Helton: 20 Out Of 20: Bernie Sanders’ potential comeback

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Bernie Sanders speaks at Hancher Auditorium on Thursday, August 31, 2017. Sanders spoke at Hancher during a tour to promote his new book: Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Elijah Helton, Columnist

Updated:

Bernie would have won? The only way to find out is to run it again, and he will surely face a number of hurdles — new and old.

The clock had yet to strike midnight on Election Day, but the Bernie Bros were already whispering about 2020. The worst nightmare of progressive Democrats had all but clinched the presidency, and Secretary Hillary Clinton had let them down. “Hillary lost,” they’d say, “but Bernie would have won.”

This is 20 Out Of 20, a monthly column about potential candidates for the 2020 presidential election. In the first installment, we take a look at the runner-up of the 2016 Democratic primaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Is He Going to Run?

Just like anyone who might seek the presidency in 2020, it’s way too early to say right now. There are some key factors that historically have shown a prospective candidate is planning a run for the White House.

The easiest way would just be to ask the senator himself. “I’m not ruling it out,” Sanders said in an interview on “Make It Plain” with Mark Thompson. But if that line creates any buzz among his fans, he immediately shot it down. “I just have not made any decisions. And I think it’s much too early,” he said.

But what else has Sanders done since the 2016 election? Well, he’s written the Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution, an adaption of Our Revolution, which was released during his previous campaign. The book is aimed toward young adult readers who are among his enthusiastic supporters. In fact, Sanders visited the University of Iowa two days after the book was released, making a campaign-style speech at Hancher.

Will He be Nominated?

If Sanders indeed declares as a candidate for the Democratic nomination, he has lots going for him. First of all, there’s the fact that the 2016 Democratic primary was at least in part rigged by the Hillary Clinton campaign. The “Bernie would have won” people would have all the reason in the world to vote for him again.

However, Sanders probably won’t have a monopoly on progressively minded Democrats as he did in 2016, and that could cost him. Left-wing members of the party such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (who will be covered in a later edition of 20 Out Of 20), will likely try to capture some of the momentum from 2016 Sanders campaign. This has the potential to strip away some of the universal support he has received from progressives.

Is He Going to Beat Donald Trump?

A 2020 presidential election between two old New Yorkers would finally decide a four-year-long debate on whether “Bernie would have won.” Sanders supporters have heralded him as the most popular politician in America for months. But if the 2016 race taught political commentators anything, it’s to not trust the poll numbers.

Two major challenges stand in the way of a Sanders victory in 2020. The first is an old attack from his last campaign: He’s really old. The senator will be 79 years old by the time he’s taking his hypothetical oath of office. However, supporters will have an easy retort: Trump is the oldest person to be sworn into the nation’s highest office.

The second hurdle will be universal for any Democratic challenger for the White House, incumbency. No matter how popular or unpopular an elected official is, the advantage goes to the person holding the office. But as with polling, perhaps the old logic of political strategy is out the window post-2016.

So is it possible for Sanders to win the presidency in 2020? Absolutely, but not without a vicious fight against Democrats and Republicans alike.

Source: ourrevolution.com

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