to break up the banks. Instead, tell them where they have to end up in terms of size—say no larger than $500 billion—and let them figure out the best way to get there.”

                  http://rooseveltinstitute.org/sanders-ending-tbtf/#.VwSWvlHytvk.twitter

                  But maybe you’re hanging your hat on the “intelligent” part of “nothing intelligent to say”.

                  I don’t remember the >100% savings on drug costs. It isn’t in the plan still on his campaign’s website. I wish I could say I believe you are telling the truth without exaggeration for political or even comedic effect. But so far you haven’t given me much to let me think you can make any statement related to Sanders without it being colored by the strong “feelings” you seem to have about things Bernie related.

                • Brien Jackson

                  Oh that Bernie, so much smarter than us to recognize that embarrassing yourself and creating the appearance you had no idea what you were talking about was such a smart strategy. No wonder he roared back to secure the nomination after that!

                • efcdons

                  No, Clinton and her team did a great job defining Sanders. They were able to create the impression Sanders’
                  policies were either politically impossible (which is the way to attack
                  policies you know are popular so you can’t straight up come out against it as a policy) or were “crazy” because the policy was a too big a break from current practices. After years of rhetorical beat downs Democratic primary voters are worried about the party pursuing any policy which might allow the right or the mainstream “shape of the earth, opinions differ” media types to claim the party is being “reckless” with the economy or are doing something which will somehow force businesses to go on a capital strike.

                  Clinton ran the far superior campaign in the primary. She had been preparing for years, she laid the ground work by making all the necessary relationships, and hit all the right notes when defining herself as well as defining Sanders.

                  Pity the same can’t be said for the general election.

                • Brien Jackson

                  I do think it’s funny, though, that you’re investing all of this time arguing that it actually won’t matter and won’t be an impediment to winning, rather than assuring us that Bernie will spend a lot of time between now and then boning up on policy so that he’s actually conversant on it in 2019-20. I just can’t figure out why you guys never win anything!

                • efcdons

                  Since you are arguing he ran on NO details last time, which is such a massive rewriting of events we all witnessed not that long ago it makes me wonder about your attachment to reality, I guessed it would be more fruitful to argue as if the world was as you see it. Because if I could convince you the “details” attack isn’t going to work then whether he tries to include more detail in his policy proposals during the primary wouldn’t matter.

                  For some reason I doesn’t seem like “since he was attacked from all sides for what people said was a lack of detail in his policy proposals he’ll probably try to make it harder for people to make those attacks stick by increasing the amount of detail he releases while on the campaign trail.”

                  But how could anyone convince you that “a narcissistic demagogue who isn’t going to learn policy details between now and then” will actually learn policy details between now and then?

                • Brien Jackson

                  Whatever dude, we’ll see how it goes.

                • efcdons

                  Yes we will, dude.

        • xq

          That’s why it’d be interesting–it would be test of all these claims. I don’t believe that “alliances with leading prog groups” matters very much. Voters make up their own minds. Nor do I don’t think the party is divided enough to reward a negative campaign against a popular politician. Policy details? Elections are not won on policy details.

          • Brien Jackson

            Democratic primaries certainly do turn on having at least a base handle on policy. It’s not so much that the substance of the details will matter, it’s that Sanders will get exposed as someone who just literally doesn’t know much about policy and will look like a babbling moron when put into situations where he has to discuss it beyond his stump speech (and in 2020 especially, the easy comparisons to Trump will write themselves). As for alliances with organizations, they certainly do matter, a) specifically because voters decide based on heuristic factors like what advocacy groups they support and respect say publicly and b) because Sanders’ personality type leads him to not only not HELP those groups, but to be casually dismissive of them as well. It doesn’t take too long to find Sanders critics who are still PISSED at him for the shot he took at Planned Parenthood when they endorsed Clinton, for example.

            Tl;dr Bernie Sanders is a terrible politician whose current position is artificially buoyed by having running a quasi-campaign against a frontrunner who never had to actually hit him.

            • xq

              It doesn’t take too long to find Sanders critics who are still PISSED at him for the shot he took at Planned Parenthood when they endorsed Clinton, for example.

              Easy to find them on Twitter, yeah. OTOH, actual polls indicate he has very high popularity among Democrats. Also, he did quite well in 2016 starting as an unknown against a very strong candidate.

              I think you’re elevating stuff internet people care about above what Democratic primary voters care about.

              • Brien Jackson

                Right, he has high popularity *after running a campaign where he never really got attacked.* I mean, the Clinton campaign’s response to Sanders’ Planned Parenthood statement was “Planned Parenthood is not establishment.” If he did that in 2020 he’d have four or five other campaigns tripping over themselves to slam him for saying he was “fighting against” Planned Parenthood and it’d dominate media coverage of the campaign for a week.

                • xq

                  I think there are two claims we have a lot of evidence for from past primaries. First, Sanders has proven ability to attract a number of constituencies in the Democratic primary. Second, being a well known, prominent politician well-liked in the party and seeming like a viable contender is beneficial. In 2016, Sanders had only one of these advantages; in 2016 he would have both. This would make him a formidable candidate. Against this we have some speculative claims about his weaknesses. Perhaps his Planned Parenthood remarks would have hurt him more if Clinton attacked him harder on them. OK, but we don’t know that, because she didn’t.

                  I’m not saying Sanders would definitely win. I have no particular confidence that he would. Primaries are chaotic and difficult to predict; 2016 should have taught us that. But I do think he would have some of the frontrunner advantages Clinton did in 2008 and 2016 and that would give him a head start among voters not specifically attracted to the outsider position.

                • Brien Jackson

                  1. Sanders doesn’t have any such proven track record. As noted before, Clinton’s vote total ended up being about identical to the number she was polling at in summer 2015. More than anything what Sanders did was consolidate the not-Clinton voters in a two way race.

                  2. Being the frontrunner at the outset also make you the candidate that all of the other campaigns are focused on bringing back to the pack, which means you’re taking nearly all of the attacks from the outset.

                  3. If your theory is that Sanders won’t pay any price if he attacks Planned Parenthood or angrily declares Gillibrand or Harris to be “unqualified” because they say something mean about him….you’re right. Bernie should totally deploy that strategy in 2020. I can’t imagine a scarier strategy for those of us who can’t stand the wanker.

                • xq

                  I think the idea that Sanders was just a generic not-Clinton candidate who has no specific appeal is pretty weak. For one, he doesn’t seem like a generic candidate. Second, Sanders campaigned as an outsider, anti-establishment candidate and polling indicates that the establishment-outsider axis was the strongest ideological separation between Clinton and Sanders voters; also, demographics lined up as expected if that was indeed the main separation. Really hard to believe that’s just a coincidence. Third, there are a number of indications Sanders voters were specifically enthused about Sanders; e.g. he did particularly well in caucuses, which is something of an enthusiasm measure. Fourth, primary voters in summer 2015 who didn’t support Clinton were not all “never Clintons”, they were undecided. No one at the time thought it was inevitable that Sanders would get all of them, and many were surprised that he exceeded expectations. Fifth, we did have another primary involving Clinton, and the not-Clinton vote was not stable between those elections, even if you account for things like Obama doing better among black voters. It was noted at the time how well Obama did among young voters, for example, but Sanders did even better in that demographic. Sixth, Sanders’ success among particular demographics persisted past the election–he still polls especially well among young voters.

                • Brien Jackson

                  For fuck’s sake this gets tiring.

                  “Second, Sanders campaigned as an outsider, anti-establishment candidate and polling indicates that the establishment-outsider axis was the strongest ideological separation between Clinton and Sanders voters; also, demographics lined up as expected if that was indeed the main separation. Really hard to believe that’s just a coincidence. ”

                  No, it’s not, and people who haven’t gone the first fucking bit of research on how voters think and form opinions bleating on the same shit over and over is really fucking annoying. Most voters decide which candidate they like best first, usually for abstract reasons, and then they form reasons that can be articulated after that, which is why the reasons they give usually match up with either the candidate’s pitch or the larger media narrative about the race. Because they’re calling on the factors/issues they’ve heard about and then squeeze themselves into that box.

                  But whatever, I certainly hope that a hypothetical Sanders campaign ignores me, agrees with you, and believes that that Clinton’s polling numbers in summer 2015 basically being spot on means nothing and that all of those people who voted for him were 100% in love with him and he won’t need to change anything at all.

              • Brien Jackson

                Oh, and let’s not forget that no one is going let Sanders get away with not releasing his tax returns for more than about 6 minutes, and he’ll very possibly have his wife’s scandal looming over him.

          • Hogan

            Voters make up their own minds.

            I certainly do, and one of the things I look at is endorsements from labor unions, NAACP, women’s groups, etc.

        • Uncle_Ebeneezer

          I follow Kamala Harris (she is my Sen, after all) and she has been doing alot of engagement on police/bail reform, protecting Immigrants/DACA, LGBTQ, Reproductive Rights, Voting Rights etc., in addition to the more mainstream issues like Russia/Healthcare. She’s focussing on the needs of minority/marginalized voters pretty regularly. If she runs in 2020 I think she’s going to have some excellent relations and a good track record. Especially given the Trumpocalypse, this seems like a pretty good strategy for positioning herself to win Dem voters. I try to avoid Bernie, so I can’t say what he’s doing in those areas but my guess is: not much.

    • stepped pyramids

      This reminds me of something I read about 2008. Obama actually didn’t have a lot of support from black community leaders when he first declared. Most of them were aligned with Clinton, since they had a long-standing relationship. Obama had to dedicate time and effort to appeal to the black community in particular and also had to demonstrate he had the ability to compete before they switched over to supporting him.

    • Brien Jackson

      WTF are you talking about? When South Carolina came around the political media and ESPECIALLY MSNBC and cable news more generally were fucking drooling over Sanders after Iowa and New Hampshire, and damn near digging Clinton’s political grave.

      • efcdons

        Digging her grave with epitaphs like:

        According to polls, the race is all but a foregone conclusion: Clinton has maintained a dominating lead throughout the state campaign, and despite gains, Sanders could end up losing by a margin even more lopsided than his 22-point victory in New Hampshire

        http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/south-carolina-democratic-primary/story?id=37238329

        And:

        Black voters, women power Clinton to big lead

        http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/16/politics/south-carolina-poll-cnn-orc/index.html

        Clinton didn’t have a chance with all those articles about how she was set to win big and how she was dominating Sanders in the polls.

        • Brian J.

          Sanders didn’t lose South Carolina by 22, but by 48 (74 percent to 26 percent). That’s a truly grotesque polling miss, and one that led people to overrate Bernie’s chances (ie, greater than zero).

          • efcdons

            How is Sanders’ chance of victory in SC being overrated?

            “despite gains, Sanders could end up losing by a margin even more lopsided than his 22-point victory in New Hampshire”

            Not only could Clinton’s margin of victory in SC be greater than Sanders’ 22 point win in NH, it was greater than 22 points. I’m not seeing where the excerpt overstates Sanders’ chances. In fact, it seems to be conveying that this loss in SC will really show everyone what a truly lopsided loss in the Democratic party primary looks like.

            • Brian J.

              His chance of winning the nomination (which I should have specified was what I meant) was slim but nonzero if he could consistently get 35-40 percent of the Southern or black vote. With the 25 percent of Southerners and the 20 percent of the black vote he actually got? No chance.

    • Sly

      If anything, the primary schedule helped Sanders more than hurt him, starting with two states he had a good shot at winning and then use to build a base of support going into subsequent contests. It just… wasn’t enough.

    • postpartisandepression

      I am one of those people who would have told you that I like Bernie just fine but my reasons for sticking with Clinton are much stronger than you seem to think. 1) I believe she could have actually gotten all those things done that Bernie just talked about and 2) it is about fricking time that a woman became president and more importantly that women get represented in congress and all elected position at the level they are part of the population. Sadly bernie bros ( and gals) still seem to think that he should have won the primary and if that kept them home or had them voting third party then they are just as much to blame for the disaster of this election as the true tRump supporters and do not deserve any more of my time.

  • Brian J.

    Break Sanders’ neck and you could get started. As it is, the legacy of his racist supporters will hang around the left for many years to come.

  • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

    Teabaggers = Southern racism
    “Progressives” = Northern racism

    This has been clear to me since 2009.

  • EliHawk

    As a Georgia native, this is wrong on both the primary and the general election front. The thing about Sanders in the Southern primaries isn’t just that he lost the black vote overwhelmingly: He also lost the white vote overwhelmingly. Georgia has 159 counties, Sanders won 1. Barely. With the fewest Democratic voters in the state. The black vote is dominant in Georgia primaries, but has been willing to vote for non-black candidates. (For example, Roy Barnes beat Georgia’s first black Attorney General Thurburt Baker in the gubernatorial primary 7 years ago, winning solidly black counties. Why? He’d been delivering for the community for years, including taking down the confederate flag.)

    You may get a narrow win if, somehow, the left candidate can win black voters (though it should be noted that black voters also backed the ‘centrist’ establishment candidate in ’04, ’00, ’92, and so on, pretty much every time Jesse wasn’t running). But it’s not particularly likely. There just isn’t a real constituency for it down here.

    As to the general election, centering race seems unlikely to be the tonic that gets you to the 50% + 1 you need to avoid a runoff here. (For a Presidential race, that’s not a requirement, but I assume we also want to do things like elect governors and senators).

    A winning Georgia Democratic coalition needs to weave together big city blacks, rural blacks, urban and suburban whites as well as various other smaller ethnic minority groups centered around Atlanta. I did the math a while ago, breaking down the vote by splitting the state into what the counties the census describes as constituting Metro Atlanta and the rest of the state. Clinton did better in the Atlanta Metro than any Democrat running for President since ’92. Given how hopeless Dukakis/Mondale were, and that Carter ’80 lost Atlanta’s suburban counties, she may have done better than any Democrat since Jimmy carried his favorite son status to winning every county in the state. The flip side is she did as bad as John Kerry everywhere else. If you want to leverage dissatisfaction with Trump in Cobb and Gwinnett, you can’t get absolutely slaughtered everywhere else. The non-Atlanta metro part of the state still provides about 40% of the state’s vote in a Presidential year. While that’s not just rural whites, and includes the mid-size cities like Savannah/Columbus/Macon/Augusta, it’s still a very different terrain than Atlanta and its suburbs.

    Here’s where it’s tricky though. You can’t forget that a lot of the rural Democratic vote right now isn’t white, it’s blacks in the old black belt: Sanford Bishop country, but also the bunch in East Georgia from Hancock to Augusta that used to help elect John Barrow. And one reason that Clinton did Kerry numbers in the out state was a drop in turnout from those counties without Obama on the ballot. Hancock went from 3,301 Democratic votes in 2012 to 2,701 in 2016. A Democrat that wants to successfully win Georgia is gonna have to essentially pull an inside straight:

    1) Cut margins with rural whites through persuasion (and/or Trump discouragement) enough that you aren’t swamped in the out of state.
    2) Get out black turnout in poor, hard to organize rural areas to help you cut down those margins.
    3) Persuade suburban moderates of the Price-Isakson-Clinton-Ossoff persuasion in the Atlanta Metro to back you.
    4) Get a big turnout from the more solidly Democratic, base areas of Fulton-Dekalb-Clayton-Rockdale.

    Can, say, Trump being unpopular help with all of that? Yes. But it’s a coalition that, while emergent (Atlanta’s metro keeps getting bigger, keeps getting more diverse, and keeps getting more Dem) still requires everything to go right to win. It’s like, say, Democrats in Virginia in 2001: The signs for where the future coalition was were there, but they still needed a talented politician in Mark Warner and an unpopular incumbent GOP Governor in Jim Gilmore in order to push over the line. But the idea that a hard left candidate weaves together that coalition is nowhere in evidence. The rural whites don’t like it, the suburban whites don’t like it, and it doesn’t speak to urban or rural blacks either.

  • If the Dems actually offered Blacks something more than decades of lip service (or less, what with Slick Willy’s support for and empowering of racists with his “end of welfare” and support for the incarceration state), maaayyybe a significant number of Black people could be inspired to vote.
    After awhile, empty talk followed by disappointment takes a toll. Taking a bloc for granted maybe isn’t so great.

    • BM, President of Fuckery

      We were inspires to vote for Obama just recently.

  • Mojrim ibn Harb

    It’s also possible that he really saw it as a states issue. Recall that DOMA fell at SCOTUS specifically because it was federal overreach into the police powers of the state.

    • David

      Except after 2009 he decided he was for Federal recognition of gay marriage and not just “state’s rights” so the claim he’s “always” been for it is false. Or he would have made that point about DOMA at the time at least in addition to his other concerns. Instead, it was never mentioned or was buried quickly.

      Basically, don’t tell me you’ve always loved me when two months ago you said we should just be friends. Then your fling falls apart and oh wait, lemme call you up. I call BS on that.

      • Mojrim ibn Harb

        That’s exactly the point he made about DOMA at the time – that the united states was required to recognize marriages recorded by the individual states, because separation of powers. It was prima facie unconstitutional for congress to subvert the reserved powers of the states.

        • David

          So what exactly happened with Loving vs Virginia? Was that not the SCOTUS subverting the will of the States regarding marriage?

          • Mojrim ibn Harb

            You are conflating unlike objects. To say that a power is withheld from congress to the states does not exempt it from constitutional scrutiny. That is, while the constitution (interpreted by SCOTUS) can require the states to permit same sex marriage (as equal protection vis 14A) is does not necessarily empower congress to grant it. Marriage, as Sanders correctly understood it vis a vis DOMA, is a power of the states so long as they comply with the USCON’s minimum requirements.

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