Bernie’s Surprising Comeback

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., laughs at a campaign event earlier this month. Sanders taped an appearance on the Ellen show, where he showed a lighter side

Hillary, you’re making me out to look like a liar.

A few weeks ago I said that Hillary Clinton was going to walk into the Democratic nomination. After key landslide wins in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington this past weekend Bernie Sanders narrowed his delegate deficit with Hillary Clinton. Sanders has shown that he is not out of the race yet and is making the Democratic nomination much more exciting than we had originally thought. Sanders now has 1,038 delegates, closing the gap between him and Clinton’s 1,266 delegates to 228. Senator Sanders has not been shy to say that he has the momentum and he shouldn’t be as he has won 5 out of the last six states. Sanders is even gaining the support of celebrities. This past week Sarah Silverman released a viral video explaining why she switched her support form Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders. What happened in the Democratic race and why has this independent Vermont Senator gained ground on a seemingly insurmountable by Clinton?

Michigan. The Michigan Primary on March 8 is what initiated the comeback for Sanders. On the night of the primary Nate Silver, editor in chief FiveThirtyEight, wrote, “If Sanders winds up winning in Michigan, in fact, it will count as among the greatest polling errors in primary history.” As we now know, Sanders completed the upset and exemplified how flawed political polls can be. At the time of the primary, Clinton was ahead by 21 points and Sanders had less than a 1% chance of winning. The polls grossly underestimated youth turnout, a category which Sanders has dominated throughout his campaign. According to exit polls voters 18 to 30 made up as large of a percentage as voters 65 and older. Sanders earned 81% of the votes from the 18 to 29 year olds. Sanders’s ability to generate youth turnout is what could earn him the democratic nomination, even if it is a longshot. In addition to his domination among youth voters, Sanders gained the support of many black voters as well. Sanders has won less than 20% of the black vote in states with large black populations, but won 28% of that vote in Michigan. If Sanders can create a trend of this he can cut into Clinton’s lead in a meaningful way.

The appeal of Bernie Sanders seems to be that he is not a corporate sellout. According to The New York Times, Sanders has obtained less than 1% of his campaign contributions from Super PACs while Hillary Clinton had gained more than $55 million from super-PACs. Sanders boasts that he earns most of his money through small individual donations gaining over $94 million. In October, Sanders broke the record set by Obama in 2012 for reaching one million donations faster than any other candidate. Sanders’s average campaign contribution is around $25. Sanders has raised enough money to stay in the nomination race all the way to the Democratic convention. Sarah Silverman perfectly explains why it matters that Sanders is refusing to take money from super-PACs while Clinton profits from them. In her video she notes, “[Clinton] takes a lot of money from big corporations and banks, the very people she says she’s going to stand up to.” The only persons Sanders will have to answer to is the public, the same public that funded his campaign.

Sanders has a difficult path to the nomination looking forward with only two caucuses left. Sanders dominates caucuses, but does not do well in primaries. This may be because you have to wait much longer to vote in caucuses to vote than you do in primaries. Sanders has much more “die-hard” fans than Hillary does. The two caucuses that are left are Wyoming and North Dakota so even if Sanders were to win those two states they would not make up a large enough chunk of delegates that Sanders needs to close the gap (Here is the full primary calendar). The next two primaries, which are in Wisconsin and New York, are key for Sanders to stay in the race. Sanders is predicted to narrowly win in Wisconsin, but is expected to lose big in New York. One thing that can save Sanders in New York is a debate before the primary. Sanders scores very well in debates compared to Clinton and gains momentum going into primaries from them, this accounted for another reason Sanders won Michigan. Clinton’s campaign understands this and is avoiding a debate as much as possible, but news outlets are calling for a face-off between the two before the primary on April 19. Sanders, who grew up in Brooklyn, needs to limit Clinton’s win or win New York himself to earn a chunk of the 247 pledged delegates and continue his momentum.

Republicans still understand who their enemy is as the conservative super-PAC, American Crossroads, unveiled a new anti-Clinton campaign called #NeverHillary. The campaign also released a short video clip picturing the list of scandals the Clintons have been a part of. This could bode well for Sanders as many social media users are jumping on the hashtag. Elsewhere in the Republican party, Donald Trump said that women who option for abortion should face “some form of punishment”. How this man will be the Republican nomination still amazes me.

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