Mehdi Hasan: Bernie Sanders is now the ‘undisputed frontrunner’ in the Democratic presidential primary — and pundits who wrote him off were dead wrong
The Democratic Party continues to be a very big tent, with progressives and centrists competing for its 2020 presidential nomination and a chance to take on President Donald Trump in the general election. In the New Hampshire Democratic primary, the clear winner was also the most progressive candidate: Sen. Bernie Sanders, although the centrist wing of the Party also fared well with former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg winning second place and Sen. Amy Klobuchar — who, until recently, had been underperforming — winning third place. And progressive journalist Medhi Hasan, in a February 12 article for The Intercept, stresses that New Hampshire’s Democratic primary means pundits who were dismissive of Sanders’ 2020 campaign have been proven dead wrong.
“Bernie Sanders is now the undisputed frontrunner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination,” Hasan declares. And although Buttigieg won the most delegates in the Iowa Caucuses, according to CNN, Hasan notes that Sanders won the popular vote in Iowa.
Hasan also points out that although Sanders “beat Buttigieg by only a narrow margin in New Hampshire,” the “only democratic socialist in this race” clearly has “momentum.”
“What a difference a year makes,” Hasan writes. “When (Sanders) launched his second presidential campaign, in February 2019, the independent senator from Vermont was mocked and written off by much of the pundit class. The Washington Post’s Henry Olsen called him a ‘one-hit wonder’….On Twitter, Olsen’s fellow Post columnist Jennifer Rubin described Sanders as ‘yesterday’s news.’”
Hasan adds that Olsen and Rubin were hardly the only journalists who were dismissive of Sanders’ second presidential campaign: Post columnist David Von Drehle, Hasan recalls, wrote that Sanders’ “moment is gone,” while MSNBC’s Chris Matthews predicted that Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who came in at fourth place in New Hampshire and third place in Iowa —would “blow out Bernie pretty early on.” And Hasan adds that MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson predicted that Sanders would drop out of the race by August 2019.
It remains to be seen how well Sanders will perform in the Democratic presidential primaries in Nevada on February 22 and South Carolina on February 29, or on Super Tuesday (which is March 3). But Hasan stresses that after Iowa and New Hampshire, pundits underestimate Sanders at their own peril.
Hasan views New Hampshire and Iowa as not only a victory for Sanders himself, but also, for his Medicare-for-all proposal — which was supported by 57% of attendees at the Democratic Iowa Caucus (according to an entrance poll) and six in ten voters at the New Hampshire Democratic Primary (according to an early exit poll).
“The message from Iowa and New Hampshire is clear: it was a big, big mistake to write off both Bernie Sanders and his No. 1 policy proposal,” Hasan asserts. “So going forward, will his critics make that same mistake again?”