S1: The South Carolina primary is Saturday. There seemed to be only two possible outcomes, if you believe the polling pundits. Both of them depressing to me, but that’s just me. The first is that Bernie Sanders will continue his surge and win a plurality of a flat, fractured field and continue to be in the pole position to win the nomination. The other is the Joe Biden who is polled very strongly in South Carolina over the past year. Finally gets a win thanks to his excellent organizing among African-American voters, and that could potentially change the dynamic of the race going into Super Tuesday, which is just on Tuesday of next week. So. Emily, how is Sanders creating a dominant position for himself in this race? Has he created a dominant position for himself in this race? Well, he’s winning the race.
S2: I mean, that helps. What Sanders has going for him is a very sticky base. It’s not huge. It’s not a majority of the Democratic voters, although in Nevada, he was up in the 40s percentage wise. So I guess that’s close, but it’s really loyal to him. And because the other lanes, however you want to think about it, are fractured because there are so many other candidates still vying to be the main moderate slash non Bernie Sanders alternative. His sticky base is enough.
S3: And he is.
S4: I mean, he has had the most passionate and stable and durable. And think of what he’s already endured, by the way, a heart attack, a very compelling challenger in Elizabeth Warren who believes a lot of the things that he believes and also has a very strong argument, which we should get to about why she would be more effective making those things happen. And yet she has not grabbed his voters or taken his voters away from him.
S3: He’s benefited from this split field and from the inability of any of them to make intelligent criticisms of him. I mean, so, for example, I think going to going at him on guns is just a total waste of time.
S4: Which I again, on that some more, because I don’t think I don’t think people in the Democratic Party really think that if it comes down to it, Bernie Sanders is going to be weak on guns when it comes to when it comes to what a president can do. On the question of guns, for example, if he were you know, if he suddenly came out and said he was against abortion rights, that would be catastrophic and deadly. But the reason he’s surging and the reason he has power in the party can’t just be punctured by a single issue on guns. And then he did what was rather daft in the in the debate, which is basically say, yeah, that was bad vote. I shouldn’t have. You know, I would I’d like to do that one over again. And here has been my record since then. And then it was also an opportunity for him to remind everybody that everybody on the stage had taken bad votes, including the person making the attack, Joe Biden, who voted for the Iraq war. So it felt like he diffused that expertly in the moment. I think the most effective the most effective attack was the one Elizabeth Warren tried to launch when when she said basically, we believe the same stuff. It’s just I’ll be far more effective in getting it done, which is as we’ve discussed before. She’s got a lot of evidence and a lot of talking points to make that case and then and then final. But but then she decided instead of, well, she went after Bloomberg, you know, like with every possible weapon in the drawer with an instinct for the jugular, her her basically she dropped her attacks against Sanders, for whom she has an instinct for the capillaries, as they say.
S1: So it’s an interesting point that sort of combining points you guys made, where you where is that the rest of the field is so crowded that no one can come together. It’s so crowded yet no one’s really satisfied with any of the the other candidates. So it’s not simply that they’re too many of them. It’s there too many of them. And none of them seems to capture the imagination at all, which is I mean, Warren has captured my imagination, but that’s that’s just me.
S2: I keep thinking about a column that David Brooks wrote, I think last week where he said that Bernie Sanders was the Democrat who had a myth to offer, meaning like a big story about what’s wrong with America, parallel or as powerful as the myth that Donald Trump offered in 2016. This is David Brooks’s argument. And Brooks hates the Sanders ideas about surfacing inequality and really talking about class struggle and class war. But I read that column and I thought, yeah, I think he’s right. I think there’s a way in which Sanders, because he is talking in such stark terms, is really compelling to a lot of Democrats who feel incredibly frustrated with Donald Trump’s vision of America. And the other candidates, I think this doesn’t really include Elizabeth Warren, but some of the other candidates in being more moderate, even though they’re being more realistic about what they could actually accomplish. They just sound it sounds a little like weak tea when you hear their versions of it in the debates.
S1: Well, I always come back to the David Plotz theory of politics is that you, whoever is having the most fun wins. And it’s pretty clear that Sanders and Sanders supporters are having the most fun.