Republicans up and down the ballot are already casting their Democratic rivals as socialist puppets who would remake the economy in Sanders’ collectivist vision. The play is straightforward: President Donald Trump has repelled college-educated suburban voters since he took office; Republicans want to win them back by arguing the alternative is worse.
What is the convincing argument to dissuade the electorate of the impact Sanders’s nomination may have on down-ballot races. We’ll know more after super-Tuesday,
We know that “socialist” fear-mongering and red-baiting will occur for whoever the nominee is, but some “moderates” are far too fearful of the association to run with it, even if the never-Trump message will be stronger. The bad sign was the poor performance in a number of progressive primary races for more than a few “purple” state races.
An simmering problem is whether #VoteBlueNoMatterWho can be coordinated behind a GOTV up-and-down the ballot, given the kinds of bad feelings that could occur on the way to Milwaukee. Claims that such conflicts won’t be there need to be reminded of the potential role-reversal from 2016 where this time the dominant Sanders campaign needs to also demonstrate a commitment to party unity among so many potential supporters of defeated POTUS candidates.
Former astronaut Mark Kelly, the Democratic Party’s hope for flipping a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona, tried to do no harm this month when he was asked about Sen. Bernie Sanders. “I will ultimately support who the nominee is of the Democratic Party,” he said.That was enough for Kelly’s Republican rival, Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who is trailing him in early polls, to go on the attack. The television spot she debuted days later spent nearly as much time talking about plans by the democratic socialist from Vermont to raise taxes and award new benefits to undocumented immigrants as it did about Kelly.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. 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.
If Democrats are awakening to a recognition that Sanders could pull away from the rest of the field, there is far less consensus about whether his nomination will help President Trump win reelection. Sanders’s power to turn out young and blue-collar voters or suburbanites is not fully tested, the ceiling of Trump’s support is poorly defined in a two-way race and the senator from Vermont has not yet been subjected to a negative paid advertising effort.
Some Democrats contend it will be the president — more than anyone the GOP turns into a foil — who will drive general election turnout.
“Republicans,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post, “are doing everything to try and distract from the fact that they have a huge liability at the top of the ballot: President Trump.”
— Crispy (@_CP11) February 23, 2020