For what little NH is worth, Bernie got CRUSHED by the moderates


My NYT app this morning.

One can sometimes see why there are so many people in this country who can’t stand the news media.

I can get pretty peeved with them myself these days.

There are two phenomena that particularly irritating. Or maybe they’re just one:

  1. They have the attention span of goldfish.
  2. They have a mental block that keeps them from seeing the larger picture.

The last two weeks, it has been astounding the degree to which the media — both straight news and opinion — have been trapped in what’s happening right this second. It has always been thus, but the pace of reporting and the orientation toward social media has made the problem far, far worse.

Instead of a considered, consistent narrative over time, the picture we get of what’s happening is so immediate, it has no value beyond a few moments:

  • There are no results from Iowa!
  • There are still no results from Iowa!
  • Iowa is a disaster! This is the death of the Iowa caucuses!
  • No one should ever see results from Iowa as meaning anything again!
  • Wait! There are results from Iowa! Pete won!
  • No! Maybe Bernie won! This is hugely significant!
  • One thing’s for sure: Biden is toast!
  • Iowa didn’t settle anything, but New Hampshire will!
  • Oh, look, Bernie won! Bernie is triumphant! It’s settled! This is over!
  • No, wait! Klobuchar came in third! This is the big news!
  • One thing’s for sure: Since New Hampshire settles everything, Biden is toast!

Meanwhile, Biden was having a very nice rally here in Columbia before an enthusiastic crowd. And as a Biden support, I would prefer that he had done better among those uber-white people in Iowa and New Hampshire, but as far as I’m concerned, the race is just getting started.

Of course, when Joe wins here, we’ll be seeing:

  • A miracle! Biden’s not toast at all! He won one!
  • But he’s still damaged! Some black voters voted for other people!
  • Also, South Carolina means nothing because it’s TOO black!

And so forth.

And then, Super Tuesday will roll around, and South Carolina will be forgotten and it will be all about Bloomberg or something.

That’s the goldfish part.

The other thing is that so many people out there seem incapable of seeing what happens in this brief moments within any sort of larger context.

My favorite example of that today is a headline that trumpets, “Bernie Sanders Has Already Won,” followed by the subhead, “Whether he captures the White House or not, he has transformed the Democratic Party.”

Uh… no, he hasn’t. First, he didn’t do nearly as well as he did four years ago. I think it’s early to completely dismiss him, but if you go by that one bit of info, his time may have passed.

Second, and most importantly, if we’re going to draw conclusions based on something as thin as the New Hampshire vote, consider: The three candidates appealing to the moderates who utterly reject Bernie’s revolution got a total of 52.6 percent of the vote, compared to Bernie’s 25.7 percent.

They crushed him. They demolished him. They utterly rejected him. Even if you give him Elizabeth Warren’s 9 percent on the assumption that her voters might switch to Bernie, he got massacred.

The real story here is that the moderates just can’t make up their minds. If and when they do, we won’t be hearing any more about the triumph of Bernie.

I — and a lot of voters here in South Carolina — still believe that they would be wisest to line up behind Biden because he’s the one most likely to beat Trump. And nothing is more important than that.

They just haven’t wanted to accept that yet. I get it. I like Pete and Amy, too. But I’m going with the guy most likely to win. And I still remain hopeful that other moderates — sensible folk that they are — will reach that conclusion, too.

6 thoughts on “For what little NH is worth, Bernie got CRUSHED by the moderates

  1. Bryan Caskey

    I agree that your math of roughly 53% split among “moderates” and 33% to Bernie is a theoretical rejection of Bernie. However, that’s not how it works in the real world. If the three candidates of Amy, Pete, and Biden keep dividing the 53%, they’re all going to keep finishing behind Bernie.

    It’s kind of what happened to the GOP in 2016. All the normal candidates kept splitting the same votes, leaving Trump to keep finishing first with the highest plurality. Now, the rules are a bit different for Democrats, with the delegates being apportioned, rather than the GOP winner take all method, but the same problem still remains.

    If the Amy, Pete, Biden voters don’t coalesce, Bernie is going to end up with the most delegates at the end of the process. What then?

    Your support for Biden seems (in part) based on your opinion that he has the best chance to beat Trump in the general election. Fine. What about the Klobuchar or Buttigieg supporters who think their preferred candidate has the best chance?

    That’s sort of the problem with voting for the candidate you think has the best chance to win the general – it’s a moving target. Best thing to do is for the Democrats to vote for the person who they think best represents them, inspires the most voters, and stick with that person.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      As for this: “What about the Klobuchar or Buttigieg supporters who think their preferred candidate has the best chance?”

      I think you’re seeing a mixture of two impulses. All year, we’ve been reading about how Democrats are pulled in two directions — whether to vote for the candidate they LIKE most, or the candidate they think can WIN.

      Sure, some of those Klobuchar and Buttigieg supporters may think their candidate is more likely to win, but I submit that an awful lot of them are supporting them because that’s the candidate they LIKE.

      Me, I’ve never been tormented like those poor people. The candidate I LIKE most (by far) and the candidate I think most likely to win are the same person…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    “If the three candidates of Amy, Pete, and Biden keep dividing the 53%, they’re all going to keep finishing behind Bernie.”

    Yes, but at some point, there won’t be three of them.

    And my point is that the other guy’s point is wrong: Bernie hasn’t captured the Democratic Party. If anything, his influence has diminished since 2016…

    1. Bryan Caskey

      “Yes, but at some point, there won’t be three of them”

      In other words, beating Bernie will require all but one of these people to drop out, and soon. I don’t think any of the three are going to do that.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, as the race moves to South Carolina, there’s one thing I’m worried about, and it’s not Bernie or Pete.

    It’s Tom Steyer, who has been making MAJOR moves on Joe’s base in recent days. It was one thing to hire Jerry Govan for $43,000. It’s startling to see he’s signed on Gilda Cobb-Hunter, especially given her history with Govan:

    COLUMBIA, S.C. — Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer has hired one of South Carolina’s most influential black lawmakers as an adviser to his campaign as the billionaire businessman tries to make inroads in a state where black voters will play a dominant role in the Feb. 29 primary.

    Steyer’s campaign told The Associated Press on Wednesday that state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter has signed on as a senior national adviser. Cobb-Hunter, who first took office in 1992, is the longest serving member of the South Carolina House and is the current president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators….

    It’s not that I think Steyer can win South Carolina. It’s that he could peel off enough votes from Joe that either he doesn’t win here decisively, or even loses (which I doubt).

    Basically, it feels like Steyer is going all-out in South Carolina to be a spoiler, and bring down Joe by hitting him where he’s strongest…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Also surprising, but maybe it’s just that I haven’t talked with Gilda lately, is that she’d pick Steyer on political grounds. Ideologically, I see her as being more in the Sanders or Warren camp…


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