Democratic insiders: Bernie could win the nomination
Suddenly, Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is being taken seriously.
For months, the Vermont senator was written off by Democratic Party insiders as a candidate with a committed but narrow base who was too far left to win the primary. Elizabeth Warren had skyrocketed in the polls and seemed to be leaving him behind in the race to be progressive voters’ standard-bearer in 2020.
But in the past few weeks, something has changed. In private conversations and on social media, Democratic officials, political operatives and pundits are reconsidering Sanders’ chances.
“It may have been inevitable that eventually you would have two candidates representing each side of the ideological divide in the party. A lot of smart people I’ve talked to lately think there’s a very good chance those two end up being Biden and Sanders,” said David Brock, a longtime Hillary Clinton ally who founded a pro-Clinton super PAC in the 2016 campaign. “They’ve both proven to be very resilient.”
Democratic insiders said they are rethinking Sanders’ bid for a few reasons: First, Warren has recently fallen in national and early state surveys. Second, Sanders has withstood the ups and downs of the primary, including a heart attack. At the same time, other candidates with once-high expectations, such as Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke, have dropped out or languished in single digits in the polls.
“I believe people should take him very seriously. He has a very good shot of winning Iowa, a very good shot of winning New Hampshire, and other than Joe Biden, the best shot of winning Nevada,” said Dan Pfeiffer, who served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama. “He could build a real head of steam heading into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.”
If Sanders’ candidacy continues to be taken seriously, he will eventually be subjected to the scrutiny that Warren and Biden have faced for prolonged stretches. That includes an examination of his electability. “That conversation has never worked well for anyone,” Pfeiffer said.
Former California Gov. Gray Davis stopped short of saying firm support for "Medicare for All" would be an impediment for Democrats in the primary but suggested the risk for the nominee is significant.
“Californians and Americans, in general, like options — not mandates,” he said.
Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, said political insiders and pundits are rethinking his chances “not out of the goodness of their heart,” but because “it is harder and harder to ignore him when he’s rising in every average that you see.” And he welcomes a conversation about Sanders’ electability, he said
“We want that,” he said. “I’d love to be able to argue why he stands a better chance to beat Donald Trump than Joe Biden.”