News and Commentary

Bernie Sanders Did Not Expand The Electorate, Lost Moderates, Women, Older Voters
MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE - FEBRUARY 07: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participates in the presidential primary debate in the Sullivan Arena at St. Anselm College on February 07, 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Seven candidates qualified for the second Democratic presidential primary debate of 2020 which comes just days before the New Hampshire primary on February 11. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) needs to show he can expand the Democratic electorate in order to make a convincing case that he could take on President Donald Trump effectively. But if Iowa is any indication, the Vermont socialist is not on track to achieve his goal.

Yahoo News reported, ahead of the Iowa caucus, that Sanders was “banking” on a win in the state and an “expanded electorate” on top of his “solid base,” giving him momentum heading into more contentious primaries.

But while Sanders is coming out of Iowa with a win (though, oddly, not the most delegates, because of a strange quirk in the Iowa caucus system), it does not appear that the Vermont socialist made a dent in President Donald Trump’s key demographics or, for that matter, among Democrats who weren’t already self-described Bernie-acs.

NBC News reports that Sanders had “limited crossover appeal” in Iowa.

“He might have met expectations, but he certainly didn’t exceed them,” the outlet says. “Turnout was lower than expected. And the entrance poll showed him with limited crossover appeal outside of his young, very liberal base.”

“Sanders got just 8 percent support from Iowa caucus-goers 45 and older,” NBC says. “And among seniors 65-plus, it was just 4 percent.” Worse still, Sanders underperformed among self-described “moderates” and those who call themselves “somewhat liberal,” — two key audiences for Trump’s economic policies, especially in the all-important battleground states.

He’s also having a hard time putting together the same coalition of Democratic voters that united behind Hillary Clinton — and that includes an inability to motivate young, college educated white women, who have been the main motivating force against Trump.

The “Women’s March” crowd was instrumental in handing the House back to Democrats in 2018, and have been pressing leftward movement within the Democratic party. When it comes to Bernie Sanders, though, they seem to draw the line, particularly if they cast a hopeful vote for Clinton back in 2016: “[Sanders] won more than half of the Iowa caucus-goers who said they supported him in 2016. But he barely registered (7 percent) among the 54 percent of all Iowa caucus-goers who said they backed Hillary Clinton four years ago.”

Overall, turnout for the Iowa caucus was low, giving the most dedicated Sanders supporters an outsized impact on the nomination process.

That’s tough news for Democrats who are witnessing a Sanders surge. He’s set to win the New Hampshire primary and will likely do well in Nevada and South Carolina. A Bernie Sanders presidential nomination is now, for better or worse, a potential reality for the Democratic party, and Democratic voters aren’t enthusiastic about it.

Democrats, though, are in a tough situation. Sanders may not pick up crossover voters, but if he doesn’t snag the nomination — and, particularly, if it seems the DNC deliberately shut him out of the process — his voters aren’t likely to show up to the polls in November. CNN reports that Sanders’ supporters have been employing “aggressive tactics” online and in real life, essentially bullying his detractors out of the public square, and demanding Sanders be nominated.

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