This Sunday, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden will take part in a one-on-one debate in Washington DC; it will likely be Sen. Sanders’s last chance to sway older voters and reverse his fortunes in the Democratic primaries. If you believe in Bernie’s ability to do so, his political betting odds have rarely been more favorable.
The showdown was initially scheduled to take place in Arizona. It was even changed to be a town hall setup before the coronavirus pandemic altered the complexion of the 2020 presidential election cycle. Now, there will be no studio audience when the two meet – likely for the last time – on stage.
- Date: March 15, 2020, at 8:00 p.m. ET
- Location: Washington, D.C.
- Partners: CNN, Univision, and CHC Bold
- Moderators: Dana Bash, Jake Tapper, and Ilia Calderón
|Candidate||DNC Nomination Odds|
Following the March 10 primary contests, Joe Biden became the prohibitive favorite to become the next Democratic nominee. Mississippi, Missouri, Michigan, and Idaho were called for the former Vice President, while Sanders won North Dakota. At the time of writing this (3/13), Washington has not been decided and is too close to call.
By Tuesday night, some in the liberal punditry class were calling for – if not outright expecting – Sen. Sanders to drop out of the race.
Instead, he held a press conference that Wednesday, declaring his intention to face Joe Biden in Sunday’s debate, giving him one last public opportunity to demonstrate the contrast between the two candidates’ policy platforms and mental acuity.
Bernie’s Speech Announcing He’d Stay in the Race:
Sunday’s showdown was scheduled to take place in Arizona, but the rapidly escalating coronavirus pandemic necessitated a change in plans. Some establishment neoliberals expressed the desire to shut down the debate and remaining primaries, handing the nomination to Biden, but that’s been roundly rejected by Sanders’s team.
Between the one-on-one format and terrifying outbreak, Bernie has been gifted one last shot to take “his long-time friend” down. Since the pandemic announcement, the popularity of Medicare for All – and several other Sanders proposals, such as paid sick time – have increased enthusiastically among Democratic and Independent voters.
“Moments like these don’t come around often in campaigns, and this is a perfect opportunity to show millions that you have what it takes,” said Robert Gibbs, a former campaign adviser to Obama / White House Press Secretary. “They must show voters they are the answer to what is missing right now by being calm, honest, ready to lead, and empathetic.”
What remains to be seen is how aggressively Sen. Sanders is willing to attack Biden’s history or current cognitive concerns. If he’s ready to vicious – which he’s shown no signs of, thus far – Bernie would be smart to highlight these recent comments from his opponent – in which Joe says he’d veto Medicare for All if given the opportunity as President.
Biden Says He’ll Veto Medicare for All:
The coronavirus pandemic reaching the United States significantly alters the dynamics of the race. Before, Democratic voters were faced with a strong incumbent President, riding an all-time best national GDP, low – but deceiving – unemployment numbers, and record-high approval ratings into the general elections.
Now, the economy is collapsing, and Trump has come under tremendous heat for his perceived delays responding to the outbreak. Whether the steps he’s taken have been enough is yet to be seen. Still, most signs point to America’s medical system being woefully unprepared to face the rapidly approaching healthcare crisis.
Sen. Sanders’s Coronavirus Address:
In addition to Trump’s new vulnerabilities, the electorate now has another factor to consider when choosing their candidate. Medicare for All might be a secondary concern under normal conditions, but it’s no longer just an ideological difference.
With each passing day, more citizens are confronted with the reality that they may be dealing with a highly infectious, dangerous disease any day now. The private sector has done a miserable job acquiring medical supplies, supermarkets are being cleaned out by panicked people, and over 86-million Americans are either uninsured or under-insured.
A government plan for all instead of private insurance,#Washington:
Support 63% (+33)
Support 60% (+25)
Support 58% (+21)
Support 58% (+20)
Oppose 38%@CNN Exit Pollshttps://t.co/sjyDdhHNMa https://t.co/gUoGsHg8xQ
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) March 11, 2020
Yet, while the government is dragging their feet when it comes to providing a safety net for the workers of America, people are seeing the Fed inject trillions in cash into the stock market on behalf of Wall St and offering to bail out cruise ships, hotels, and airlines.
The stock market crash has already generated numerous layoffs throughout the country. Plus, with self-quarantines and social distancing in effect – and more aggressive measures expected to be enacted soon – gig workers and voters living paycheck-to-paycheck are being shown how precarious their current financial situation is under these new circumstances.
It just so happens that the guy people have been calling less “electable” has been championing the very measures that would bring workers peace under such a pandemic for decades now. “Democratic Socialism” looks much less threatening when you’re not sure whether you’re infected or not, can’t afford to miss a shift, and might not have too many more paychecks coming your way.
The coronavirus crisis is driving big shifts in public opinion.
A new poll asked voters if it made them *more or less likely to support proposals where all Americans would get their health insurance from the govt.*
All adults: +29
— Kai Newkirk #NotMeUs (@kai_newkirk) March 15, 2020
Sanders has continuously advocated for Medicare for All – which would allow citizens to get tested and treated at no cost — two federally mandated weeks of sick time, better unemployment insurance, and more robust centralized governmental programs. Federal programs that are available to act in response to unexpected emergencies, like the coronavirus pandemic quickly.
Joe Biden has historically been in opposition to all these things. Based on his voting record, he’s more of a Republican than what many people would consider traditional Democratic ideals. However, that’s no guarantee that this evolving crisis will change a significant percentage of voters’ minds.
Thus far, Biden has been remarkably resilient to embarrassing gaffes and ideological differences. For example, Medicare for All’s popularity in primary states has repeatedly polled much higher than Sanders’s vote totals would suggest. Exit polls will show single-payer healthcare as extremely popular in a state, then Joe will go on to win by double-digit margins.
In a bizarre, meandering livestream put on by Joe Biden's campaign today, he forgets what year it is and when, if he doesn't lose, he would be in office.
At another point, he seemingly forgets he's on a live stream and walks out of frame. The feed cuts away to a logo instead. pic.twitter.com/yM2zFoBfhv
— jordan (@JordanUhl) March 14, 2020
- Joe Biden – 884 pledged delegates
- Bernie Sanders – 726 pledged delegates
The delegate counts show Joe Biden in a comfortable lead, having already won multiple states expected to be sure things for the Vermont Senator. Nevertheless, only half of the total number of pledged delegates available have been distributed.
Think of the current stage of the race as Biden enjoying a 28-point lead heading into an NFL halftime. We’ve seen miraculous second-half comebacks – they do happen from time to time – but not very often. That said, Barack Obama was losing by a similar margin to Hillary Clinton in 2008 before pulling off a dramatic come-from-behind victory of his own.
Echos of 2016
While Sunday’s debate could be a gamechanger for Bernie Sanders, he’ll have to do more than win the argument. Older and/or suburban voters are so terrified of Donald Trump, and the media has them so convinced that Biden is the safer, “electable” option to remove him, that most are beyond being able to be persuaded to change their minds.
It doesn’t matter that the former VP is clearly showing alarming signs of mental decline, including repeatedly exploding at Democratic voters’ relatively benign questions.
The latest eruption, showed Biden telling an auto worker that he’s “full of s***,” “shushing” his female handler, and allegedly threatening to slap the man:
In most election years, this video alone would be enough to sink a candidate permanently. In essence, it’s probably the eighth example of an outburst that nobody else would ever be allowed to live down.
- Been caught lying about having been arrested in South Africa trying to visit Nelson Mandela.
- Falsely claimed to have marched in the civil rights movement – also verified to be untrue.
- And, lied on a virtual town hall about having sponsored the Endangered Species Act.
Bernie’s only shot at changing the dynamics of this Democratic primary is to confront Joe Biden with every one of these falsehoods in a direct and confrontational manner, and for the American public to witness the former VP fall apart under pressure in an undeniably obvious way. Anything less will be denied or ignored by the media, and the electorate will remain unphased.
Another reason Sunday’s debate must be such a resounding triumph for Bernie is that – based on some disturbing reoccurrences I’ve noticed — he’ll need to overcome more than the hearts and minds of Democratic voters.
Exit Poll Discrepancies
Throughout my coverage of the Democratic primaries, I’ve repeatedly commented that ”Bernie Sanders will not be allowed to be President of the United States.” I haven’t been wording it that way because I think voters are rejecting him or that he’s merely getting mistreated by the mainstream media – though, you could argue that those things are valid too.
I use that language because I have very little faith in the integrity of our current political system and – quite frankly – think there’s too much money on the line for wealthy individuals and corporations for them not to use every tool at their disposal.
It’s bad enough that the polling stations at colleges and in counties populated by high volumes of young or minority voters have consistently forced voters to wait for several hours to cast their ballot or that numerous locations have been shut down. Beyond those traditional forms of voter suppression, we’ve seen similar inconsistencies between the exit polls and outcomes as we did in 2016.
Now, there are plenty of arguments against the accuracy of exit polling. Still, some glaring patterns make it highly unlikely that there isn’t a systematic effort to flip votes from Bernie Sanders to Joe Biden, or others.
This Whistleblower Details How Computerized Vote Tabulators are Changed to Flip Votes:
For example, every state that uses unobservable computer counters shows Sanders doing significantly worse than the exit polls suggest. Meanwhile, the regions in which there’s an observable paper trail consistently record a much smaller margin of difference.
In case we didn’t see this look at these numbers. And the time stamp. This is reminiscent of 2016. If they can do this without any sort of accountability, guess what? They’ll keep doing it. It’s long been time to call for recounts and investigations. #ElectionIntegrity pic.twitter.com/LFaM2vTbrR
— FiorellaITSRIGGEDIsabel?? (@Fiorella_im) March 12, 2020
TX: Bernie –11.8%; Biden +1%
MA: Bernie –12.4%; Biden +16.2%
SC: Bernie –6.6%; Biden +8.3%
VT: Bernie –11%; Biden +26.1%
Some online pundits have claimed that the United Nations considers any discrepancy exceeding 4% a huge red flag that there’s been voter fraud. However, I wasn’t able to verify this claim on any UN websites or educational resources, so I’ll leave the possibility open that these results are potentially within a reasonable margin of error.
That said, if everything were on the up-and-up, wouldn’t the discrepancies occasionally work in Bernie’s favor? How is it that he’s the one being negatively impacted every time? Not once, but TWO election cycles in a row?
Delegate Allocation Timelines
Another extremely questionable pattern that’s emerged concerns when states are officially declaring winners and assigning their delegates to the candidates.
Check out the following table:
Notice anything odd? How is it that states in which Biden is winning, the results are announced within hours of polling stations closing, and the graphics and delegate allocations are paraded around the media.
On the other hand, whenever Sanders is performing the strongest, everything comes to a screeching halt, and the final tallies take weeks to be announced. The news cycle moves on, and Sanders never gains any momentum from his victories.
At the same time, the media only shows the delegate totals that have been officially announced, showing an unrealistically inflated lead for Biden. So, not only are the various state democratic parties possibly flipping votes and engaging in widespread voter suppression, but they’re also withholding delegates for as long as possible to manage the mainstream narrative of the primaries.
Adding all of this together, I see it as exceedingly unlikely that Bernie Sanders will mount an Obama-esque second-half comeback to win the nomination – no matter how horribly Joe Biden’s health appears to be or how thoroughly Bernie shows him up in their Sunday debate.
DNC Does What it Wants
This is a good place to remind you that some groups of Democrats sued after a similar trend emerged in 2016. In court, the DNC’s lawyers argued that the party is under no legal obligation to provide fair primary contests and that ultimately, Democratic leadership is within their rights to nominate anyone they want. State parties are holding these primaries and caucuses; they aren’t official electoral events sponsored by the United States government.
Knowing that this is the prevailing belief among high-ranking party members tells us that Democratic voters would have to realize this is the case and make their voices heard to the extent that officials were scared to go against the masses. At the moment, too many Americans are unaware of the rules or the discrepancies and generally trust the results reported on television.
Joe Biden is popular enough, and the narrative about moderates getting behind him while Warren split the progressive electorate for Bernie is so pervasive, most people don’t know that this contest has probably been significantly manipulated.
For that reason, I can only advise readers to bet on Bernie’s long odds if they believe Joe Biden may have a complete and utter meltdown on live television. Something extreme enough to disrupt the cognitive dissonance overriding the critical thinking abilities of most frequent cable news viewers.
Next Democratic Primary Contests:
- Arizona – March 17
- Florida – March 17
- Illinois – March 17
- Ohio – March 17
- Georgia – Rescheduled for May
- Puerto Rico – March 29
Sunday’s debate will be Bernie Sanders’s last hope if he wants to become the Democratic nominee. With tensions high over the pandemic and the one-on-one format providing the ideal opportunity to expose Joe’s glaring weaknesses, the Vermont Senator will get one shot to reversing the race’s momentum.
We’ll know whether Bernie’s message was able to get through to voters on March 17, when the next series of primary contests are held. Many are advocating for the remaining states to reschedule, but they’ve resisted the idea as of Saturday night.
Only Louisiana and Georgia have agreed to postpone their primaries.
Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio appear to be committed to their original schedule, despite widespread fears regarding the spread of the virus and the safety of station officials and voters.
So many election workers have pulled out in Arizona, the state has closed hundreds of voting locations. Naturally, all of these polling stations were located in predominately Hispanic areas, where Sanders excels.
Arizona’s Maricopa County—home to 4.4 million—just eliminated over a third of voting locations. Now only 151 poll sites will be open on Tuesday https://t.co/LXU69xl4Ms
— Virgil Texas (@virgiltexas) March 14, 2020
If the coronavirus eventually forces these Democratic state parties to delay their primaries, it should benefit Sanders. As the pandemic progresses, more and more voters will be faced with personal and financial crises – each of which represents the potential to alter opinions about Bernie’s proposals for a more dependable public safety net.
Even if the upcoming states remain stubborn, there’s no telling how coronavirus fears will influence public turnout. Will Biden’s strongest demographic – voters over the age of 55 – still be willing to flood the polls, overwhelming 2020’s surge of college students as they’ve done so far? They’re by far the population in the most severe danger of being hospitalized and killed by the virus.
It means that Biden will continue his habit of embarrassing himself when pushed on issues, that Sanders will look sharp and in control by comparison, and that the coronavirus pandemic has scared throngs of voters into re-evaluating their priorities. A second-half comeback is going to be an extraordinarily tall task for Bernie, and the odds say he’ll fall short – but the conditions are about as unpredictable as possible.
If Sanders is going to overcome the establishment and his slow start, it’ll be because of the inertia shift on Sunday. Anything less than perfection will end Sen. Sanders’s last shot at the White House.