As Bernie Sanders edges ever closer to becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee, the Democrats around the country who will have to share the ballot with him in November are doing their best to put daylight between themselves and the socialist senator.
In swing districts everywhere, House and Senate incumbents and challengers are biting their fingernails to the quick, nervous that a Sanders presidential ticket will mean disaster – not just for the presidency but for their campaigns down-ballot as well.
“As Sanders builds what could eventually be an insurmountable delegate lead, many Democratic House and Senate candidates are approaching a dramatic shift in their campaigns, as they recalibrate to include praise of capitalism and distance themselves from the national party,” reported the Washington Post. “Top campaign strategists from both parties view Sanders’s success as a potentially tectonic event, which could narrow the party’s already slim hopes of retaking the Senate majority and fuel GOP dreams of reclaiming the House, which it lost amid a Democratic romp in 2018.”
In an interview with WaPo, former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said that he was hearing a lot of nervousness from lawmakers.
“I can tell you that there are a lot of down-ballot jitters based on my conversations with my former colleagues,” Israel said. “Donald Trump is going to offer the American people this choice: Do you want to continue building the economy or do you want to lurch toward socialism? And that is a real powerful argument in the Democratic districts that Trump won in 2016.”
While Michael Bloomberg and the rest of the 2020 candidates are still putting out rhetoric that suggests they will stop Sanders from winning the nomination, time is growing very short. Sanders has already won the first three contests (more or less), and the polls have him poised to dominate Super Tuesday on March 3. If he’s as successful on that day as the data suggests right now, there will be virtually no chance of preventing his nomination in the summer. It will be over, the Democrats will be forced to defend socialism this fall, and well…it’s not gonna be pretty.
But even if Sanders can somehow pull off a miracle and defeat Trump, it’s not going to do much to help those candidates vying for office in districts that Democrats took back in 2018. The so-called “blue wave” was driven almost exclusively by moderate candidates – NOT the “Justice Democrats”/Democratic Socialists wing of the party. And those candidates are going to have a tough sell on their hands in a year where one of those guys is at the top of the ballot.
“The Democrats’ embrace of socialism is going to cost them their majority — I mean, it’s as simple as that,” Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) told WaPo. “Bernie is about as good a contrast as we could have ever hoped for.”
Election Day could potentially turn into one of the most brutal nights in the history of the Democratic Party. It might be a little early to start celebrating…but it’s not too early to start thinking about celebrating.