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Why Bernie?

If US Senator Bernie Sanders is the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, he could win in November for any number of reasons. The US electorate is almost evenly divided regardless of candidate, swing voters are unpredictable, electoral math is tricky, Donald Trump has plenty of weaknesses, and a lot can happen between now and then.

JACKSON, WYOMING – For the last 50 years, almost every US presidential election has brought a new swing of the national political pendulum. Richard Nixon’s shifty administration gave way, after Gerald Ford was in office long enough to pardon his former boss, to the choirboy Jimmy Carter. Four years later, in rode Ronald Reagan, and then, following George H.W. Bush’s one-term interregnum, came America’s first baby boomer president, Bill Clinton. An impeached (but brainy) philanderer, Clinton was succeed by Bush’s son, the moralizing and anti-intellectual George W. Bush, who then gave way to the Spock-like Barack Obama, before the pendulum’s widening swing extended all the way to the unprecedented fringe of Donald Trump.

So, is it any wonder that as the Democrats muddle through their nominating contest, their most extreme candidate is running away with the race? After the Nevada caucuses, US Senator Bernie Sanders has more than just wind at his back. He represents exactly the type of partisan reaction to Trump that should be expected, and he is the latest manifestation of the national political pendulum’s steepening arc. Sanders, a lifelong socialist who has never joined the Democratic Party, embodies the opposite of America’s 1980s-style, greed-is-good incumbent.

Why has the arc of the United States’ electoral swings become so wide?

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