That Bernie would have beaten Trump in the general election is a fact, not an opinion
If you deny facts, evidence, you might as well join Trump and deny climate change
Trump was unpopular with high negatives in 1) June 2016, 2) at the time of the election and 3) now. Bernie had high positives in 2016 and still does now. There was never a moment when this relationship changed, despite lots of events and news.
In order to deny the fact that Bernie would have beaten Trump, you have to invent events and news that might have happened that would have hurt Bernie and helped Trump. It’s just as easy to invent events and news that didn’t happen that might have helped Bernie and hurt Trump, leading to an even bigger landslide than the 9-12% Bernie win predicted by the aggregate of all polls from May 2016 to October 2016. So, if you propose a hypothetical event to change a steady dynamic, Bernie as popular and Trump as unpopular, a state of affairs that seems very resistant to news and events, then I will propose a counter event to indicate a swing in favor or Bernie, leaving us only with the actual empirical evidence from which it is a good idea to draw conclusions.
If leave out all just-so stories, hypotheticals, Bernie would have beaten Trump, perhaps by a lot, perhaps by a huge number, or perhaps by a little, but that he would have won is compellingly proven, with a higher degree of confidence than the fact that human activity is warming the earth’s climate. We have been polling elections for decades and there have been hundreds or thousands of elections with good data. We have never predicted the entire climate before. The margins of error in polling are known such that we can say that the lead Bernie held consistently over almost a year, including right now, is beyond the margin of error, making his victory very, very likely, approaching 99%, and good enough to be a fact.
All empirical evidence (favorability ratings, head-to-head polling, crowd size, etc.) through May, June and July of 2016 showed Bernie would almost certainly win and Hillary might well lose against Trump in a toss up or close race. By July 25, Trump had gone from a five point underdog against Clinton to a six point favorite. The rise of Trump and decline of Hillary was true before we could factor in the Wikileaks DNC release and the negative effect of Hillary picking Tim Kaine. If you are looking for a way to dig yourself a hole, the Democrats were offering a master class. They were losing, then doubled down on all the factors that were combining to make them lose.
Politifact rated the statement “Bernie Sanders says he polls better against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton does” as “mostly true” at the time of the Democratic convention. The key question was the word “all” — there was no doubt that almost all (and all the larger and national polls) showed significantly better results for Bernie, with an average of Bernie beating Trump by three times as much as Hillary. Politifact bent over backwards to not give Bernie a “true” but “mostly true” is good enough.
RealClearPolitics favorability average for the week before the election showed Clinton with a -12.8 and Trump with -21.0. Meanwhile, in April 2016, “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the best-liked presidential candidate from either party, according to a new poll. Forty eight percent of all Americans view the Democratic White House hopeful favorably in The Associated Press/GfK survey released Tuesday. Thirty nine percent view Sanders unfavorably, giving him the best net positive favorability rating.” Over time, Bernie’s numbers got better, as people got to know him. August 2016 NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey, July 31 to August 3, (ID 201627 Hart Research) found Sanders with a +22. Around the time of the Democratic convention: FoxNews +26, The Economist +17, CNN/ORC +24.The Economist/YouGov Poll conducted October 7–8, 2016 showed Sanders with a +19. His average in this poll was +21 over the entire period of the election. He averaged about +10 in the spring, +20 in the summer and was still at about +20 when we were herded into the voting booth and instructed to vote for Clinton or get hammered with Trump.
One would ask, would one not, of the Democratic party: do you want to beat Trump or not? Why play chicken with fascism? Pick the better candidate, since, as we all know, there was no democratic primary to respect, as the Democratic primary was not democratic.
Huffington Post published an article on November 11, 2016 called “New Pre-Election Poll Suggests Bernie Sanders Could Have Trounced Donald Trump.” Gravis Marketing, two days before the general election, found that Sanders would have received 56 percent of the vote while Trump would have won 44 percent. In May 2016, the RealClearPolitics average of polls had Bernie beating Trump by 12 and Hillary winning by three percent.
So, consistently over at least five months, one story emerges from the polls. FiveThirtyEight gave Trump a 33% chance of winning days before the election. If the Democrats wanted to play with fire, they should not be surprised when they got burned.
The statement “Bernie would have beaten Trump in the general election had he been the Democratic nominee” is a fact in the same way that the statement “human activity is causing the climate of the planet to change.” By a fact, I clearly mean a proposition with sufficient certainty such that alternatives to the proposition are not worth serious consideration.
To say that we can’t know what would have happened in the general election because there was no general election between Bernie and Trump, because the match up did not happen, is not a good response for a couple of reasons. One, we cannot know with absolute certainty what happened when we all agree that the event was in the past. In other words, events in the past that did happen are also subject to some degree of uncertainty given the nature of knowlegde and how we know things at all. Even if Bernie had been the nominee and the general election had been between Trump and Bernie and Bernie were sworn in as president on January 20, 2017, we would not have been absolutely certain that Bernie had in fact beaten Trump. Even now we don’t know for certain that Trump beat Clinton. Some degree of uncertainty, even a tiny degree of apparently absurd but still possible variation, surrounds every event in the past. Secondly, if you say that the outcome of a Bernie versus Trump general election match up is unknowable because it is in the future, then you are certainly not concerned about global climate change, as the negative results of this process are almost entirely in a hypothetical future, and, you say, therefore unknowable. If you say the outcome of a Bernie versus Trump is unknowable because it involved probability, I’m sure you also head out to work knowing that there is a 99% chance that there will be a snowstorm at noon and two feet of snow will fall.
There are few or no statements with absolute certainty. On Thursday, November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. What did he say? His notes from the train, as he continued to edit it right up until he delivered the speech, are different than the accounts that appeared in print afterwards. That makes sense: maybe he changed it again or what we now have is not the final draft, or he winged it a bit. But the newspaper account differ from each other. Well, that makes sense as they would have been writing it down as he delivered it, or working from handwritten copies passed from person to person. Just because we can’t know exactly what he said, we get the general idea of what he said.
Thousands of people were there. But thousands of people did not leave documents claiming to have heard it: only a handful left documents. Maybe the few who left documents conspired among themselves to say he actually delivered the speech when in fact his throat was hoarse and he didn’t really say the speech, only stood there and mouthed it. That’s unlikely, but it could be.
What if Lincoln had been shot on the way to the speech in 1863 instead of in Ford’s Theater in 1865? We’d have the notes he wrote and we could say, “Lincoln would have delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 but he was shot on his way there so he couldn’t deliver the speech.” But how would we know he was really going to give the speech? Maybe he would have chickened out at the last moment, or changed his mind for no reason. Pretty unlikely, since he took the train to Gettysburg just to deliver the speech.
“Lincoln would have delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 but he was shot on his way there so he couldn’t deliver the speech” is not a true statement because he wasn’t shot on the way to deliver the speech. If he had been shot on the way to give the speech, it would be true.
When we say something like “human activity is warming the planet” we mean “there is a 99% chance that human activity contributes some degree of climate change with a 95% confidence level and a margin of error of + or — 2%.” So, when I say, “Bernie Sanders would have beaten Donald Trump in the general election in 2016” I mean with some degree of uncertainty. There is more uncertainty about the statement “Bernie would have beaten Trump” then there is about the statement “Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg address on November 19, 1863” but there is no more uncertainty about the Bernie/Trump statement than there is about what Lincoln precisely said on November 19. One proposition is about something that almost definitely happened, Lincoln gave a speech, and another is about a hypothetical, Bernie would have won, but both propositions involve some degree of unknowable information along with a lot of knowable information.
There is enough knowable information to make a very solid conclusion. There is empirical evidence to support the statement “Bernie would have won.” This empirical evidence includes polls over many months, from April through October 2016. The polls ask about favorability and likely voting, were conducted by many pollsters, and asked questions that have a track record that can be evaluated. If I do a poll today and my statistical sampling is good, my results are correctly reported, but I ask a question that has never been asked, that hypothetical poll is not as strong as one that is much like hundreds or thousands of political preference polls going back for decades.
I outlined this evidence in the beginning of this essay. This evidence means that “Bernie would have won” is sufficiently supported by evidence to count as a fact, such that the alternative propositions are not worth serious consideration, absent new evidence.
Rally size did seem to matter a lot in 2016. We know that in rural counties in Pennsylvania and Ohio where Trump held rallies, he did better than previous Republicans even though he did not poll better than the Republicans generally in many of these same areas. If you compare areas where Trump did hold rallies to areas where he did not hold rallies, you see a difference. The same is not true for Hillary because no one but Blue Dogs and professional Democrats went to her rallies.
Bernie had the biggest rallies of all, often on short notice with no media hype. While I know (in person and online) tons of people who voted for Trump or stayed home or voted third party who would have voted for Bernie but not Hillary, I don’t know anyone who convincingly says they would have voted for Trump or stayed home if Bernie had been the Democratic nominee. Even today Bernie has favorability ratings more than double those of Hillary. No FBI investigation, no embarrassing leaks, no bribes, no stealing, no pedophilia art collection (see Washington Post, “Married, With Art” September 23, 2004): Bernie was clean, popular, and it was an anti-establishment year.
Who was the better candidate could not have been clearer. Then, with all those factors in place, the DNC leaks broke right before the convention. The DNC leaks showed clearly that the primary was rigged. With the subsequent Podesta leaks, we now know that crimes were committed and that Hillary absolutely cheated. The more Democrats pretend that Hillary won the primary, the more people like me will not vote for Democrats. Lying about your previous cheating is not a good reconciliation strategy. Without reconciliation, Trump will have it easy.
This combination of a weak candidate and an illegitimate election should have sent Obama and the Democrats into crisis mode. They should have taken a look at the possibility of a Trump victory and put their egos and personal interests aside in the interest of the country. Their chosen candidate was unlikable, unpopular, and just exposed as illegitimate. She was not up against some run of the mill Republican but a racist whack job.
If you were watching TV instead of following the live feeds of Bernie delegates in Philadelphia, you might not know that July 25, 2016 was a pivotal moment in US history. The Democratic convention was going to be a critical moment in the history of the United States. Either the party would find a way to heal and get a good ticket out there or any minor swing in the news cycle could doom the nation to fascism, if the alarmists are to be believed about the magnitude of the Trump threat (nagging thought when you hear the alarm: if the alarm is legitimate, why didn’t you nominated the better candidate to take him on?).
What did Obama and his party do? Shut the Bernie delegates down, suppress their voices, depend more than ever on the MSM and try to plow through with a strategy to get Hillary in the White House first hatched in 2008 or maybe 2012. Here are the things Team Hillary said at the time:
“Will he [Trump] have some appeal to working-class Dems in Levittown or Bristol? Sure,” Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell was quoted as saying. “For every one, he’ll lose one and a half to two Republican women. Trump’s comments like ‘You can’t be a 10 if you’re flat-chested,’ that’ll come back to haunt him. There are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women. People take that stuff personally.”
On July 27, 2016, as the Democratic party split into pieces, Chuck Schumer, true genius like his colleague Rendell, said, “The electorate is moving in a more Democratic direction. When middle class incomes decline, people tend to move in a more progressive direction… For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”
Can I get a “Ha!” We have a sense of the spin from the Blue Dog side. We can find many more such quotes from the establishment Democrats. And why did Schumer think Illinois was a swing state? I mean, talk about bad leadership.
On July 25, 2016 the Washington Post published “90 percent of unwavering Sanders supporters plan to vote for Clinton in November.” However, the original source was a single poll by Pew Research conducted in April to early June. This 90% figure was from before the DNC leaks published on Wikileaks. The Democrats were building themselves a house of illusion rather than dealing with the crisis of their party coming apart at the seams.
Where did the Washington Post get the term “unwavering” from for their headline? Their asses? A survey in April cannot indicate unwavering support in July. The way you would determine if the support is unwavering is to do another poll in August, then another in October. That’s what you’d do if you really wanted to know if the support was “unwavering.” If you are just spewing propaganda with no empirical basis, you would just assume the support is unwavering because you wish it to be the case and your bosses want it to be the case.
The support didn’t sound too unwavering on July 25, 2016. Wayne Allyn Root in an article in The Blaze from July 26, 2016 said, “Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are melting down. Democrat National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is despised and deposed — literally fired and booed off the stage. Hillary’s coronation is in chaos and crisis. Julian Assange says he’s releasing Hillary’s personal emails next. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is surging in polls. Hillary is in a world of trouble.Then there’s her vice president pick. It’s the worst EVER. Hillary announced Tim Kaine to a soaring crescendo of… SILENCE. It was P.T. Barnum who once said the worst thing that can happen in business is…NOTHING. In business or politics, silence isn’t golden, it’s deafening.”
Jacqueline Luqman said on July 25, it was becoming obvious Trump would win. Michael Moore published his article “Five reasons Trump is going to win”… any guess of the date? July 25. There is an article on the Advocate byline Sunnivie Brydum, “Nate Silver’s Terrifying Prediction: Prepare for President Trump.” Guess the date? July 25.
On my facebook feed, on July 25, I said: “…Trump lead will probably grow after we take the WikiLeaks situation into account. A negative convention which looks like what we will have may also hurt Hillary. Without getting overly emotional and angry we need to solve the situation or we’re going to have Donald Trump as president. Simply telling the other people what they should think when it is not what they do think or what they will think is not going to work. I propose that a few democratic bigwigs including some progressives meet behind closed doors and come up with a new ticket…Thinking that somehow Hillary Clinton can get the job done is simply not the case. It’s a risk we don’t need to take.” I think the discussion on my Facebook page that followed encapsulates the delusion of the Democrats and the rage of the Berniecrats perfectly.
Rather than be honest, apologize, and compromise, make Bernie VP or change their plan in some real way, like yanking Hillary out of there and putting in a fusion ticket, Obama and Clinton went straight ahead, pissed off their base, and nominated a widely despised candidate who had tons of baggage and secrets yet to reveal.
July 25, 2016 was a crisis and a test of the Democratic party. The party screwed up and now Trump is president. That the liberal echo-chamber MSM didn’t even acknowledge that the ship of state was crashing into an iceberg should awaken you to the fact that the news is not the news and these millionaire talking heads on your screen are screening you from the truth.
I said all of this almost verbatim on July 25, 2016 on my Facebook page. This is not “hindsight is 20/20.” We told you at the time. I could find 1,000 similar posts. We told you so. We told you so. We told you so. We are telling you so again now. The writing was on the wall. Obama was the only man who could have taken some lumps and turned that ship around. Instead, guess what: iceberg, crash, disaster.
Leadership? He can dance a mean tango, sing in a deep baritone, shoot a three point shot, write a legal brief, orate, act, slow jam the news but on Obama’s tombstone you only really need one word: wimp.