Jesus, this was brutal. And you thought Super Tuesday was a bad night for Bernie Sanders. That was a walk in the park compared to what happened last night. In fact, you could say what happened last night was a walk in Central Park at night in the ’70s without a tank. Bernie got mugged, that’s what happened. We still don’t have the final delegate totals, but this much is certain: whatever hopes Sanders had of making this a race, died a horrible death.
The results in Michigan were all you needed to conclude that this was going to be a very long night for the Vermont senator. Four years ago, he beat Hillary Clinton in the state by 2 percent. Last night he lost it by 17. So compete was the drubbing that Sanders didn’t win a single county. Even Washtenaw County, home to the University of Michigan, where Sanders handily beat Clinton in 2016, went for Biden by four.
It was that way everywhere on the map yesterday. In Mississippi, Sanders was crushed 81-15. In Missouri, he lost 60-35. Even in Washington, a state in which he thrashed Clinton four years ago, he’s only ahead by 2,000 votes with a third of the state still left to be counted. Based on what we’ve seen from other states that had same-day voting, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Biden ends up winning there too.
It only gets worse for Bernie. Next week, Florida, Ohio and Illinois vote, and as of now the polls show Biden squarely in the lead in all of them, Florida by a ton. After that, it’s onto Georgia, Louisiana, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland and Delaware. None of them – not even Wisconsin, where he handed Clinton her lunch four years ago – shows him ahead. In fact, I’ve checked every single contest going forward and there isn’t one that shows Sanders in the lead. The Fivethirtyeight website now predicts Biden will wind up with over 2300 delegates going into the convention.
It’s time to face up to the facts: the revolution that Bernie was hoping to bring to America isn’t coming. In fact, it was never going to come. Left-wing populist movements almost never succeed, especially in this country. That’s because, contrary to what their proponents would have you believe, they just aren’t very popular.
Think about it. Left-wing populism, while aspirational, deals with the future. It says vote for me and something wonderful will happen. By comparison, right-wing populism is at its core grievance politics. It says vote for me, or something bad will happen. The fear of losing something always trumps – pardon the pun – the hope of gaining something.
It didn’t occurred to me at the time, but after Antonin Scalia died in 2016, I wondered why more progressives weren’t excited at the prospects of appointing a liberal judge to replace him. What an opportunity, I thought, to change the balance of power on the highest court in the land. Certainly Democrats would be motivated to turn out and vote. But alas, that didn’t happen. Progressives never seized on the opportunity afforded them.
You know who did? Conservatives, that’s who. For them, the idea that Clinton would be able to replace a conservative lion like Scalia with a liberal judge was all the motivation they needed to turn out at the polls. While Clinton did win the popular vote, she lost the all-important electoral college. Fear motivated the Right in a way no one could’ve foreseen.
It was that way in the United Kingdom, as well. No one seriously believes that Boris Johnson has a plan for restoring Great Britain to its once revered status, but he was part of the Brexit movement and he capitalized on the fears many Britons have of an uncertain future. Jeremy Corbin, like Sanders, promised voters the moon, and the voters said, thanks, but no thanks.
So now where do we go? At this point, it’s up to Sanders. At his press conference this afternoon, he gave no indication that he intends to drop out of the race anytime soon. Just the opposite, in fact. “On Sunday night, in the first one-on-one debate of this campaign, the American people will have the opportunity to see which candidate is best positioned to accomplish that goal,” he said.
I have a sneaky suspicion the American people already know who that is, and it ain’t Bernie.