Whoopi Goldberg‘s interrogation of Bernie Sanders on “The View” this week was probably frustrating for everybody involved: the interviewer, the interviewee and people watching the popular daytime talk show on Wednesday. The problem(s) was/were, according to reactions posted across social media, twofold.
1) Sanders seemed to struggle to provide a clear reason why he thought he still had what he previously called a “narrow path” the win the Democratic nomination. Whoopi asked him multiple times in different ways (“Why are you still in the race?”) and each time he seemed to bob and weave her persistent line of questioning that included a reference to allegations Bernie didn’t readily get behind Hillary Clinton as the nominee in 2016; a reference that Bernie took umbrage with.
2) Whoopi’s line of questioning was hyper-aggressive, Bernie sympathizers said. She hardly let him get a word in as she asked questions she wouldn’t allow him to fully answer, people argued while citing her past criticism of the senator from Vermont as evidence of implicit bias against him.
Watch for yourself below.
But there was also another segment of people reacting to the interview who can’t be ignored: people who want President Donald Trump to lose his re-election bid. Those folks also sounded off on social media and predicted that Bernie’s insistence on what they see is delaying the inevitable suspension of his campaign can only benefit Trump and Republicans, who would be able to point to Democrats’ apparent instability.
That view all but mirrored the underlying context to Whoopi’s questions that Bernie answered in part by saying matter of factly: “Last I heard, people in a democracy have a right to vote.”
While Sanders’ deficit to Joe Biden‘s delegates won in the primary season is significant, technically — and, more importantly, mathematically — it is not insurmountable. But conventional wisdom and a look back in history show that chances are more than likely Sanders will not be able to win the Democratic nomination for president, with or without the threat of a brokered convention.
Two days earlier, Bernie was a bit more honest about that fact.
“It is admittedly a narrow path, Sanders told Seth Meyers on Monday’s episode of the comedian’s “Late Night” show. “[B]ut I would tell you, Seth, that there are a lot of people who are supporting me.”
To Sanders’ point, an informal poll conducted by MSNBC found that nearly 90 percent of its respondents wanted him to stay in the race.
One other factor that could be compelling Bernie to stay in the race is the seemingly very credible sexual assault allegations that have been made against Biden. Sanders may want to see how Tara Reade‘s recently resurfaced accusations against then-Delaware Sen. Biden in 1993 play out in the court of public opinion as primary contests continue to get delayed and rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Interestingly enough, neither Biden nor Sanders have really exchanged any criticisms of one another since their last debate in March. That may be why Biden has maintained his double-digit polling lead over Bernie, another factor that is helping to fuel the onslaught of opinion pieces urging the trailing candidate to drop out of the race. There is also the matter of Sanders losing against Trump in a separate new poll.
Even if Bernie does drop out, either sooner or later, it’s unclear if he would repeat his actions from four years ago and delay rallying around Biden as the Democratic Party’s nominee. Sanders said he is assessing the state of his campaign, something he repeated to Whoopi on Wednesday. But, as public discourse has shown, it’s been hard for some to forget how in 2016 when Sanders dropped out of the race, he did not immediately endorse Hillary Clinton. He finally fell into Party line weeks after President Barack Obama announced his support for her. In that case, the Washington Post speculated that Sanders may have been hesitant to endorse Clinton because he thought that might anger his supporters.
If that was any indication of the future, the country could see somewhat of a repeat of that treatment this time around as Sanders — facing an upward battle with a decided deficit of delegates — decides whether to suspend his campaign and endorse Biden.
A poll in January showed that more than half of Sanders’ supporters said they would definitely support the Democratic nominee if it’s not Bernie, Newsweek reported. The implication was that the remaining 47 percent of Sanders’ supporters would either abstain from voting altogether, write in a third-party candidate with no chance of winning, or vote for Trump.
If either of those three scenarios happens, it would arguably be a repeat from Election Day 2016, when exit polls showed that one out of every 10 Sanders supporters voted for Trump, according to NPR.
However, even if that does happen, Biden as the Democratic nominee could still have the edge as he continues to turn out levels of Black voters not seen since the last two times he did this — alongside Obama in 2008 and 2012. The share of Black voters fell dramatically in 2016 compared to 2012, according to statistics compiled by the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan nonprofit organization. That may have been because of a false sense of confidence Democratic voters and especially Black folks were lulled into based on inaccurate polling that predicted Trump would lose to Clinton.
(Reports have indicated that Sanders has largely struck out with Black voters and one former campaign staffer who is Black explained to the Grio why he thought “Black voters aren’t feeling the Bern in 2020.”)
Perhaps having learned their lesson the hard way, Black voters could ensure a Democratic victory in the general election this time around in addition to Trump’s departure from the White House if they turn out at the ballot box the same way as 2012.