The True Nature of Sanders’ Appeal

June 9, 2016

The widely accepted narrative behind the success of Bernie Sanders quest for the Democratic Party nomination and rationale for him staying in the race long after he had any reasonable prospect of securing a majority or plurality of convention delegates rests on a few assertions.  First, he polls better than Clinton with young voters.  Second, his voter disapproval ratings are lower than Clinton’s and, third, he beats Trump by a wider margin than Clinton would in those same polls.  Finally, Americans are fed up with U.S. democracy and its capitalist economic system and want a revolution to shake up the establishment.  But a map in Thursday’s Financial Times suggest a different story, namely Sanders’ vitriolic opposition to the NAFTA trade agreement.

Representing each state as a circle arrayed in a facsimile of their geographic arrangement, the map divides the states by the darkness of shading to illustrate which state primaries and/or caucuses were won by Clinton and which by Sanders.  Fifteen states won by Sanders are boundary states.  More amazingly, eleven of his victories form America’s northern boundary, starting with Maine and then New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and then curling around to Oregon.  He also triumphed in Alaska and Hawaii, which are separated from the continental 48.  The map suggests that his position on trade, particularly the 1993 pact done early in Bill Clinton’s administration, is one of the biggest sources of his popularity.

If the election hinges on the matter of foreign trade, Sanders is not going to defeat Trump, whose campaign is even more identified as a protest movement against all things not American.  Moreover, several of the non-boundary states taken by Sanders against Clinton are ones that almost always vote Republican in presidential elections.  These include Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah and Oklahoma.

Copyright 2016, Larry Greenberg.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.


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