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Mon Mar 7, 2016, 08:44 AM

Why isn't Bernie Sanders' economic message resonating in Michigan?

Here's an interesting read this morning.


Susan J. Demas
Why isn't Bernie Sanders' economic message resonating in Michigan?

His economic message should be a slam dunk in our Rust Belt state. Sanders inveighs until he’s hoarse against free trade agreements like NAFTA, Wall Street robber barons and the growing gap between rich and poor.

Sanders is playing to folks who have suffered through a decade-long recession and watched helplessly as thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas.

If the Vermont U.S. senator was going to win a big state, you'd think Michigan would be it.

But he’s still lagging well behind Hillary Clinton in polling averages. And it's not because Sanders has conceded Michigan. He's held a series of jam-backed, boisterous rallies and has blanketed the airwaves with ads.

Part of Sanders' problem is obvious: Clinton is a stronger candidate with deeper ties to the state. Her endorsement list is just about a mile long. I'm not a big believer that endorsements matter much, but it's worth noting when one candidate so thoroughly dominates the game. This belies the intense loyalty a lot of Michigan Democrats have to the Clintons –– relationships they've nurtured over several decades.

Contrast that to Sanders, who can boast of the quasi-blessing of eccentric Warren Mayor Jim Fouts and the endorsement of former U.S. Rep. Don Riegle, best known for being a member of the Keating Five.

I'm not aware that Sanders has spent much time in Michigan over the years, and apparently, his staffers haven't either. That was underscored by the campaign's recent announcement for a rally in "Anne Arbor." If you can't get the spelling right for the most liberal city in Michigan that's teeming with college students –– i.e. your base –– it's a pretty bad look for your candidate.

Sanders will probably continue to do well with young voters on Tuesday. But the question is: How many in this historically unreliable demographic will show up? It's also worth noting that Michigan has voter restrictions that hit college students particularly hard.

Sanders also can't seem to break through with African-Americans, who could be 30 percent of the state's Democratic primary electorate. Clinton is winning 70 to 80 percent of these voters in polls.

She was first out of the gate on the Flint water crisis, and her passion is appreciated by voters (who don't give a fig about Republicans whining that she's "politicizing" the situation). It's not that Sanders is ignoring Flint. He held a somber event there and has repeatedly demanded for GOP Gov. Rick Snyder to resign.

But Clinton is a known quantity. She's trusted. She wins on the electability question, especially with Democrats nervous about the unpredictability Donald Trump would bring as the GOP nominee and the specter of Antonin Scalia's Supreme Court seat remaining unfilled until 2017.

And Sanders has misstepped with stunts like tweeting out pictures of abandoned Detroit buildings with the caption: "The people of Detroit know the real cost of Hillary Clinton's free trade policies." Now there are myriad reasons for Detroit's blight problem, which started long before Clinton was running for president (or her husband). Democratic voters are smart enough to know that. That's why there's been a strong backlash.

Sanders may turn out be his own worst enemy. Rank-and-file Democrats in Michigan love his economic message –– especially union members. But time and time again, I've heard voters complain that they feel like the senator is yelling at them and hectoring them.

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Reply Why isn't Bernie Sanders' economic message resonating in Michigan? (Original post)
Chitown Kev Mar 2016 OP
stonecutter357 Mar 2016 #1
FrostyAusty Mar 2016 #2
Funtatlaguy Mar 2016 #3
Chitown Kev Mar 2016 #4

Response to Chitown Kev (Original post)

Mon Mar 7, 2016, 08:52 AM

1. Bernie Sanders' economic message .


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Response to stonecutter357 (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 7, 2016, 08:59 AM

2. It's far superior to

"Cut it out" or anything Hillary has even suggested .

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Response to stonecutter357 (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 7, 2016, 08:59 AM

3. 80% of 30% is your answer

That means the black vote in Michigan equals 24% of total vote for Hillary.
No way Bernie makes that up in the white vote.

Bernie can not win states that have 20% or more black vote of the total Dem turnout.

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Response to Funtatlaguy (Reply #3)

Mon Mar 7, 2016, 09:07 AM

4. BUt that's because of Donald Trump

that Bernie is not winning those voters

Michigan has an open primary, unlike some other states, which means Trump could be netting some independent and Democratic votes. What I think is really hurting Sanders is Trump's somewhat moderate economic agenda (served with the potent cocktail of anger and racial resentment). That's keeping disaffected Republican voters from crossing over.

Unlike other GOP candidates, Trump talks about issues working-class Michigan voters care about. He rails against companies like Ford building plants overseas and vows to force the jobs back when he's president. It'll never happen, of course, but it's music to the ears of folks who have been left behind in the new economy.

Trump's bigoted anti-immigrant platform also plays into people's economic fears. All the good jobs are gone –– and he gives voters someone to blame. And in contrast to other Republicans, Trump isn't interested in slashing Medicare and Social Security benefits that millions of people depend on.

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