Bernie Sanders has announced that he will seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president once again in 2020.
The Vermont senator wrote in an email to supporters that he was building “an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign” that would draw on people across the country.
“Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history. It is not only about winning the Democratic nomination and the general election,” he wrote. “Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”
Sanders, an independent, “cited health care, climate change, student debt, the demonisation of undocumented immigrants, income inequality, gun violence and the myriad problems of America’s needy as propelling him into his second presidential contest”, reports The Washington Post.
As part of the announcement, Sanders is calling on one million supporters to sign up to his campaign and demonstrate the impact of grassroots backing – “a key component of his 2016 presidential campaign that he intends to build upon this cycle”, says Vox.
Asked how this campaign would be different to 2016, he told CBS: “We’re gonna win. We are gonna also launch what I think is unprecedented in modern American history and that is a grassroots movement to lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country. That’s what’s different.”
Sanders, who has held dozens of political rallies across the country since the 2016 election, “enters the race with the biggest social media following – and biggest mailing list – of any candidate for the Democratic nomination”, adds the Post.
‘He’s got company’
NBC says the question for Sanders now is: “can he compete in a much more crowded liberal/progressive lane than he encountered in 2016?”
Four years ago, “he opened this lane and showed the party that voters will come”, the broadcaster adds. But now “he’s got company – from progressive Elizabeth Warren, to the likes of Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, who are all running under the ‘Medicare for All’ banner”.
Indeed, “the rallying cries that distinguished Sanders from Hillary Clinton in 2016 – Medicare-for-all, a $15 minimum wage, campaign finance reform – are no longer unique positions”, adds Vox.
He has other problems as well, “including the enmity he earned among Clinton supporters in 2016”, says The Hill.
A gift for Republicans?
There is also the added issue that “most Republicans would see a Sanders candidacy as a gift, letting them paint the entire Democratic Party in socialism”, says The Atlantic. The idea that he might emerge as the candidate against Trump “is too much of a dream for them to even admit and many Democrats agree”, the magazine adds.
But those around him believe the critics haven’t woken up to the new political ecosystem, or to the power demonstrated in the 2018 midterms by independents and millennials.
“He’s uniquely positioned to do better against Trump in the general because he appeals to white working-class and rural voters – much better than a conventional Democrat does,” said Ben Tulchin, Sanders’ 2016 pollster. “He also is very popular and has done well in the Midwest, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, which are critical to winning.”
Bernie vs. Biden
One thing counting in his favour is the fact that Sanders “comes to the race with the high name recognition that many candidates in the crowded [Democrat] field lack”, says FiveThirtyEight.
A Gallup survey also found that 2016 was the first year in which Democrats felt more positively about socialism than they did about capitalism. This may mean Sanders’s message “might well have seeped in”, adds the polling website.
In fact, there is only one person currently polling better among Democrats than Sanders – and that’s Joe Biden.
“Bernie still has the biggest platform out of anyone in this race right now – outside of potentially Joe Biden,” Joshua Ulibarri, a partner with the Democratic polling firm Lake Research Partners, told Vox.
Biden is yet to declare his candidacy however, leaving Sanders in pole-position for the time being.