‘While Joe Biden cont to do very well with older Americans, especially those over 65, our campaign continues to win the vast majority of the votes of younger people…’
In his speech following Tuesday’s primary defeat in Michigan and several other states that helped give former Vice President Joe Biden a more decisive primary lead, Sanders seemed to admit that it would take a force majeure to put him back into contention.
“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability,” Sanders admitted while pledging to soldier on into Sunday’s two-person debate in Arizona.
Lucky for him, such an act of God seemed to arrive that very same day as coronavirus panic went from a slow and wary burn to a full-fledged hysteria.
Cued by an upgraded designation from the World Health Organization, schools immediately began seeking alternative means to finish off their semesters and major sporting events proceeded to react—most notably with the cancellation the entire NBA season.
The number of confirmed U.S. cases hadn’t yet reached 1,200 and the death toll, somewhere between 30 and 40—most of them occurring in a single Washington State nursing home.
Yet, the virus’s easy transmission, lack of cure and higher-than-desired mortality rate (around 3 percent) particularly in older adults, made concerns over an outbreak valid reason to exert vigilance.
Not surprisingly, the leftist media and partisans like Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York sought to make hay of the disease with cheap-shot attacks speculating it would do political and economic damage to President Donald Trump.
Oddly, most ignored the more immediate way that the spread—of both germs and panic—could impact politics: by keeping older voters away from the polls in states like New York that have yet to vote in the primaries.
“We are winning the generational debate,” Sanders pointed out in his speech Wednesday. “While Joe Biden cont to do very well with older Americans, especially those over 65, our campaign continues to win the vast majority of the votes of younger people.”
That, he said, included not only college-age voters, but also older Millennials in their 30s and even some 40something Gen-Xers who might whittle away at Biden’s Boomer firewall.
None of the states, on their face, seem like easy wins for the far-left progressive. Arizona’s immigration issues may play a significant role, although many of those affected by it do not have voting rights.
In Florida, anti-Castro refugees may work against Sanders, who has expressed his admiration for the late Cuban dictator.
Heavy union influences could come to bear in Illinois, much as they did in Michigan, with some bristling at the socialized health-care proposals’ threat to diminish hard-fought union health benefits and other labor perks that establishment Democrats have long embraced.
Ohio’s more conservative bent has kept the Buckeye State unpredictable in the general election, but likely to play it safe in the primaries.
However, paired with older voters deciding to practice “social distancing” by avoiding public places, the states could see an uptick in younger voters as those attending colleges are sent home to the states in which they are registered.
Sanders also seemed ready to capitalize on one of Biden’s biggest vulnerabilities, as Trump already has begun to do, by zeroing in on his growing indications of befuddlement and possible dementia.
“On Sunday, I very much look forward to the debate in Arizona,” he said, putting the front-runner on notice that he would be well prepared and ready to hammer home his progressive agenda to draw contrasts between the two.
The reactions to the coronavirus likely provide a template for Sanders to follow in pushing his Medicare for All plan, while possibly raising criticism over the responses of the Obama administration during a series of pandemic crises that included H1N1 (swine) flu, Ebola and Zika panics.
“This crisis—this absurd healthcare system—is becoming more and more obvious to the American people as we face the challenge of the coronavirus,” Sanders said Wednesday, previewing his line of attack.
But even more likely is that Sanders will include heavy emphasis on his youth and young-adult-friendly policies—including free college tuition—to drive up his base support at the polls.
“Today, I say to the Democratic establishment: in order to win in the future, you need to win the voters who represent the future of our country, and you must speak to the issues of concern to them,” Sanders said on Wednesday. “You cannot simply be satisfied by winning the votes of people who are older.”