Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Bernie Sanders isn’t a threat to Republican candidates

By Nicholas Pappas

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announces his candidacy for President of the United States on Monday April 13, 2015, at the Freedom Tower in Miami. (Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/TNS)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announces his candidacy for President of the United States on Monday April 13, 2015, at the Freedom Tower in Miami. (Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/TNS)

The 2016 presidential election season has been nothing short of incredible. We are now under 100 days away from the Iowa caucuses and the race is becoming clearer on each side.

A new top tier has finally emerged in the Republican contest following the fall of Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and other candidates who were once thought of as favorites. The race now seems to be between Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and perhaps Ben Carson.

Similarly, the Democratic field has gone through a large consolidation as well. What used to be a five or six-person race has narrowed down to just three. Hillary Clinton’s biggest threat was neutralized when Joe Biden decided not to run, and she is left contending almost exclusively with Bernie Sanders.

But Democratic base voters need to realize Sanders is no more than a protest candidate for the hard left. He is limited to the support of coastal and Midwest progressive diehards, in particular a new generation of young people looking to voice their desire for a socially democratic America. This is particularly apparent here at the University of Massachusetts, where support for the Vermont senator is wide and energetic. UMass students seem to want Sanders more than any other candidate in the field.

In the same way Cruz is the pure incarnation of conservative ideology, Sanders is a pure progressive who is unwilling to compromise on virtually any issue. If Sanders were to win the Democratic Party’s nomination, the results of the 2016 general election would look a lot like 1964, 1972 or 1984. In all three election years, disgruntled base voters elected hardliners (Barry Goldwater, George McGovern and Walter Mondale, respectively) to their party’s nominations. And in all three elections, the opposing parties won in massive landslides by being perceived as the more reasonable choice.

Yes, today’s electoral map is very different from what it was decades ago. Yes, the Democratic Party has what has been dubbed a “blue wall,” meaning the safe democratic states collectively have more electoral votes than safe red states. But none of this matters if you don’t have a candidate that can seal the deal with multiple swing states to push your ticket over 270.

It is looking increasingly likely that Rubio will ultimately win the Republican nomination. The talented Florida senator is steadily rising in the polls, becoming a pundit favorite, winning more endorsements from sitting Republicans at the state and federal levels almost daily, taking more big donors from the likes of Bush, Scott Walker and others. Finally, he is also where people are putting their money in the online political betting markets.

If Sanders is the Democratic Party’s choice to face off against Rubio, it would be the closest thing to a landslide we could see in today’s political environment. The Democrats wouldn’t just risk losing swing states, they would easily see Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and other blue-leaning states go red on election night. The blue wall would come crumbling down.

Because the U.S. has a two-party system, our parties function more like large coalitions than ones in other nations. Libertarians and social traditionalists are often forced into the same party in the U.S. Those who care most deeply about environmental impact and those who want more social welfare spending are put in a similar situation. The key to winning a U.S. presidential election is therefore coalition building, and Sanders is not in the same position as Clinton to do this. Alienating working class moderates, gun-owning swing voters and other individuals who could be persuaded to vote for a centrist Democrat is a recipe for disaster. Clinton is already drifting to the left in this primary, but ignoring that and going with Sanders instead would be throwing away an election that many experts have thought for years should be easily winnable for Democrats.

As a Republican, I won’t be bothered if young leftists nominate Sanders in 2016. The contrast between a very old, more extreme, less skilled communicator and Rubio would be fantastic for the conservative party. Clinton is by no means a perfect candidate, given her corruption and trust issues, but even she would perform better than Sanders in what will be a close general election if she gets nominated.

Voters need to realize the executive branch is more influential than almost ever before. A Republican president can and will reverse many key initiatives of the Obama years unilaterally if he or she wins the White House. Perhaps young Democrats need to learn this lesson the hard way, as their party did decades ago before settling for the moderate New Democrat Bill Clinton. If so, Marco Rubio would be happy to instruct this lesson.

Nicholas Pappas is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon as hardliners. It has since been changed to the correct names. 


11 Responses to “Bernie Sanders isn’t a threat to Republican candidates”

  1. Zac Bears on November 10th, 2015 9:43 am

    Except the GOP is going to end up nominating Trump, Cruz, or Carson, any of whom Sanders or Clinton will crush in a general. You also forget that Bernie is less likely to alienate moderate gun owners than Clinton, and that he is actually doing better than she is among working-class white voters. Maybe Rubio could beat Bernie, but by the end of the GOP primary, Rubio will be a tattered shell of himself in the eyes of an electorate that just watched Jeb Bush spend $50+ million trying to stay relevant by tearing Rubio to shreds. The DNC doesn’t even need to waste money attacking Republicans right now; the Republican candidates are ripping each other to pieces.

  2. Nick Pappas on November 10th, 2015 10:03 am

    Editors need to do a better job editing.

    Nixon, Johnson and Reagan were not the hardliners I was referencing. Clearly, it was Goldwater, McGovern and Mondale. Don’t insert things in my piece if you don’t know what it is I am writing about.

  3. Stanley Alexander on November 10th, 2015 10:40 am

    “Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan” were not “hardliners.” Also, the sentence is backwards. I think you mean to say Barry Goldwater, George McGovern, and Walter Mondale, which were the losing candidates. The editors’ inserted the wrong names. Please correct.

  4. Kris on November 10th, 2015 12:53 pm

    GOP is unlikely to nominate Trump or Carson, and will probably go with Rubio over Cruz. Bernie has very little chance of getting the nod, since the DNC will want to nominate someone that normal people who work for a living will vote for. If he does get the nod, you can expect a republican to be president.

  5. David Hunt 1990 on November 10th, 2015 4:22 pm

    Seeing as Shrillary’s email problems are growing, with more and more classified documents on her almost-certainly hacked server… including ones marked TOP SECRET… she might well be the first candidate nominated while under threat of indictment.

  6. David Hunt 1990 on November 10th, 2015 1:27 pm

    Could someone please point me towards the forest of trees on which all the free sh*t Bernie is promising will grow?

  7. mvymvy on November 10th, 2015 3:17 pm

    The Democratic candidate does not have to seal the deal with multiple swing states to push the ticket over 270. Florida’s 29 electoral votes are all that would be needed.

    From 1992- 2012
    13 states (with 102 electoral votes) voted Republican every time
    19 states (with 242) voted Democratic every time

    If this 20 year pattern continues, and the National Popular Vote bill does not go into effect,
    Democrats only would need a mere 28 electoral votes from other states.
    If Republicans lose Florida (29), they would lose.

  8. Zac Bears on November 10th, 2015 5:20 pm

    I wouldn’t call Walter Mondale a “hardliner.”

  9. Will Keve on November 10th, 2015 10:52 pm

    I don’t suppose it matters that Sanders out polls Hillary against republican candidates and has consistently done so. Why let the facts get in the way?

    Just yesterday, polling shows Sanders beating Rubio by 3 and Clinton losing to Rubio by 6. Please, explain how that’s less threatening at this time. Sanders has higher margins than Clinton against every republican candidate, by the way:

  10. LOL on November 12th, 2015 10:11 am

    Dem primary is down to Hillary, O’Malley, and Bernie. O’Malley is not a serious contender, and anyone who was old enough to vote in the 2004 election (Howard Dean) knows that Bernie will fizzle. 3 candidates, 1 contender.

    Rep primary is still at Rubio, Cruz, Carson, Fiorina, Rand, Trump, Bush, and Kasich. Carson and Trump will fizzle similarly. Really leaves Rubio and Cruz for contenders. 8 candidates, 2 contenders.

    That’s why early polls don’t matter. The dynamics will change considerably as the candidate pool gets slimmer.

    Regarding the Florida comment above, consider that the two realistic GOP front runners are of Cuban descent.

    And Mondale was a hardliner in 1984 America.

  11. TommyT on November 29th, 2015 12:35 pm

    Is this your way of saying you’d better vote for Hillary, because Bernie has no chance of winning? I am no fan of Hillary Clinton, to be sure, but “the wasted vote” theory of political influence is nonsense. Any candidate can win any race in any election. The formula for success? Secure more votes than your opponent.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

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