Quick Hit Friday: Comparing the Paths of Trump 2016 and Sanders 2020

Bernie Sanders is without question in the best position to win the most delegates in the Democratic Primary. He won the popular vote in the first two contests, he now leads national polls, and Joe Biden, once Sanders’s top rival in this race, looks like a car driving down the road with various parts falling off it.

Though Sanders faces resistance from the pile-up in the moderate lane, a pile-up it remains. As long as Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg vie to be the alternative to Sanders, Sanders should win most primaries and caucuses.

Considering the above, some people compare Sanders 2020 to Trump 2016. Both had a high floor of devoted, non-mainstream support, which aided them against the internecine conflicts of the establishment. Though Trump had a hard time winning popular vote majorities, his consistent plurality victories were enough to dominate the primary. Indeed, though he only won 44.9% of the primary vote, he won 1,441 of the 2,472 pledged delegates — a comfortable majority rate of 58.2%. Even that 44.9 number was a bit inflated; he clinched a delegate majority before the the last nine contests, each of which voted for an opponent-less Trump with 60 to 80 percent of the vote, including a 75% number from mega-California.

The theory now is that Sanders can follow a similar path: keep winning pluralities and contests until he has a delegate majority, outlast all the losers, and then voters have no one left to choose by the end of it. Makes sense.

Or does it?

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Des Moines Debate DeReview

If you suffered through that snoozer of a debate on my recommendation, you have my apologies. Rumors of kitchen sinks were greatly exaggerated.

In the end, no candidate tried to make this debate part of their final push to win Iowa. Why did they refrain from sink-throwing? I’ll have my answer at the end of today’s post.

Muted and mixed debate reviews abound across the internet. I think I’ve seen five of the six candidates declared as the “winner” of the debate (all but Tom Steyer), whereas I’ve seen every candidate declared the “loser” (very much including Tom Steyer). Only polling will be the true judge, but my expectation is that polls will not be too affected by this uninspiring final debate before voting begins.

Anyway, here were my main takeaways for each candidate. (Transcript here.)

Tom Steyer

Right around 10:00 I dozed off for ten minutes, and I’m almost positive Tom Steyer is the reason why. He often starts a response with, “I agree with _________,” which, I recall, was my go-to line while I sat on my home town’s Board of Education and didn’t know what to say. (Similarly, I also led the Board in “Seconding” motions. The only motions I initiated were the ones to end the meeting.)

His penchant for staring right through the camera also jumped a level. During one response, the control room director got creeped out a bit and went to a different camera, and it took Steyer about 0.45 seconds to go find the new one and lock eyes with it. One of these days he’s coming through the TV screen like that girl at the end of The Ring.

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Saturday Special: PPFA’s December Debate Review

The busy holiday season is here, which, combined with a hectic day at my real job, dashed my hope for a Quick Hit Friday review of the sixth Democratic debate. With an extra day to piece this together, please accept this extended Saturday special instead.

If you had 9:22 EST in your office pool for when Thursday night’s debate would move from snoozefest to slugfest… congratulations! You nailed it. The first 80 minutes or so produced polished talking points but few sparks. The next 80, however, practically engulfed the stage in flames. We’re starting to see the Iowa caucuses rising in the horizon, and this is the first debate where candidates most visibly jockeyed for position coming into the home stretch — three candidates in particular.

Here are my takeaways from the last Democratic debate of 2019. (Transcript here.)

Tom Steyer had his best debate… and perhaps his last.

Steyer found ways to be more direct with his messaging on Thursday. In fact, as I took notes on him throughout the night, I kept summarizing his responses with, “I’m different!” This theme culminated with his closing statement, which actually started with the words, “I’m different from everybody else on this stage.” All night, he emphasized that he’s a true liberal who also has experience growing considerable wealth in the private sector, which is indeed a unique resume for the debate’s candidates and, he suggests, the necessary Democratic response against the Republican billionaire in the White House. (Notably, he had to include the words “on this stage,” because we know there’s a looming billionaire who sees Steyer’s so-called wealth of just 1.6 billion dollars and responds with some version of, “That’s adorable.”)

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Instructive March Polls for 2020: Day Four — Bernie Sanders’s Viability

Author’s note: This will make more sense if you read Monday’s post: Percentage completion of March: 87 Percent progress to February’s Visitor number: 86!! This week I’m deploying a desperate attempt to reach February’s Visitor count by doing one short … Continue reading Instructive March Polls for 2020: Day Four — Bernie Sanders’s Viability

One Year Until We Know the Democratic Nominee: PPFA’s First 2020 Power Ranking

The Democratic Primary’s “Super Tuesday” will be held on March 3, 2020. In the largest single-day delegate allocation of the primary, at least ten states will go to the polls, including delegate-rich California and Texas. I expect, therefore, that on March … Continue reading One Year Until We Know the Democratic Nominee: PPFA’s First 2020 Power Ranking