Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is almost certainly not going to win the Democratic nomination–because the fix is in–but cash is one thing the avowed socialist has plenty of.
As of Thursday morning, the Vermont senator’s campaign said it had pulled in more than $39.7 million, and urging supporters to chip in to surpass the nearly $43.5 million they donated in February. All told, he will have raised an eye-popping $100 million so far in 2016.
The question is, what’s the old kook going to do with all that moola?
According to the latest estimates, Clinton has 1,243 pledged delegates and Sanders has 980. The delegates from the March 26 contests haven’t been fully allocated yet, but it looks like Sanders will need somewhere around 57 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to catch up to Clinton before the convention.
This is a high bar for him because, as Clinton strategist Joel Benenson repeated multiple times on a conference call with reporters Monday, Sanders is “running out of real estate.” In other words, he doesn’t have many more large, favorable states left on the calendar.
If we think the Republicans have created a nomination nightmare for second-place contenders, that’s nothing compared to the Democrats, who practically coronated Hillary before a single vote was cast.
The Sanders campaign has also talked about getting super-delegates to shift their support to him at the convention. If he can catch up to Clinton in the pledged delegate race, he might be able to do that. But most of the super-delegates are already in her camp, and it would take a serious shock (e.g. a criminal indictment) for them to decide it’s necessary to overturn a clear primary win for the front-runner.
Although the indictment could happen, it probably won’t (or it would have already). It’s just not in the cards for Bernie.
But his cash haul sends a demographic message to the Democrats, one that Republicans should not ignore.
Sanders’s appeal to young voters — an appeal a future candidate might mimic — is partially based on policy. Many young people were rocked by the Great Recession and have no Cold War era gag reflex when it comes to terms like “socialism.” That makes voters this age warmer to very liberal economic policies. But I would bet — and I’m stepping out of the data and into my own experience for a moment — that Sanders’s style also plays a role. People my age have been the target of a ceaseless stream of ads (TV, Internet, etc.) since birth, and most of them (including many political ones) reek of 50-year-old advertising pros who think millennials buy anything that has a meme and some Internet slang attached to it. I would guess that Sanders’s unvarnished, on-message, issues-only style appeals to people my age by providing a break from that. Some future progressive candidate might do well by imitating that style.
A future liberal candidate would also want to win liberal voters — some of whom are young, but some of whom are older. Not surprisingly, Sanders has done very well with this group.
The word “socialism” has lost its boogeyman quality to these young people who grew up with No Child Left Behind, Hope scholarships, Obama phones, and heathcare as a right. Basically, they see daddy-nanny-government as the way things should be, and the left is happy to hand them even more goodies.
Even Trump likes to play candyman (“nobody will die in the street”).
The fact that so much money has poured in to a candidate whose premise is to tax anyone earning a moderately good salary into oblivion signals a very disaffected youth and young parents realizing they may not get the house and two kids like today’s 40-somethings have.
We (me being among the last of the baby boomers) have screwed them and they know it. Sanders’ appeal is just the beginning of the trend, if conservatives can’t force-feed a government grown fat and comfortable some very bitter medicine.