As I noted last month, my big problem with Bernie Sanders’ campaign is that his policies are impractical, unachievable, and unrealistic.
When presented with this idea, Bernie’s response has always been that he’s trying to start “a revolution.” The idea, as he explains it, is that with him leading the Democratic Party ticket, he’d bring so many new people and “people who have given up on the process” into the polls — and they’d all stay engaged, naturally, as opposed to the typical Democratic voter who seems to forget that elections are every single year, not every four years — and they’d all vote for downticket Dems, so that President Sanders would have big majorities in both houses of Congress, and that’s how he’d usher in his ambitious agenda. Medicare For All, free college tuition, breaking up the Wall Street institutions, all will sail through the House and Senate because of his “revolution.” Easy-peasy!
Not only does that defy electoral realities, it appears that’s not even what’s happening — at least, not yet. Those “people who have given up on the process”? Yeah, they still didn’t vote in New Hampshire on Tuesday:
Those who don’t vote tend to be younger and less educated, according to the Pew Research Center. More than half of those who sat out the election in 2012 had no more than a high-school diploma and less than $30,000 a year in household income.
Those are the people Sanders has to get to the polls if he hopes not only to win the Democratic nomination, but also to lead troops of the party’s congressional candidates to victory in the general election, establishing the legislative majority his agenda requires.
At least in New Hampshire, though, younger, poorer and less educated people did not turn out in disproportionate numbers for the Democratic primaries, according to exit polling data gathered on behalf of major television networks and the Associated Press in 2008 and on Tuesday.
Nineteen percent of Democratic primary voters — which, as it happens, can include independents under New Hampshire’s rules — in New Hampshire were less than 30 years old, just one percentage point more than in the state’s primary in 2008. Thirty-one percent had less than $50,000 a year in income, compared to 32 percent in 2008. And the share of primary voters without a college degree apparently declined from 46 percent in 2008 to 40 percent on Tuesday.
Not exactly the hoped-for “revolution,” is it? So, how did Bernie Sanders win in New Hampshire? He did so by successfully making his case to the same people who always vote in primaries: the Democratic base. What he did not do was bring in significant numbers of disillusioned, disenfranchised or “new” voters. In fact, he didn’t even increase voter turnout:
In fact, Sanders won by persuading many habitual Democratic primary voters to support him. With 95 percent of precincts reporting their results as of Wednesday morning, just 241,000 ballots had been cast in the Democratic primary, fewer than the 268,000 projected by New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner last week. Nearly 289,000 voters cast ballots in the state’s Democratic primary in 2008.
This is a bit of reality that the Bernie folks are not going to like. But in fact it’s actually really good news for their candidate: hey, he got Democratic voters on board! Yay! But what should be good news does not bode well for him in the general election, nor does it bode well for a successful Sanders presidency, were he to win the general election.
Yes, you want the base to support you. But Bernie Sanders has been telling us that he’s going to generate energy and excitement among the disillusioned voting constituency, and that ain’t happening yet. If there’s going to be a revolution, it had better start soon.