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Thursday, February 13, 2020


Now that Bernie has crept into a win in New Hampshire by the sneaky, underhanded trick of getting more votes than his opponents, and Biden is, as I expected, toast [except that I like toast!] and Bloomberg’s hideousness is being generously overlooked by the hysterical Democratic Establishment, I think it is time to ask three questions to which inquiring minds desire answers.

1.  Can Bernie get the nomination?  Well, Nate Silver gives him a 44% chance [Lord knows how], and the second best are Biden and no one, so I guess it is not beyond imagining.  We will have a much better idea very soon.

2.  If Bernie gets the nomination, will he win the election?  The Conventional Wisdom is that he will not, but I tend to think he will.  The latest poll putting all the remaining serious candidates up against Trump has them all winning.  Much more significant, in my view, is that in each of the match-ups, Trump gets the same 43%, which suggests that the election is baked in.  Bernie, I am convinced, will do well in the Rust Belt, and that, by itself, should be enough.  Rachel Bitcofer has been predicting a Dem win for six months.

3.  If Bernie wins the election, what sort of president will he be?  That is a complex question.  Let us make the cheerful assumption that he comes to office with both Houses of Congress in Democratic hands.  He will not be able to get truly radical legislation enacted.  I take it that is obvious.  He will, viewed purely from the standpoint of efficient administration, be something of a disheveled disaster.  But he will be a transformative figure, in a way that the sainted Obama was not, and if – this is the biggest unknown of all – if he continues to build a movement on the ground throughout the country after he is elected [as Obama, mysteriously, did not], he could genuinely change American politics for the better.

All of which is obvious, and will inspire the Establishment to heroic efforts to block him.

Question:  Will President Bloomberg release his tax returns?


RFGA, Ph.D. said...

Dream on, Professor. And, while you're at it, feed some more false hope to your America-hating fans. Establishment Dems will block Bernie the Red's nomination. A stealth-socialist, like Klobuchar, will then face President Trump; with the Man from Moscow's supporters either voting for him 3rd party, should he pull a Ross Perot, or sulk. Either way, by the grace of God, the left's own infighting costs them the election. I live in the so-called Rust Belt; trust me, the decent folks around here, from ALL walks of life, will be voting their much fatter, much more secure pocket-books come November. The Trump effect is simply stunning in these environs. As for your polls, who exactly is being surveyed to predict a Dem victory, if, by your own admission, the 'conventional wisdom' favors President Trump? Bit of a contradiction there.

s. wallerstein said...

People who follow Professor Wolff's blog (I doubt that many of us are actually fans in the sense that I'm a Bob Dylan or a Jarvis Cocker fan) aren't "America-hating". Bernie Sanders is as American as Trump is. A gay discotheque in San Francisco is as American as your corner bar is. Angela Davis is as American as Sarah Palin is. Saying that some U.S. citizens are less American than others harks back to HUAC and the worst aspects of McCarthyism.

By the way, Moscow is far from red these days, and if Mr. Putin is supporting anyone in this election it's probably Trump, not Sanders.

Michael said...

(Retrying because my first comment was eaten.)

I think everyone's uncertain and nervous. From what I've read (e.g. on a Politico story I'm too lazy to track down), even some big players on Team Trump are somewhat apprehensive about Bernie. After all, in 2016, much of the "conventional wisdom" regarding electability became suspect - and not just because Trump won despite nearly everyone's prediction; another shock, I thought, was that an aging, self-described socialist could really compete in the race. I also find it mildly shocking that he's in front despite his heart attack.

Things are up in the air. A lot of the confident gloating you see is probably just to mask people's insecurity. (And it should retrospectively enhance the schadenfreude, if we're fortunate enough to enjoy a Bernie victory.)

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Sanders winning the nomination is only maybe "not beyond imagining." He does have a challenge others don't: the open and well moneyed hostility of the DNC and the media.

But by every other measure he is extremely well situated:

1. He has won 2 out of 2 opening state by a total of 10,000 votes.
2. Biden and Warren are in drastic decline.
3. Amy and Pete have very little support from POC, while Bloomberg has a Trump-worthy record on race and gender and represents everything Democrats have been rejecting since Obama in 2008 and especially in 2016.
4. He has an enormous amount of money that continues to regenerate.
5. He has the broadest geographical base from every region: urban and rural, red and blue states, white and non-white, coasts and center.
6. He has the most diverse coalition of people of color and women of any candidate.
7. He is crushing it with the Latino vote (48% vs Bloomberg 17% and Biden 13%).
8. He is rapidly gaining with Black voters (Biden 34%, Sanders 30%, Bloomberg 19%).
9. His core issues, Medicare and progressive taxation, have been overwhelmingly popular with the party for years, polling with overwhelming support for years and in both recent primaries.
10. He is the front runner, near front runner, or competitive second in every single major poll in every single state.
11. He has a 10% lead nationally (29% to Biden 19, Bloomberg 18).
12. He has been winning every poll against Trump for literally 3 years running.

There is no candidate who is equally well situated in all of these measures, not even in many of them. The glut of candidates and stubborness of their supporters could force a brokered convention, but apart from that there's no reason to see anyone else as having an equally good chance, much less a better one.

Colin Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Brown said...


1. I do not hate America. I can be highly critical of it but I genuinely want to see it improve and get its act together in terms of universal health insurance, infrastructure, prescription drug pricing, gun control, etc. (When I visit Western European countries, I become angry that the US is lagging behind them, e.g. in infrastructure.) Thus, do not conflate being liberal (or being critical of America) with hating America. In fact, one could argue that many Trump conservatives “hate America” insofar as they oppose and celebrate the destruction of many key elements of US liberal democracy: the rule of law, the system of checks and balances, the independence of the DOJ and the judiciary, the emoluments clause in the US Constitution, the validity of the impeachment process, etc.

2. If Bernie does not get the nomination, almost all his supporters will vote for the actual nominee (e.g. Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg). Bernie will not run as a third party candidate. He will do whatever he can to help the nominee, as he did for Hillary in 2016. He has been saying this all along.

3. Klobuchar is not a socialist, stealth or otherwise. She is a centrist Democrat. In any Western European country, she would be a moderate conservative, since the center in any such country is further to the left than it is in America. Furthermore, Bernie is really a social democrat (or an FDR liberal), not a full-blown socialist who wants the state to own all the means of production.

4. We’ll see what happens in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc. in the general election. But Bernie’s campaign is highly focused on these states and he is popular there.

5. Not everyone has a “much fatter, much more secure pocket-book” since Trump took office. Yes, the stock market has surged overall since 2016 but keep in mind that the top 20% of Americans own 92% of stocks. So the bottom 80% own only only 8%. The more stocks you own, the more you benefit (in terms of dollars) by, say, a 50% increase in the S&P 500. Thus, the top 20% have benefitted greatly since 2016, whereas the bottom 80% have benefitted to a much lesser degree. In addition, the Trump tax cuts have highly disproportionately favored the wealthy: the top 1% will receive 83% of the benefits and the bottom 99% will receive only 17%. These tax cuts cost $1.5 trillion and have driven up the federal budget deficit. Now Trump is proposing cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps. The Republicans have been following this playbook (i.e. cut taxes mainly for the wealthy, increase military spending, and then cut social programs) since Reagan. We’ll see how many Rust Belt voters support cuts in SS, Medicare, etc. They will not if they care about the rising “deaths from despair” and the decreasing US life expectancy.