It seems pretty clear that Senator Bernie Sanders will emerge from Nevada as the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. He came into this race with strong name recognition. He has been well organized, and he seemingly has an unlimited line of credit for money and energy from his base of support.
All that being said, there are large blocks of the party that are not voting for him, at least not yet. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the fractured field. Part of it is ideological. How much lies in each camp we just don’t know. The biggest question of the moment is whether opposition to Bernie can coalesce, and if so, behind whom. I believe that Biden, Warren, Bloomberg, Butegieg, and even Klobuchar all believe in their minds that they are the ones best suited to unify the Sanders Resistance. Yet as long as all of them are running, consolidation will be impossible. With the delegate deluge of Super Tuesday looming, can one emerge? Can they keep Sanders in their sites?
There is a lot of fear from many in the Democratic Party about what a Sanders nomination will mean in the campaign against Trump, in down-ballot races, and even, if he should win, in how he would govern. I suspect many in the Republican Party are eager to face him. On the flip side, Sanders is a known quality and holds up to Trump well in many of the polls. He will say that his movement can bring new people out to the ballot boxes in large numbers, especially young voters and what he has shown to date as a surprising strength in the Latin American community.
Over all of this hangs the label of socialism. In my mind, it has strong connotations born from decades of experience that are hard to shake. I have seen socialists run in the past in the United States and have seen an electorate act in ways far different than you see in European countries. Younger voters undoubtedly see things differently, if you believe the polls. Sanders will paint his socialism as Denmark. Trump will paint it as Venezuela, or even worse, akin to communism.
Expect to see a rash of articles anticipating what Sanders will mean for the Democrats in the fall. Read the arguments, weigh them, but also remember what people thought about the strength of a Trump nomination. Most Democrats (and many Republicans) initially thought he would be easy to beat. And watch Sanders. Does he try to stick in his current lane and plow to the nomination or does he recognize the queasiness of many who desperately want rid of President Trump but view Sanders with fear or suspicion? If he is the nominee and he is to win, he will need Clinton voters, and even some potential Bloomberg voters, as well as his own. I suspect he knows that.
All I can say for certain is this nation is churning in ways unlike I have ever quite seen. We are being pushed further apart, to more polarized policies, and views of each other. It is into this vortex that the main event may be Trump vs. Sanders. Or maybe the notion of that will shake another Democratic candidate to the role of foil. We shall see. Buckle up, the future awaits.