If you blinked then you may have missed it, but right at the top of his marathon victory speech last night in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders succinctly explained why he’s the best bet for a Democratic victory in November:
What happened here in New Hampshire – in terms of an enthusiastic, aroused electorate, people who came out in large numbers – that is what will happen all over this country. Let us never forget: Democrats and progressives win when voter turnout is high. Republicans win when people are demoralized and vote turnout is low.
From there, Sanders’ case is completely straightforward: he motivates far more enthusiasm among voters than Hillary Clinton. He has rolled past the record fundraising totals of President Obama’s 2012 campaign with 3.25 million contributions from 1.3 million donors -and all averaging just $27 per donation.
That overwhelming support has Clinton’s wealthy fundraisers – who account for the overwhelming majority of her totals – on the ropes. “There’s a deep hunger for more action and more fire in [the] belly, and lots of worry all the energy is with Bernie,” a major Clinton bundler told Politico. “Everyone is talking about that.”
That energy has brought Sanders from 3% to as much as 42% in just the past year, posing a serious challenge to a Clinton campaign that has steadily fallen from the high 50s to the high 40s. His early deficits among various demographic groups have proven largely an artifact of low name-recognition, and last night in New Hampshire he proved that he can win handily in all of them (except, of course, for the extremely wealthy). And in the general election, Sanders outperforms Clinton against every Republican candidate, beating the presumptive nominee Donald Trump by 7.7 points (versus Clinton’s less comfortable 4).
As she did against Obama in 2008, Clinton has staked her campaign on a distinctly pragmatic argument against Sanders, contrasting her (dubious) claim to “get results” against Sanders’ ambitious and inspirational embrace of democratic socialism. And like Obama, Sanders is winning the most pragmatic argument there is: to get anything done as president, the first thing you have to do is get elected.