Bernie Sanders To Enter Race For Democratic Presidential Nomination

Bernie Sanders is running for President. He's not going to win, but he's not running because he thinks he can win.

NPC LUNCHEON SANDERS

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist who has served as an Independent in the Senate and House of Representatives, will launch a largely quixotic bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination on Thursday:

Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, plans to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, a person familiar with his thinking said, presenting competition from the political left to front runner Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Sanders, one of the Senate’s most consistent liberals, will join Mrs. Clinton as a formal candidate for the Democratic nomination. He is expected to make a statement online Thursday and hold a kickoff event at the end of May in Burlington, Vt.

Mr. Sanders has been a senator since 2007 and is a senior member on the Senate Budget Committee.

As one of the Senate’s foremost liberals, Mr. Sanders could become the favored candidate of Democrats who hoped Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren would enter the race. He has pledged to run a campaign that takes on big banks and focuses on issues such as income inequality.

In December, Mr. Sanders released a 12-point economic agenda in which he pledged to push for a minimum-wage increase, more-affordable higher education, a “major investment” in infrastructure and rules to help workers more easily form labor unions. Mr. Sanders, who opposes expedited congressional review of the 12-nation Pacific trade deal now under negotiation, also called for a changed course on trade policies.

He also said big financial institutions should be broken up. “The greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of major Wall Street firms plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. They are too powerful to be reformed,” he wrote in his policy document.

His comments were similar to those from Ms. Warren, who has made Wall Street her primary target as senator.

Mr. Sanders’s campaign plans were first reported Tuesday by Vermont Public Radio.

It isn’t clear whether Mr. Sanders, a longtime independent, will join the Democratic Party. The Democratic National Committee requires a candidate seeking the party nomination to be a “bona fide Democrat,” according to a document that outlines the party’s convention rules, but the document doesn’t define the term.

The senator has traveled recently to states that hold the earliest presidential nominating contests, among them South Carolina and Iowa.

One factor playing into Mr. Sanders’s decision was how much money he would be able to raise for his campaign. “When you think about undertaking a national presidential campaign, you have to be talking about sums of money which are almost incomprehensible,” he told The Wall Street Journal in an interview in February. “The first question is: Can you raise enough money to run a winning campaign? I’m trying to figure that one out.”

Like many political gadfly’s, Sanders is an interesting character, a self-described socialist who has managed to get elected statewide in Vermont several times and has managed to find a way to play along with the Democratic Caucus in the Senate well enough that they have given him the Chairmanship of the Committee on Veterans Affairs as well as several other committee assignments despite the fact that he isn’t officially a Democrat. On policy issues, he takes positions that are likely quite appealing to many Democrats, especially those on the left who may not be entirely comfortable with the idea of Hillary Clinton as their party’s standard bearer in 2016, but who have also come to realize that Elizabeth Warren isn’t going to run for President after all. Perhaps the thing he’s most well known for in recent years is the “filibuster” that he conducted in 2010  in what was an ultimately vain attempt to stop the renewal of the Bush Tax Cuts. He has also been heavily critical of Democrats like Clinton who have cultivated ties with Wall Street and the banking community over the past decade or more and his political rhetoric harkens back to the more populist Democrats of the 1970s such as George McGovern.

At the same time, though, it’s fairly obvious that Bernie Sanders has no chance at all of being the Democratic nominee for President, and he’s not likely to be any kind of a serious challenger to Clinton going forward. For one thing, he’s old, by the time the Presidential race starts Sanders will be 74 years old and he’d be 75 years old by the time a new President takes office. People can say that age doesn’t matter in a President all they want, but the American people aren’t going to elect a 75 year old to the White House. Beyond his age, though, there’s the simple fact that Sanders is simply too far left politically to be a viable candidate for President. Yes, there is a certain segment of the Democratic Party that will like what they hear from him, and Sanders will probably get a lot of press coverage during the course of the campaign as the “gadfly” candidate but, at the end of the day, he’s not going to appeal to very many people outside of that rather small progressive wing of the Democratic Party. In addition to age and politics, Sanders will also be hampered by the fact that he will not be able to put together the kind of campaign that would be able to out manuver a the Clinton campaign, or indeed even a campaign run by other potential Democratic candidates like Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, both because he will not be able to raise the same amount of money and because he won’t be able to hire the same caliber of professional campaign workers that other candidates will. The reality of all of this is reflected in his position in the polls. Nationally, Sanders is averaging 5.6% in the RealClearPolitics poll, and while that puts him behind two candidates who aren’t running, Warren and Biden, it likely reflects something close to the apex of his support. Sanders does a little better in Iowa, where he’s averaging 7.0%, and in New Hampshire, where the fact that he represents a neighboring state is likely helping him reach 11.3% in the polls. This is likely about as far as Sanders is going to rise in the polls, though. Candidates like O’Malley and Webb, if they enter the race, will likely rise far higher than they are now simply because their position now is largely a reflection of a lack of name recognition. That’s not really the case with Sanders, who is pretty well known among those people who would be likely to vote in a Democratic Primary. So, yes, the media will pay attention to Sanders, but don’t delude yourselves into believing he’s going anywhere.

It occurs to me that Sanders likely knows all of this. He may be an iconoclast and an idealist, and he may have what I’d described as some fairly kooky ideas, but he nonetheless strikes me as being enough of a realist to know that, even in a year where there wasn’t a political juggernaut named Hillary Clinton in the race, he has no realistic chance of winning a Presidential nomination or even being a serious contender. Instead of running to win, though, it’s rather clear that Sanders is running in order to have a platform to speak about the issues that he cares about and, more importantly, to push Clinton to talk about issues such as income inequality, the power of banks, and other issues that she’d likely rather avoid. To that extent, maybe Sanders actually will succeed.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Hillary Clinton, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. appleannie says:

    “more importantly, to push Clinton to talk about issues such as income inequality, the power of banks, and other issues that she’d likely rather avoid. To that extent, maybe Sanders actually will succeed.”

    I think that’s pretty much exactly why he’s running and I’m glad to see him do so. I’d vote for him in a heartbeat if I thought he had a chance but he doesn’t.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Sanders is running in order to have a platform to speak about the issues that he cares about and, more importantly, to push Clinton to talk about issues such as income inequality, the power of banks, and other issues that she’d likely rather avoid.

    That alone is reason enough to send him some money.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    I’m a native Vermonter and I love Bernie!!!
    I may even vote for him because I live in deep Blue Connecticut and no one stands a chance of taking this state from Hillary.
    That said we don’t need him taking votes from Clinton in key states like Florida or Ohio.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    to push Clinton to talk about issues such as income inequality, the power of banks, and other issues that she’d likely rather avoid.

    I get your point…but I think inequality is going to be a big part of Clinton’s campaign…indeed it already has been. Bernie may push her further left, of force her to sharpen her message…both of which are good things.

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    @C. Clavin: He’s not running as a 3rd party candidate so he won’t be able to take votes from Hillary in the general election. The last thing he wants is a Republican president and won’t do anything that would make that more likely unlike Nader in 2000.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    He’s not running as a 3rd party candidate so he won’t be able to take votes from Hillary in the general election.

    Ah…good point. I guess I need more caffeine this am.

  7. superdestroyer says:

    I hope some brave graduate student counts up the number of days that vanity candidates like Sanders actually spends in Iowa or New Hampshire doing grass roots campaigning. My guess is that Sanders will be an MSNBC-candidate where most of his appearances will be on television doing his normal shtick with very little retail campaigning.

  8. Kylopod says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Bernie may push her further left, of force her to sharpen her message…both of which are good things.

    Unfortunately, I can’t see him forcing her to do anything if he doesn’t look like much of a threat to her.

  9. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kylopod:

    Agreed. I suspect she’ll mostly ignore him, or at best patronize him. I generally like Bernie, but in a doddering, crazy old uncle sort of way. He doesn’t have the influence necessary to shift her campaign to the left to any meaningful extent.

  10. J-Dub says:

    vanity candidates like Sanders

    Sanders may be many things, but vain is not one of them. I see him as a true servant of the people. I will donate to his campaign so he can at least get his message heard.

  11. Mu says:

    Having to choose between Sanders and Huckabee, the electoral college had both candidates shot and petitioned the Queen for readmission of the colonies.

  12. superdestroyer says:

    @J-Dub:

    When one runs for president with no chance of winning, then it is a vanity campaign by definition. Maybe Bernie Sanders is running to talk about his economic issues. But what happens when asked about foreign policy, education, immigration, or has to reconcile the internal conflicts of his past actions as a Senator versus what he is proposing now.

    In looking at his 12 point plan cite, clean energy is one of the points. However, Vermont has a nimby campaign to keep windmills out of Vermont and is contemplating laws to make it impossible to build windmill generators in the state. cite

  13. Scott F. says:

    @Kylopod and @HarvardLaw92:

    I don’t imagine Sanders much cares if he’s able to influence a shift in Sec. Clinton’s campaign. As Doug acknowledges, Sanders is running in order to speak about the issues that he cares about. With a press that will be “bored” covering Clinton as an inevitability and excited to allege a Democratic Party in disarry, Sanders will get plenty of air time to make his case.

    Bold, idealistic progressivism gets it’s day in the sun, while Clinton holds her ground closer to the center and comes across as the more practical choice. This is a win-win as far I’m concerned.

  14. Moosebreath says:

    @Scott F.:

    “With a press that will be “bored” covering Clinton as an inevitability and excited to allege a Democratic Party in disarry, Sanders will get plenty of air time to make his case.”

    That’s certainly part of it. Another part is that if only Hillary runs, there is no such thing as a Democratic debate, which gives free airtime to people who want to defend Obama and to make the case against the Republican orthodoxy which will otherwise be all anyone sees on TV for the next year or so.

  15. Cd6 says:

    I do think it’s sort of hilarious that Sanders low poll numbers are cause to dismiss hm so it having a chance, while the GOP candidates are all themselves mired in single digits except for 2 or 3 of em. Ted Cruz wouldLOVE to get 11% in NH for example

  16. dmichael says:

    Mr. Mataconis says, without citing any example, that Senator Sanders has “some fairly kooky ideas” and HarvardLaw92 chimes in with “doddering, crazy old uncle.” Any evidence, gentlemen? I should be so lucky as to be as sharp and tireless as Senator Sanders at age 74. If you want “kooky” just listen to Rand Paul for more than five minutes and if you want “doddering, crazy old uncle” just listen to John McCain.

  17. Ron Beasley says:

    @dmichael: Well said!

  18. Neil Hudelson says:

    @superdestroyer:

    First, thank you for the citations. Second, the article you link to amply demonstrates that the NIMBY “campaign” is incredibly small, and has not posed a problem to any of the past wind energy projects. At the end of the article it lists how many projects are underway–more than what has currently been completed.

    So, no, I don’t think he’ll need to explain why a small group of people don’t like wind turbines. (Those citizen commiittees pop up in every area with a wind energy project. It would be like asking a candidate to defend why there is a crazy person on the street corner in their hometown, proclaiming that Armageddon is nigh. Every town’s got one.)

    From the article:

    “That outspoken opposition, however, contradicts polls showing widespread support for in-state renewable energy. Green Mountain Power customer surveys conducted since 2008 consistently show that 68 percent to 72 percent of residents support wind power. A recent poll by WCAX News showed that of 607 Vermonters surveyed, 70 percent supported wind turbines on the state’s ridgelines.

    Efforts to stop wind projects also run counter to the state’s policy of developing more in-state renewable projects.”

  19. superdestroyer says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The point is that Senator Sanders has fun going on to speak in venues such as MSNBC because he can talk only about the points he cares about and he will not face any hard questions. However, if Senator Sanders went to Iowa, he may face questions outside of his comfort area and people may actually ask him about the details of his 12 points. A good point will be how will health care workers maintain their current pay levels if a Medicare for all system is starts with the accompanying low reimbursement rates. Or why would anyone want to invest in a company where the only competitive advantage the company may have is a tariff.

  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott F.:

    He’s preaching to the already convinced. but If he wants to do it, more power to him and best of luck

    If we’re honest with ourselves, though, it’s unlikely to achieve much of anything beyond giving those who are already in agreement with him (and who were already going to vote Dem) a warm fuzzy.

  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @dmichael:

    Like I said, he’s preaching to the already convinced, which seems to include you, and in that regard, he and Rand Paul are two peas in the same pod. Neither of them will have the slightest effect on either the races or the positions taken by the likely nominees.

    Or, put another way, were you ever going to vote anything other than Dem before Bernie entered the race? I like the guy, but in terms of political influence he ranks somewhere below the Save the Spotted Owl Society (nod to Sorkin …)

  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I suspect that support for wind turbines varies proportionally to the distance they’ll be located from one’s home. It’s sort of meaningless to ask someone a leading, vague question like “do you support renewable energy?”

    The question should be “do you support wind turbines near your house?”

  23. Dave D says:

    @HarvardLaw92: We’ll have to wait to see if Sanders changes his positions to pander to a certain base of the party. Rand has already walked back most of his non-intervention beliefs to court neocons and his positions on gay equality to court the socons. In this regard they are not two peas in the same pod yet, because Rand foolishly believes he has a chance and is spouting beliefs the base wants to hear.

  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The question should be “do you support wind turbines near your house?”

    Only if the entire population has a decent chance of having a turbine in their backyard. If not–which is certainly the case here–then the poll should capture public support for an energy initiative, even if a small subset of those polled would change their answer on the statistically unlikely chance that the turbines would end up in their backyard. Your version of the poll would be meaningless from a policy standpoint. Polls–at least polls that are actually sincere in sussing out public opinion on a policy–rightly focus on support for the abstract principle.

    For instance, a poll of support for raising taxes on the wealthy would have X% saying yes, but a poll that asks “Would you support raising a tax on the wealthy if tomorrow you woke up wealthy” would have a lot less people responding in the affirmative. But since the liklihood of many people waking up wealthy the next day is incredibly low, that poll would be meaningless.

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I tried to get the condo board to put something like that on top of our building, but it turns out that we don’t own access to it…..

    Something that would generate energy and kill pigeons at the same time? Sign me up!

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The point is that it has to be in SOMEONE’S back yard. It’s not a nebulous concept – it’s a 150 or so foot tall tower with a giant propeller that makes a pretty fair amount of noise. It’s meaningless to get some feel good response about the concept in general unless you also determine if people are more likely to oppose it in the specific.

  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Dave D:

    I doubt that he will. Bernie is a True Believer™ – the kind that will keep charging the windmill on his donkey because he BELIEVES.

    As I said, I like the guy, but politically speaking he’s pretty non-existent outside of the small coterie of his fans – none of whom were ever going to vote Republican. They’ll let him have his fun and smile at him in that “what a quaint little man” way, but they won’t engage him. They have no reason to.

  28. michael reynolds says:

    I like Bernie Sanders, and his overall thrust is correct – the future is more socialism. But he’s right too early. You get no points in this country for being right early, you have to be right just as the tipping point arrives, and then, when everyone can understand what you’re saying, you can play prophet. Six months early, or ten years early, you’re laughed at.

  29. LC says:

    Sanders will also be hampered by the fact that he will not be able to put together the kind of campaign that would be able to out manuver a the Clinton campaign, or indeed even a campaign run by other potential Democratic candidates like Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, both because he will not be able to raise the same amount of money and because he won’t be able to hire the same caliber of professional campaign workers that other candidates will.

    There is literally zero evidence that Sanders would have a difficult, or more difficult time, recruiting staff compared to O’Malley or Webb. Who are O’Malley and/or Webb loyalists waiting to spring into action? Who is donating to Jim Webb’s campaign? As usual, this entire post is “conventional wisdom” nonsense. For a blog called “Outside the Beltway” you seem to constantly and only regurgitate beltway media talking points, Doug.

    I wish James and/or Steve had more time to write.

  30. CS says:

    Might be quite a good thing for Socialism in the US- having someone who has both a big microphone and a willingness to stand up and say “Damn right I’m a socialist!” then start laying out the positive meaning of that might not hurt. It certainly might start to remove the stigma of the word a bit.

  31. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Speaking of True Believers™, one just showed up … 😀

  32. edmond says:

    @C. Clavin:

    but I think inequality is going to be a big part of Clinton’s campaign…

    LOL. What net? Kim Kardashian talking about the benefits of celibacy?

  33. CS says:

    @HarvardLaw92: If you mean me, not so much- I do feel that it’s a direction that has been stigmatized far too much in the US, though. It’s not a perfect philosophy (not even close), but it does have some positive elements that the US could benefit from at least debating honestly. Instinctive objections just based on “Socialists are Eeeeevilll” are not very helpful, especially when the people recoiling mostly don’t know why they dislike Socialism.

  34. Grewgills says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    If those “more likely to oppose it in the specific” are a rather small subset of the general population then no.

  35. Matt says:

    @HarvardLaw92: The noise isn’t that big of a deal it’s the shadows they create that can be super annoying.

    In my limited experience being around wind turbines in Illinois/Indiana.

  36. dmichael says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Your condescension is showing. (I have to admit that I am now sensitive to this issue about “tolerating” an old man, having become a grandfather). Senator Sanders is not running to win but to publicize his progressive views. In that role he will succeed unless people succeed in painting him as a “doddering, crazy old uncle.” As to true believer, wrong. I am not a socialist and frankly, neither is Senator Sanders. As to voting other than “Dem,” I have four words: United States Supreme Court. I assume that a Harvard Law graduate would understand that concern.

  37. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Grewgills:

    How do you know the size of that population unless you ask?

    Note: I’m mainly playing devil’s advocate because the echo chamber nature of the conversation around here is starting to get on my nerves.

  38. EddieInCA says:

    @dmichael:

    As to true believer, wrong. I am not a socialist and frankly, neither is Senator Sanders.

    Actually, Senator Sanders is most definitely a socialist.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/04/29/bernie-sanders-is-an-avowed-socialist-and-democrats-are-actually-pretty-ok-with-that/

    When he first won election to the House in 1990, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) embraced his political identity. “I am a socialist and everyone knows that,” Sanders said, responding to an ad that tried to link him to the regime of Fidel Castro.

  39. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @dmichael: you are missing the point. Sanders is exceedingly unlikely to convince, or for that matter to engage, few people who aren’t already onboard. He’s shouting at the rain.

    I like the guy. I like my somewhat odd Uncle Sol too (who actually is a dyed in the wool socialist). Their quirks are intriguing, but neither one of them will ever lead a movement. They’re toilers. Well meaning toilers, but toilers nonetheless.

  40. Grewgills says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Polling isn’t how you find out how many people would have windmills in their “backyard”. The way to answer that question is to look at where the planned farms are and where people live relative to those locations. Simply asking people if they are likely to have a farm in their “backyard” will almost certainly give you a MUCH less accurate answer to that question.
    Most places I have lived have had farms relatively nearby supplying some level of local power. In every case there were relatively few people living close enough for the farms to be louder than the freeway is to a typical city resident. I’m open to being shown that my experience is atypical, but I doubt that is forthcoming.

  41. Ben Wolf says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Or, put another way, were you ever going to vote anything other than Dem before Bernie entered the race?

    Yes.

  42. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Grewgills:

    Polling is how you find out how many people would be amenable to having one of these things in their backyard.

    For example, I like the idea of wind power in theory, but I don’t want one of the things anywhere near my house – for a variety of reasons. If you polled me and simply asked me – yes or no – if I support wind power, you’ll get a misleading answer.

  43. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    You were going to vote Republican?

  44. Paul Hooson says:

    The anti-wealth, anti-business politics of Bernie Sanders are way too far to the left to suit my personal tastes, and are likely unelectable in this country. In some parts of Europe he could win. – But, history is also against Bernie Sanders as well….As much as I would like to see a Jew be elected president someday, no Jewish major candidate for president or vice president has ever won. John Kerry came from a Jewish ancestry and came close. Barry Goldwater was from a Jewish ancestry and fell way short. Joe Liberman came very close as vice presidential candidate running with Al Gore in 2000, but once again fell short.

    Very few Americans hate Jews. They are treated very well in the United States overall, but many Americans are wary to make a Jew president because they worry about how it affects relations with Israel as being too cozy. Maybe someday a Jew is elected president, but not likely in my lifetime. Hillary Clinton or some woman is more likely to be elected president or a Hispanic elected president before a Jew is likely to win because of fears of a Jewish president’s closeness to Israel…

  45. Grewgills says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    The subset of people that will have a farm in their ‘back yard’ vs the set of people that will gain generated electricity from said farm is rather small. That is why your question is considerably less important than the other.
    The same question about half way houses and you will probably get similar sets of answers. The difference is there it matters much more, since half way houses need to be in communities. Windmill farms can sit out in sparsely populated rural areas and serve the adjacent communities. NIMBY matters much less for the farms.

  46. Kylopod says:

    @Paul Hooson: Of all the explanations for why Sanders is unelectable, yours must rank as the weirdest I’ve ever heard.

    For the record, Gore/Lieberman didn’t just come close to winning, but actually won the popular vote. That pretty much demolishes any theory that a Jew can’t be elected on a presidential ticket.

    There are certainly pockets of anti-Semitism in this country today, but it’s far less than the prejudice experienced by blacks and Latinos (not to mention Muslims), and certainly a lot less than Jews faced just a couple of generations ago.

    In the early 2000s I was talking with one of my grandmother’s St. Lucian caregivers and we both agreed that a woman and a Jew would be elected US president before a black person. We were wrong, obviously, but in many ways Obama’s rise was flukey, and there are still significant institutional barriers preventing blacks from reaching the White House–among them, they happen to be wildly underrepresented in the two offices from which most presidential candidates arise, the Senate and governorships. Obama was just the fifth black Senator in history. And there have only been four black governors. In contrast, Jews are wildly overrepresented in the Senate and there have been at least a dozen Jewish governors.

  47. Paul Hooson says:

    @Kylopod: I’m from Jewish ancestry myself. – It’s probably just the individual candidates such as Kerry and especially Goldwater that largely fell short on their own. But, I think few voters have any reservations about electing any Jewish candidate to any office short of the presidency. – At the presidential level, I think some voters begin to question the closeness of the candidate to Israel or whether the candidate could draw the U.S. into a Mideast war. – Bernard Sanders is an interesting case. He’s popular in Vermont, and something of a populist figure there. But, his unconventional politics will hardly sail outside of Vermont. Just like some of the extreme Republican candidates, Sanders is out of the mainstream of electability.

    BTW, the 2000 election was an interesting case. Al Gore lost the election because he failed to win his home state of Tennessee, despite winning the popular vote nationwide. Despite all the disputed facts about Florida, Al Gore’s home state could have made him president, but his own people turned thumbs down on what should have been a favorite son choice.

  48. Kylopod says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    It’s probably just the individual candidates such as Kerry and especially Goldwater that largely fell short on their own.

    Of course. How many people even knew Kerry was of Jewish ancestry? I’d wager even most Jews are unaware of it. Goldwater is a different case because (a) He had a Jewish-sounding name (b) He lived in a much more anti-Semitic time. Still, I’d agree that he would have lost in a landslide regardless of his ancestry.

    (By the way, I’ve always loved the quote about Goldwater, attributed to various people: “I always knew the first Jewish president would be an Episcopalian.”)

    At the presidential level, I think some voters begin to question the closeness of the candidate to Israel or whether the candidate could draw the U.S. into a Mideast war.

    Well, Louis Farrakhan said something of that sort about Lieberman in 2000, and I have no doubt that “some voters” agreed with him. “Some voters” will vote against a candidate because they don’t like his shirt. The question isn’t what “some voters” will do, but whether said voters will constitute an insurmountable hurdle to the candidate’s being elected.

    Many, many Republican voters dislike Mormons, yet that didn’t stop Mitt Romney from winning the GOP nomination. Indeed, the percentage of Americans who say they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon presidential candidate (18%) is significantly higher than for a Jew (6%).

    Just like some of the extreme Republican candidates, Sanders is out of the mainstream of electability.

    I totally agree, but we need to keep in mind that his electability is a moot point, since he has zero chance of even being nominated.

    Al Gore lost the election because he failed to win his home state of Tennessee

    Woodrow Wilson also lost his home state (New Jersey) while winning the 1916 election. It’s rare, but it has absolutely no bearing on the legitimacy of a candidate’s victory. In any case, the reason Gore lost Tennessee was similar to why Romney lost Massachusetts, except in reverse: in the years since he became vp, he had drifted from the conservative Southern politics of his House and Senate career.

  49. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Grewgills:

    Again, you are assuming that the people who live in those areas will not be opposed. You can’t know that with any certainty unless you ask them.

  50. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kylopod:

    Neither John Kerry nor Barry Goldwater are Jewish. They have Jewish ancestry to varying degrees, but neither is (nor indeed ever can be) Jewish by birth as they were born to Gentile mothers. They would both have had to convert – neither ever has / did.

  51. Kylopod says:

    @HarvardLaw92: The halachic definition of Jewishness (ancestry through the maternal line) has very little bearing on the public perception of a person’s identity, which is what we were discussing here.

  52. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kylopod:

    I would imagine that the public viewed them as being what they are – Episcopalians. They’re not Jewish.

  53. Grewgills says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    No. I’m assuming that, as has typically been the case where wind farms have been built, that the people that live close enough to be bothered by the noise will be a relatively small minority of the people who get to vote on whether or not the farm goes in. The only time it seems to matter what the NIMBY people think is if they are rich.

  54. Kylopod says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I would imagine that the public viewed them as being what they are – Episcopalians.

    Kerry? I doubt very many in the public viewed him as Episcopalian. Because he wasn’t one. He was (is) a Catholic.

    Goldwater? Well, he was in actual fact an Episcopalian, but not everyone viewed him that way. According to a 1963 report by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak for the Washington Post,

    “The Thunderbolt,” a hate sheet published in Birmingham, Ala., devoted its July issue to an anti-Jewish attack describing Goldwater as a “kosher conservative.” …. “National Dump Goldwater” flyers were handed out at the National Draft Goldwater rally here in Washington, July 4. Describing Goldwater as a “Jew phoney” (sic) and “the Arizona Israelite,” the flyer declared: “Hear Goldwasser tell lie after lie to get your vote.” …. “Will white Christian conservatives be fooled into voting for the first open Jew to be President of the U. S. A.?”, it asks. “A two-faced Jew, of Russian parentage, would be the . . . fatal blow to the right wing of America.”

    Of course stuff like this came mostly from the fringe, and in the end Goldwater got the support of many anti-Semites, including all those Southern bigots who hated Jews as well as blacks.

    But that just goes to show how much bigotry is wrapped up with politics. Had Goldwater been a leftist, I’d wager he’d have been the target of far more anti-Semitic smears, kind of like the way conservative racists today gush over Clarence Thomas while depicting Obama as the Kenyan witch-doctor-in-chief.

  55. Ben Wolf says:

    @HarvardLaw92: A third party candidate. Clinton will not have my vote but Sanders would.

  56. J-Dub says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The question should be “do you support wind turbines near your house?”

    Or, “would you rather have a wind turbine or a coal-fired plant near your house?” I think wind turbine wins that one every time.

  57. Tillman says:

    @J-Dub: Or a paper mill. Turns an entire metropolitan area into one giant fart. (cf. Roanoke Rapids)

    The little reading I’ve done on modern wind farms suggests the shadows from it are the most annoying aspect (like a strobe light in every window, as one person put it), and the people hit by the shadows have to live within a certain stretch of the things. That’s why coastal wind farms are preferred, and that only annoys people who love unspoiled beachfront views. Y’know, assholes.

  58. J-Dub says:

    @Tillman: I live in “Paper City”, Holyoke MA, but most of the paper mills were long gone by the time I got there. We still have the dam for clean hydro-electric power though! They just closed the local coal-fired plant, the last one in MA if I’m not mistaken.

  59. superdestroyer says:

    @J-Dub:

    The standard activist reply is that of course, the support renewal energy in all of its forms but that do not want to spoil the natural, untouched ridgelines of Vermont and thus, support a ridge line preservation law for all of Vermont. The leftist activist know how to phrase their positions so that they cannot be blame while knowing all the time what the impact will be.

  60. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    So, in essence, a meaningless vote which both parties will ignore. Thanks for playing.

  61. Ben Wolf says:

    @HarvardLaw92: That comment makes no sense, but given my falsification of your assertion Sanders can’t pull in any votes that wouldn’t have already gone Democrat, I suppose it makes some sort of sense to abandon your premise and attempt a new line of attack.

  62. jukeboxgrad says:

    It certainly might start to remove the stigma of the word a bit.

    The word (‘socialist’) might have less stigma than you think. Consider these groups: people under 30, blacks, Hispanics and people with a family income under $30,000. In those groups, the term ‘socialism’ is more likely to elicit a positive reaction than the term ‘capitalism’ (Pew, 2011).

    % of people over 65 who have a positive reaction to the term ‘socialism:’ 13%.
    % of people under 30 who have a positive reaction to the term ‘socialism:’ 49%.
    Maybe things are changing.

  63. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I think you know exactly what it means. Sanders is not going to be the nominee, period, and you’re intelligent enough to know that. At least based on your other commentary you should be anyway.

  64. inhumans99 says:

    He just raised 1.5m in 24hrs (beating the #s Ted Cruz raised in 24hrs), and there are articles on Democratic Party friendly sites like Mother Jones saying he has already answered more press questions than Hillary Clinton, so if I were Hillary Clinton, I would actually be paying attention to the threat that Sanders represents.

    After all, she and her supporters made this mistake once when they thought they had things in the bag the last election cycle, so it would just be nuts for them to make the same mistake twice.

  65. Kylopod says:

    @inhumans99:

    After all, she and her supporters made this mistake once when they thought they had things in the bag the last election cycle, so it would just be nuts for them to make the same mistake twice.

    Alright, let’s shatter this myth once and for all. Sanders’ candidacy is not in any way, shape, or form comparable to Obama’s in 2008:

    1) Despite the attempts by opponents to paint him as a radical, Obama was generally seen as far more in the mainstream than Sanders ever has been.

    2) Obama was always a Democrat.

    3) Obama never self-identified as a “socialist,” a dirty word in American politics that turns off scores of voters, even many who agree with Sanders on most issues.

    4) Contrary to popular belief, Obama always had significant support from party elites. The notion that Obama was some “outsider” candidate who toppled the “establishment” candidate is nothing more than a myth (one that Obama himself has been happy to perpetuate, but still untrue). In this cycle, the Democratic Party establishment is almost unanimously behind Hillary.

    5) Sanders is 73 years old. Nuf said.

    I love how anytime someone suggests that a presidential candidate has no chance of winning, the supporters crawl out of the woodwork and protest, “But they said the same about ——!” Right-wingers do this all the time with Reagan, whenever anyone deigns to suggest that the loonie-toon of the moment (Ben Carson, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, etc.) is unelectable. Now it appears liberals are doing it with Obama, for any left-wing candidate they favor.