Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, received a thumping by former Vice President Joe Biden in the Florida, Illinois, and Arizona primaries. His defeat in Florida was especially lopsided, about 63 percent of the vote for Biden and 23 percent for Sanders.
It was not hard to figure out why Bernie lost so badly in Florida, aside from the growing sense that Biden is the preferred candidate to go up against President Trump this Fall. The National Review explains.
“Sanders, who typically polls well with Latinos across the U.S., saw consistently low support among Florida’s large Hispanic population, made up largely of refugees and exiles from Cuba and their descendants. The Vermont senator has drawn criticism for his repeated praise of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and other left-wing Latin American strongmen, including Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega.”
Vox had a similar analysis, adding that Sanders had annoyed another group of Florida voters.
“Florida also has a large Cuban American population that is deeply skeptical of Sanders’s perceived softness on the Latin American left and a large Jewish population, some of whom may be skeptical of his views on Israel. Sanders himself is Jewish, but that has brought him essentially no benefit of the doubt from Israel hawks.”
In fact, Biden picked up a huge amount of the Jewish vote as well. The message that Florida voters are sending is one cannot praise Castro and condemn Israel and win elections in the United States.
Biden also enjoyed a perfect storm with other demographic groups in Florida. He is supported by African Americas and thus won the vast majority of those voters. Biden also polls well with older voters. Since Florida has more than its share of older voters in the form of retirees, Biden had the advantage once again.
The conventional wisdom going into the latest round of primaries has been that Biden, absent some low probability event, was the presumptive nominee for president for the Democratic Party.
After the primaries, especially the one in Florida, it had become clear to most that Biden will be the choice this summer at the Democratic convention and, for better or worse, will be the man to go up against President Trump in the fall.
Sanders’ problem has been that he was a better revolutionary than he was a politician, in the view of manner. Biden’s gaffes tend to be just alarming things that make people think he has dementia. Bernie tends to make the sort of political gaffes that are true expressions of his point of view but are inconvenient to his electoral prospects.
For example, when Sanders praised Cuba’s literacy program, many raised their eyebrows, wondering why the candidate would have anything good to say about a country that imprisons and shoots dissidents. Some suggested that the literacy program was much to do about nothing since Cubans are unable to read what they want but only what the state says they should.
Where Israel is concerned, Sanders often touts his Jewish identity and notes his stay on an Israeli kibbutz. However, he has been sharply critical of Israel’s policy toward Palestinian terrorists.
Moreover, Sanders has accused Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of being a “racist.” That stance appears to have been too much for Florida’s Jews, despite the fact that Jewish Americans tend toward the left, even when the affiliation clashes with their natural affinity with the Jewish state of Israel.
In the wake of the latest drubbing at Biden’s hands, Sanders has decided that he will confer his supporters and “reassess” his campaign according to Reuters. Most analysts have taken the position that no real reason exists for Bernie to remain in the race and that he should withdraw. On the other hand, a counter analysis has arisen that the longer Sanders is in the race the more Joe Biden will be pulled to the left to try to appease Bernie’s supporters.
The theory is that even if Sanders does not win, his ideas might. How that development will affect Biden’s prospects for the fall is a matter of conjecture.
In the meantime, since the next round of primaries are three weeks away as of this writing, Sanders is going to concentrate his efforts in the Senate, helping to shape the legislation being crafted to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Here too the socialist from Vermont wants his ideas to be featured.