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Can Sanders Do it?

After creating a massive movement of younger Americans in the 2016 Democratic primaries, Bernie Sanders can no longer be ignored. The democratic socialist US senator from Vermont has offered a comprehensive economic-policy program that has already expanded the public’s notion of the possible.

AUSTIN – US Senator Bernie Sanders has emerged as a plausible Democratic nominee for president in 2020. This has been clear for some time to those paying attention to his organization and fundraising, and to the sequence of the early primaries, where small states (New Hampshire) favor him by geography and large ones (California) favor him by name recognition. The New York Times, Politico, and quotable Democratic Party insiders all now admit that Sanders may well be the party’s nominee to face President Donald Trump in November.

If nominated, Sanders has a fighting chance of being elected. In fact, his chances may be better than any of the other primary contenders, considering the states and voters that he would need to tip back into the Democratic column. According to the RealClearPolitics compilation of national polls, Sanders has held a consistent lead for nearly a year, with only a brief interruption in December 2019, when Trump benefited from a transient backlash against his impeachment. His nine-point lead over Trump in a hypothetical matchup is the largest among the remaining Democratic candidates. More important, Sanders is well positioned to take back a sufficient number of working-class voters in the critical states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Is Sanders a plausible president? Leave aside the fact that Trump himself is the least plausible president the United States has ever had. Sanders would bring to the job 40 years of experience as an elected official and intimate direct knowledge of Capitol Hill and the workings of the federal government; his legislative experience is rivaled only by that of former US Senator Joe Biden, and it is more recent. But Sanders is also an idealist, capable of embracing positions well to the left of the prevailing political mainstream. That is very much to his advantage in the Democratic primary, and it might not even hurt him in the peculiarly polarized circumstances of this year’s election.

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