Former GOP congressional staffer: Here’s why Bernie Sanders could defeat Trump in November

Former GOP congressional staffer: Here’s why Bernie Sanders could defeat Trump in November
Bernie Sanders image by JStone, Shutterstock
Election '20

Conventional wisdom in many GOP circles is that President Donald Trump would have an easier time defeating Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2020’s general election than former Vice President Joe Biden or former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. But conservative Republican Drew Holden, a former staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives, explains in an op-ed for the Washington Post that he isn’t so sure Sanders would be all that easy for Trump to defeat in November.

Holden makes it clear in his op-ed that he is not a fan of Sanders’ economic policies, which he believes would be “disastrous” for the United States if the 78-year-old Vermont senator became president. But Holden argues that although Sanders has “major liabilities,” he also has “considerable strengths.”

Sanders “commands a passionate, dedicated and active army of volunteers and small-dollar donors,” Holden writes. “He either leads or is right behind former Vice President Joe Biden in Iowa, depending on the poll. He also leads in New Hampshire. And Sanders slightly leads Trump in head-to-head polling, including in Texas — underscoring that he would be running against a deeply unpopular president who has already been impeached.”

Holden goes on to say, “Sanders’ message, whether you agree with it or not, is consistent and resonates deeply with millions of Americans. It is unclear whether Sanders is the strongest candidate in the Democratic field, particularly in the purple states that Democrats will need to beat Trump. But he should not be dismissed.”

An important lesson from the 2016 presidential election, according to Holden, is that “candidates can be deeply flawed” and “still win.”

“Trump was a political neophyte, a man who had been a Democrat mere years before, running against the most diverse, accomplished Republican field in memory,” Holden recalls. “He was a thrice-married reality TV star who had bragged about adultery and sexual assault seeking to lead a party whose leaders cast themselves as the defenders of family values. In an increasingly diverse America, he opened his campaign by saying that Mexico was sending drug dealers and rapists across the border. None of this mattered.”

The fact that Trump defeated so many well-known Republicans in the 2016 GOP presidential primary and then went on to win the general election, according to Holden, showed that “elections and voters don’t fit into the comfortable, academic narratives of yesteryear.” And bearing that in mind, Holden emphasizes, one cannot rule out the possibility that Sanders will be sworn in as president in January 2021.

“Beyond Sanders’ strengths, anyone predicting politics should add a dose of humility before writing off a candidate,” Holden asserts. “We live in strange times, and no one can predict what will happen between now and the 2020 election or foresee all the twists and turns these eight or so months have in store.”

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