The Nuclear Option — Reality Check: Bernie Has Lost Voters and It’s Because of Trump’s Economy


NEW YORK CITY — Is it possible that President Trump has already beaten Sen. Bernard Sanders?

Four years ago, Bernie Bros stormed Iowa and took over the Democratic caucuses.

Party leaders for the second time had crowned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee already, and for the second time, an unlikely interloper swooped in and smacked the crown off the top of her head.

Mrs. Clinton had already been denied the nomination once eight years before. Party leaders and the Clinton Mafia were not about to let that happen again. They unleashed all the political dogs of war after Mr. Sanders and his wildly enthusiastic foot soldiers.

Still, he persisted.

In Iowa, he came within a whisker of beating the Clinton machine. He won 696 local delegates, just 4 fewer than Mrs. Clinton’s 700.

In New Hampshire, Mr. Sanders utterly swamped Mrs. Clinton. With 151,000 voters turning out for Mr. Sanders, he clobbered Mrs. Clinton by 22 percentage points.

Now, fast-forward from 2016 to today.

Certainly, Mr. Sanders is the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination in a far more crowded field. But the underlying numbers suggest that Mr. Sanders already has lost an alarming amount of support over the past four years.

In Iowa this year, he fell from getting 49% of the vote to just 26%, earning 130 fewer delegates than he did in 2016.

Granted, it is a more crowded field this year. But that still means a bunch of Iowans who voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016 voted for somebody else last week.

Perhaps even more alarming is that the Democratic caucuses drew nearly 300,000 fewer voters that party officials had expected. So much for all the supposedly whipped-up Democratic enthusiasm.

In New Hampshire, Democrats set a new record with 298,000 voters taking part in the primary. But that number includes independent voters who chose to participate in the Democratic primary on a day in which there was basically no contest in the Republican primary.

But that enthusiasm bump may have been blunted by the fact that Mr. Trump also set a new record for an incumbent president in an uncontested New Hampshire primary, earning over 120,000 votes.

Far more troubling for Mr. Sanders is that his support in New Hampshire collapsed from 60% in 2016 to a mere 25% this week. That means 80,000 voters who pulled the lever for Mr. Sanders in 2016 pulled the lever for somebody else this year.

Again, sure, it’s a more crowded field now, but that is still a massive loss of support over a four-year period.

The real question is, “Why?”

It is never wise to venture into the minds of your average Bernie Sanders voter, but the most obvious answer is very simple: the economy.

In the three-plus years since Mr. Trump got elected, the economy has roared to life on all the very simple prescriptions he campaigned on and has successfully enacted despite the non-stop impeachment parade.

Lower taxes, gutting regulations and scrapping bad trade deals have paid enormous dividends already.

The result has been a record stock market, wages soaring and unemployment plummeting.

All of this means its probably not the best time to try peddling socialism.

• Charles Hurt can be reached at or @charleshurt on Twitter.


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