As things stand, it seems that the Democrats have a strong chance of winning a third successive election in 2016. If polling is what we’re going by, only John Kasich seems to pose a threat to their chances and his distant third in the Republican primary suggests that scenario will probably not arise.
Regardless of my belief that both Democratic candidates are certainly capable of winning the presidency, (and in my view, they probably will) if either were to be nominated it would cause certain issues which could haemorrhage their vote and perhaps give the Republicans the window of opportunity they need to seize the White House in November.
Let’s start with Bernie Sanders. That this Independent Senator from Vermont continues to remain a strong contender for the Democratic nomination is testament to how diverse a democracy can (and should) be, but also points out just how polarising this election has been thus far. However, it’s not all good news for him.
Michael Cohen of the Boston Globe makes the observation that:
Hillary Clinton may not be a perfect candidate, but there is no candidate more capable of mobilizing the key voting blocs in the Democratic Party — black, Hispanic, and female voters. It’s not to say that Bernie Sanders could not prevail against Trump in a general election. Perhaps he could, but Sanders does not have the same ability to energize Democratic partisans the way that Clinton does — and he is a far less known entity. As an avowed socialist with a paper trail of politically fraught statements, and with very little foreign policy acumen, he’d be ripe for Republican negative ads.
I think Cohen is only half-right on his assessment of where Sanders could potentially be weak. Firstly I would reject the claim that Bernie lacks energy or that it would be harder for him to beat Trump compared to Hillary (polling suggests it’s the other way). However, for all the strides which the Sanders campaign has made, breaking into the minority vote has not been one of them. Because his message seems to resonate and rely on the votes of working class whites, it means that he is dependent on a high turnout from them for success. Also, it’s interesting to note that I wouldn’t describe Bernie Sanders as a socialist, but because he has affiliated himself with the terms makes him an easy target for ads which could be to his detriment.
Then we move on to the current favourite. Despite all the flak which Hillary Clinton gets from across the political spectrum, if push came to shove voters would probably see her as the lesser of two evils when pitted against a Republican. The issue with Clinton is that she may fail to tap into and energise a politically disaffected electorate (mainly comprised of youths) and although it’s hard to think that the Republicans will, she would have to present herself as a radical and energising alternative to the status quo which would be difficult to achieve as a conventional establishment candidate. Clinton appears to thrive on apathy, with low turnouts generally working in her favour. Even though it is definitely unlikely, Donald Trump’s unique appeal to Republicans across the country could maybe also be translated into some surprising successes in a general election against Clinton. Also, for a contest that is being billed as the most important in a generation it doesn’t promise to be one with a low turnout, and so for Hillary to win convincingly it’s important she remedies her issue with failing to appeal to a broader section of people.
So while I think that the potential nomination of either of these candidates poses some real problems, I don’t think that they would be excessively hard to solve. Both Democrats are generally in line with the public on social issues and despite their respective economic policies having some marked differences, both are a far cry from the big tax breaks and increased military spending which the Republicans seem very keen on implementing.
Do you think I’m wrong in my assessment? Are you more supportive of Bernie, Hillary, both or neither? Drop a comment below!