Could Bernie Sanders be viable in SC? The gut says ‘no,’ but there are now reasons to consider the possibility

Something just struck me, in the middle of a conversation with a longtime colleague about the upcoming primaries…

After a period several months ago when it looked like Hillary Clinton was in real trouble, and Joe Biden was doing his Hamlet routine (to run… or not to run), the once and future front-runner regained control, and Joe stayed out. Consequently, since that point in the fall, we’ve been back to assuming Hillary is inevitable. Especially in South Carolina, where Democrats tend to be a bit less, you know, socialistic.

But consider this…

She and Bernie Sanders are pretty much neck-and-neck in both Iowa and New Hampshire at the moment. That kind of mo is very good for Sanders this late in the game, and horrible for Clinton.

It has people such as Chris Cillizza at The Fix saying:

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine it’s Feb. 10. In the past nine days, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) has beaten his Democratic presidential challenger Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. There won’t be another vote for 10 more days (Nevada), and then it’ll be another week until South Carolina, the last of the big four early states, votes.

That scenario would be a total nightmare for Clinton. Period. It’s also a lot more likely to go from fantasy to reality than most people — including most establishment Democrats — understand….

Which raises the question: Could Bernie Sanders come from way behind to win the South Carolina primary?

The temptation is to say NO WAY. Democrats here tend to love them some Clintons. (Except if they are named Dick Harpootlian, or James Smith, or… you know what? There were a bunch of people looking around for alternatives, up until the time Biden definitely said no.)

But think about eight years ago: South Carolina was Clinton country then, too. There were a lot of black Democrats who thought the idea of Barack Obama as nominee sounded good, but they didn’t believe in it as a real possibility.

Then he won Iowa. Which meant white folks would vote for him, despite many doubts before that.

But then Hillary won New Hampshire, barely, after much sweat and some tears.

And yet the Iowa result was enough to seal the deal for Obama, and he picked up the further momentum he needed right here in SC.

What if… and as Cillizza says, this is now less crazy than it may sound… Sanders won both Iowa and New Hampshire?

It… could… happen.

Sure, the dynamics would be different. That rush of good feeling about maybe nominating the first black president would be absent.

But it’s worth thinking about now…

10 thoughts on “Could Bernie Sanders be viable in SC? The gut says ‘no,’ but there are now reasons to consider the possibility

  1. Bill

    The more you think about Hillary and Bill being back in the White House,the more surreal and a bad idea it seems.Not much problem with their politics,but not a weird David Lynch-like rerun I want to see…

  2. Juan Caruso

    “Could Bernie Sanders come from way behind to win the South Carolina primary?”

    Of course anything is possible, but the probability for such a result in S.C. is. well, beyond miniscule. Why? Because only our open primaries have determined real possibilities, and, S.C. attorneys who have reliably voted in Republican primaries (R.I.N.O.s + Lindsey Graham egotist ne’er–do–wells) will not alter their habit to vote for Clinton. Don’t believe this? — note bene!

    What about women lawyers like birthday girl? Oh, Clinton will certainlyl have their vote, but in the larger picture that is miniscule. Sorry to burst the “Communitarian” (socialist) bubble for the naive.

  3. Phillip

    As much as I would love to see that scenario, there is no scenario I can imagine in which Bernie wins the SC primary. Momentum from him winning Iowa and/or NH would at most have effect of fewer Dems crossing over to try to help hang the albatross Trump around the neck of the GOP by voting for him in the (presumably more competitive side of the) primary, or possibly to increase the momentum for a late-entry Democrat to rescue the party from a very damaged Hillary candidacy.

    But most likely of all is that the Dem party apparatus would pull out all the stops and all the money to put up a SC firewall for Hillary against Bernie.

  4. Mark Stewart

    Biden really blew it. He could have just idled along, nominally on the campaign trail. That’s all it would have taken to win.

    Maybe Romney will try again? Or are Trump and Bernie going to end up on a Populist card? Something strange is surely about to drop on this campaign season. There isn’t a serious candidate, who can get any traction, in the race – on either side. I don’t think the race has actually even begun; it it might not even get going in earnest until after the SC primaries in fact.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You know, this year doesn’t feel like either 2012 or 2008 — which are the only presidential years since I’ve been blogging. By now, there should be a fever pitch of interest, on my part and on the parts of my readers.

      But it’s just not there.

      And I think it’s because the choices are so dispiriting.

      I think I’ll make this into a separate post, in fact…

    2. Juan Caruso

      “Something strange is surely about to drop on this campaign season. ” With you on that sentiment, Mark,
      but Biden certainly has not b;own his shot, not yet at least.

      Veep Biden won support of women when he decided not contesting Hillary’s candidacy with his own run.

      Moreover, I had predicted on this blog a couple of months ago that Sen Lindsey Graham would drop out before April if he learned Hillary was going to be indicted or become medically unfit for office. Lindsey entered the presidential race to get national name recognition to be publicly viable as Hillary’s secretary of Defense, (an appointment otherwise unavailable to Lindsey under a traditional Republican president). A retired Republican Colonel with a Bronze Star would be a shoe-in appointment, however, were Hillary to be elected.

      So, does Lindsey know something about the future of Hillary’s candidacy? Not only did Graham drop out of a race he spent almost nothing to envigorate, but ex-NAVSec Jim Webb started entertaining an independent run. independent. So, do they both know something inevitable is about to occur? “Something strange is surely about to drop on this campaign season” may become an understatement.

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    FYI, y’all, I got this response from Stephanie Formas with the Clinton campaign in SC:

    Hey Brad – First, Happy New Year and happy 47 days until (Dem) election day! I saw your blog and thought I would flag a few items for you on background!

    James Smith actually endorsed Hillary:

    Obama vs. Clinton polling in 2008 was neck & neck starting in November/December

    While there are a number of community leaders that have supported Hillary, our strength is will our ground game led by volunteers ….We’ve now had more than 1600 campaign events, reached out to 250K unique South Carolinians, and have thousands of active volunteers – those who have completed a shift.

    Memo from November but key points still there-

  6. clark surratt

    Don’t believe momentum etc. will mean much in Democratic primary here in S.C. Clinton is the anointed person among the Dems main base here (primarily blacks), and that ship has sailed. She wins easily.

  7. Jennie

    I am a life long conservative who LOVES Bernie Sanders. Why? Because I have a severely disabled daughter. She needs medical cannabis. Bernie isn’t against medical cannabis. I can’t find a job. I’m broke. I need education. I can’t afford an education. I”m tired of the rich getting richer. I’m done with the Republican party. Pro life? That was why I was conservative. No more. What difference does it make to be pro life if Republicans are against helping the life once it’s out of the womb? Republicans cut the budget of all the programs for disabled and vets!

    Hillary Clinton is nothing but scandal. Scandal. Scandal. I’m so tired of this woman. She’s nothing but trouble. We need focus. Clarity. Bernie Sanders is without scandal. He’s a clean cut nice man who cares about people. When a reporter nearly fainted near him, Bernie rushed to her side. He is a GENUINE PERSON. Clinton is cold and phony. She can’t be trusted. BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT. Get out there South Carolina and VOTE. Bernie Sanders will fix this system and bring justice to the American People. FEEL THE BERN


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