20 Reasons Bernie Sanders Is The One To Beat Trump In 2020 (*Backed By Data)

Brian Hanley
9 min readSep 25, 2018
Credit: CNN

1. He’s on track to win the 2020 primaries.

If New Hampshire’s 2020 primary were held tomorrow, polls show Bernie Sanders edging out former VP Joe Biden by 7 points. But Sanders is more than the frontrunner in the first scheduled primary of 2020, he also has a higher probability of defeating Donald Trump than any other potential candidate. According to the most recent polls, Sanders commands the largest lead over Trump, followed by Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

2. He’s the most likely to win the Electoral College.

Most notably, Sanders can capture the must-win battleground states that Clinton failed to. In 2016, he upset Clinton in both Michigan and Wisconsin, which in the general election she desperately needed to win, but capitulated. Sanders would have won both states, as he did in the primaries. After all, he defeated Clinton by a total of 152,337 votes in Michigan and Wisconsin. Clinton lost both to Trump by a total of 33,452 votes. Had Sanders been the nominee, Dems would have won both by a margin of ≈100k.

That alone would have deprived Trump of 26 electoral votes, reducing his grand total of 304 down to just 278. Remember, 270 is what’s needed to win it all. Sanders, as the 2020 nominee, could nearly deny Trump the presidency by turning blue two states that he’s already won. He also has the popularity to flip Pennsylvania and Ohio. Even Trump’s personal pollster, Tony Fabrizio, concedes, “I think Sanders beats Trump.” Sanders has “the ability to reach a lot of the less than college-educated, low-income white voters.”

3. He’s the most popular politician in the country.

While Trump broke the record for the worst favorability ratings of any nominee in history, Sanders maintains the highest favorability scores of any elected official. Sanders continues to be the most popular politician in the country by a large margin. He’s the only one on either side who the majority of voters like. Even a Fox News survey found that no other politician was more well liked and most Republicans say that he’s honest.

4. The kids are crazy about him.

While Sanders remains admired across demographic groups, he’s most competitive due to his record-shattering popularity with young people. In the Michigan primary, 81 percent of young Democratic voters cast their ballots for Sanders; in New Hampshire, 83 percent did. Sanders turned out more young people in the primaries than Obama did in 2008, receiving more votes from young people than Clinton and Trump combined.

5. He’s a savage on social media.

To beat Trump, Democrats need to run a candidate who can compete with the President’s enormous social media influence. One of Sanders’ secret weapons is the digital media empire he’s built with the help of his Media Producer, Armand Aviram, formerly a politics producer at NowThis. Sanders uploads thousands of originally produced videos to his social media channels, in which he and other progressives champion major issues like Medicare for All. Some of his more scripted videos feature Sanders talking directly to camera. However, it’s not uncommon for Sanders and Aviram to strike viral gold completely serendipitously. For example, when Jim Carrey recently appeared on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, the actor described the benefits of Canada’s healthcare system. Within hours, Aviram sprang into action, cutting the video into a shareable package that was distributed across the Senator’s platforms. Within 10 days, the video garnered over 12 million views on Facebook alone. At the top of the video was a NowThis-style title that read: “Jim Carrey Explains Universal Healthcare.”

Sanders’ team first developed and refined this approach during the 2016 primaries. When a bird landed on Sanders’ podium in Portland, his digital team converted the once-in-a-lifetime moment into viral multimedia and an online fundraising windfall.

Sanders and Aviram understand that while a live speech like Carrey’s can influence the millions watching in real time, capturing that moment and turning it into a viral video can reach tens of millions more in the days ahead. Aviram uses text cards (or subtitles) in his videos to convey the most important messages, while allowing viewers to follow along with their volume off, which most viewers prefer. It’s the ripple effect that social media enabled, and the production techniques that Sanders’ team perfected, that allow a moment like Carrey’s to live on and even reach a targeted audience segment.

6. He’s the undisputed leader of the progressive movement.

Sanders and Aviram have not only hacked virality, but they have also seen their content move the needle politically. Their videos and live streams many times eclipse the major cable news networks in terms of viewership. It’s all online, like the bulk of Sanders’ fundraising. Coincidence or consequence, his videos have hit billions of views, while at the very same time, support for the Senator’s trademark policies such as Medicare for All have skyrocketed. Not long after Sanders hosted a town hall to discuss universal Medicare, which 1.1 million people live streamed, polls found a seismic shift in public support for the program. 70 percent of Americans now support it, compared to 53 percent who supported it in 2017. Supporting Medicare for All, which Sanders pushed relentlessly into the mainstream, is now practically a prerequisite to running in 2020.

7. His supporters are as passionate as anyone’s.

Enthusiasm matters in elections and Trump’s base is clearly fired up for 2020. You need a candidate who can match that energy and so far, Sanders is the only one who can surpass it. He attracts larger rallies than the next two presidential hopefuls combined.

It’s not all about cult of personality either. Sanders has a long history of talking about, and fighting for, the issues that most Americans care about. Voters have caught on to the influence big money has on our politics. They know that politicians represent the people, or too often, the special interests, that fund their political campaigns. When it comes to tackling big issues like climate change, voters trust Sanders’ integrity.

8. He’s the king of grassroots fundraising.

At a time when 77 percent of Americans want to get money out of politics, Sanders has established the political purity test for progressives by not accepting a single dollar from special interests and depending instead on small individual donations. He raised more individual campaign contributions in his 2016 bid for president than any other candidate in US history. No other Democratic candidate is less reliant on big money and more in command of a grassroots fundraising army. It’s going to take, not only the passion of his diehard base, but also cold hard cash to stop Trump. Sanders can raise more money than any other candidate without taking a dollar from special interests.

9. His message resonates with Trump voters.

Sanders beats Trump on grassroots fundraising, but he also beats him on messaging. Trump’s whole message is that he’s the only one capable of taking on the establishment. That’s a much harder sell when your opponent is Bernie Sanders, the guy who can’t be bought and never once took a dollar from the NRA or fossil fuel industry.

10. He’s a leading voice on environmental justice.

According to the latest polls, 91 percent of Democrats say they worry a great deal or fair amount about global warming. Millennials worry about it more than any other issue. Across political parties and ideologies, 70 percent of Americans want the government to take “aggressive action” on climate change. Sanders’ plan to invest in clean, sustainable energy and create millions of jobs in the process, stands in stark contrast to Trump’s insistence that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese.

11. He has more experience and organizational readiness than the rest of the field.

Sanders has unique experience as a Mayor, Congressman, Senator and former Presidential candidate. He’s already been vetted on the national stage. He’s been through most of the presidential election process, knows how to debate and knows how to secure delegates. He couldn’t have a more robust grassroots infrastructure in place and ready to mobilize. He has one of the most valuable email lists in all of politics. He has everything he had at the end of his presidential bid and everything he’s built since.

12. He has crossover appeal that his competitors lack.

As Sanders’ former campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, put it, “If you look at the sentiment of the people, nobody wins the presidency with just the people in your own party.” Sanders has “an incredible strength” in his “unique appeal” to independent voters, and even former Trump voters. It’s his crossover appeal that makes Sanders so dangerous.

“Yeah but he’s not even a Democrat.” Democrats must consider whether this is precisely why he’s so popular. More Americans identify as independents than Democrats or Republicans, so why not run one, especially at a time when the Democratic Party is the least popular it’s been in 25 years and Sanders offers an opportunity to change that?

13. He may not be a Dem, but he’s given Dems life.

Despite being an independent, Sanders remains the prominent voice in the Democratic field. He’s spent the last two years campaigning for progressive down-ballot candidates, introducing legislation to protect American workers and holding Trump accountable. He, more than any other American, popularized issues like universal healthcare, marijuana legalization and tuition free college while simultaneously destigmatizing socialism. The fact that even most Republicans now support Medicare for All is a remarkable development. It means there’s bipartisan support for one of Sanders’ trademark policies.

14. He’s stronger than ever due to the DNC’s reforms.

Looking ahead to the next primary, superdelegates will play a diminished role, which is gamechanger for Sanders. Aside from Clinton herself, superdelegates were the biggest obstacle Sanders faced in the 2016 primary. The Associated Press called the primary contest for Clinton days before California, the nation’s most delegate-rich state, even had a chance to vote, basing its decision on the superdelegates’ support for Clinton.

In 2020, Sanders can rest assured that the superdelegates won’t tip the scales in his opponent’s favor. Since passing sweeping reforms in August, the Democratic Party decided superdelegates will no longer be allowed to vote on the first ballot, meaning they can no longer determine electoral outcomes, except in contested conventions.

15. He may be in his 70’s, but so too are his main competitors.

Since Sanders has few others, his biggest perceived challenge in 2020 will be his age. He’ll be 79 on Inauguration Day 2021, but Biden will be 78 and Trump will be 74. Hillary Clinton will be 73 and Elizabeth Warren, 71. All the frontrunners will be in their 70’s.

16. He may be old and white, but minorities like him.

Another perceived challenge will be that he’s an older white man. But 73 percent of registered black voters and 68 percent of hispanic voters view Sanders favorably. Plus, Sanders has a proven track record of fighting racial and economic inequality. In the 1960s, he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and was arrested protesting segregation.

17. He may be a socialist, but so too are growing numbers of Americans.

“Bernie’s a socialist. America isn’t ready for that…” Actually, the numbers tell a rather different story. According to Gallup, more Democrats now approve of socialism than capitalism. And Millennials say they’d rather live in a socialist country than a capitalist one. Sanders has effectively destigmatized the socialist label. While all Democrats may not yet embrace Democratic Socialism, the vast majority do support Sanders’ policies.

18. He’s authentic.

Sanders, who’s known for straight talk and uncombed hair, isn’t slick like traditional politicians. As Paul Farhi of The Washington Post writes, Sanders is “too busy conjuring Big Ideas to care about such trivialities as clothes and hair.” In that way, he’s a unique antidote to Trump: he too defies certain political norms in a way that excites the public.

Last time Sanders ran, he was still the most popular candidate, but he didn’t have the national profile he enjoys today. The fact that he’s remained as well liked as he has, while becoming as well known as he has, is a rare feat indeed considering the amount of mudslinging and divisiveness in modern American politics. Sanders, who’s critical of Republicans and Democrats alike, stands out as one of the few authentic voices in an otherwise broken two party system that he insists requires a political revolution to fix.

19. He represents the change most Americans want.

American workers are sick and tired of a political and economic establishment that for decades failed to deliver. They want a candidate with the guts to take on the rich and powerful, someone who can’t be bought, someone who will fight for them, at all costs.

20. His interest in running isn’t for the power, it’s for the people.

When asked whether or not his former boss would run for the presidency again, Jeff Weaver said, “He’s very focused on the question of beating Trump and putting a Democrat in the White House. And if he runs it’s because he thinks he’s the one to do it.”

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Brian Hanley

Political Reporter covering the Bernie Sanders campaign(s): @huffpost, @nytimes @nymag @wsj @forbes, etc.