Despite Decisive Losses, Sanders Expected to Keep Running

March 11, 2020 Updated: March 11, 2020
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News Analysis

Weak recent showings in key states mean self-described democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders’s quest for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination is doomed, political observers told The Epoch Times, even though the candidate himself has vowed to remain in the race.

In a televised event March 11 after a near-wipeout the night before, the one-time frontrunner said his campaign “continues to win the vast majority of younger people.”

“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability,” he said, an apparent reference to the electoral success of his opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. “This is what millions of Democrats and independents today believe.”

A fundraising email sent out by his campaign on March 11 claimed that “a strong majority of the American people support our progressive agenda” and are “deeply concerned about the grotesque levels of income and wealth inequality in this country.” People “understand that we need to transform our broken and racist criminal justice and immigration system.”

Sanders won’t quit because he is a cause-oriented politician devoted to a political ideology, according to political professionals.

“I think he has to stay in, no matter how much the DNC threatens him to quit,” said Art Harman, a former legislative director for a Republican congressman from Texas. “His supporters would howl if he abandoned the race.

“Bernie runs more than a campaign, it’s a crusade. He won’t let down his people, but go to the convention and fight for platform issues, rules, and concessions so he can claim victories and relevance—and get all the media coverage he wouldn’t get as a withdrawn candidate.”

Scared Moderates

Given Sanders’s reversal of fortunes, many commentators are now referring to Biden as the party’s “presumptive nominee” against President Donald Trump, a Republican elected in 2016.

The consensus among pundits seems to be that after Sanders’s disastrous electoral showings of the last two weeks, his campaign is ready for the dustbin of history. Although Sanders, a master of raising money from small donors, has plenty of cash at hand, it has become near-impossible for him to recover from the recent electoral routs, they say.

The independent senator from Vermont’s quixotic run seems to have begun disintegrating after his strong showings in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada threw massive attention on his hard-left socialist policies and his steadfast insistence on defending authoritarian systems in countries like communist Cuba. Sanders even took his wife on their honeymoon to the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, a fact that has been repeated in the media frequently.

In other words, Sanders scared away moderate voters, sources say.

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has since quit the race, blasted the so-called democratic socialism that Sanders supports in a Feb. 19 televised debate, likening it to “communism,” which he said “just didn’t work.”

The same month, high-profile Democratic campaign consultant James Carville called Sanders a “communist” and predicted the “end of days” if Democrats made Sanders their standard-bearer, comparing him to Jeremy Corbyn, the radical leader of the British Labour Party whose party suffered a humiliating defeat at the polls on Dec. 12, 2019.

At the time of writing, The Associated Press tally gave Joe Biden 860 delegates compared to Sanders’s 710 and Tulsi Gabbard’s two. Candidates who dropped out of the race, largely under pressure from the DNC, garnered 164 delegates in total. To win the nomination, 1,991 are required.

Motivated the Young

Sanders came on strong at the beginning of the election cycle in Iowa and New Hampshire. “Peak Bernie,” as some called it, occurred Feb. 22 when Sanders grabbed 24 delegates in Nevada compared to Biden’s nine.

Biden had bragged South Carolina was his “firewall” that would keep him in the race. On Feb. 29, he won 39 delegates there, compared to 15 for Sanders. On “Super Tuesday” March 3, Biden swept 14 states, compared to Sanders’s four. March 10 results rubbed salt in Sanders’s wounds, as Biden took 4 out of 6 states, compared to one for Sanders. The race in Washington state was unresolved at time of writing.

Plenty of delegate-rich states haven’t voted yet, but it’s too difficult for Sanders to come back from devastating losses, sources told The Epoch Times.

Joel Griffith, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said Sanders’s adherence to socialism was his undoing.

“Most voters will not accept someone who embraces ideas demonstrably proven to suppress prosperity and opportunity. Throughout his long career, Bernie Sanders has called for upending our entire economic system—one based on private property and individual liberty and personal choice,” he said.

“This included nationalization of the energy, health care, and banking sectors. As word leaked out about the true cost of these grand plans—and how the rich alone could not cover the costs—his political fortunes faded.”

Maria Simpson, a Democratic operative in Virginia, had mixed feelings about Sanders’s run.

“Sanders is done, but it’ll be a while before he bows out because that’s who he is,” she said.

His campaign did something positive by motivating “young people who are sick of the status quo.”

“Socialism remains a dirty word in this country even though military health care and no-fault private car insurance are run in very similar ways,” Simpson said. “Everybody pays in, regardless, and then when something bad happens the payments are paid out to affected people.”

Simpson said Biden, and Sanders to an extent, have been given a free pass at the expense of female candidates.

“Consider that if Elizabeth Warren had hurled expletives, threats, and sentence fragments, as Biden does, or showed up looking disheveled and unkempt while ranting, as Sanders does, she would never have set foot on a national debate stage,” she said.

Neither Sanders’s Senate office nor his campaign responded to requests for comment.