I’m a progressive liberal and I’m not ashamed of that. So this is not a post that dispassionately analyzes the electoral college. In fact, this post is purely about passion. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear a friend of mine who is a registered Democrat bemoaning the fact that his or her vote doesn’t matter and that they are just giving up and will vote for Hillary Clinton if they decide to vote at all. Giving up, resigning yourself to a life of mild discomfort and then smoking some pot to make your life not hurt as bad is not going to make your life better. Let yourself get charged up. Let your emotions carry you past your limits. Take a chance on something you never thought possible. Even if you fail, you will get back up, smile and fight again.
The Man with a Plan
With that in mind, let’s talk about Bernie Sanders. For those of you who don’t know, he’s been in our House of Representatives for 16 years and the Senate for 9 more. That’s longer than many of my fellow progressives have even been alive. And the entire time, he has followed his passion, refused to dissemble and refused to compromise just for the sake of towing the party-line. If you want to learn more about his positions on issues that matter go here and check it out. The short version is, he cares about the poor and the middle class, he despises the corporate welfare state, he has witnessed so much “legal” government corruption that it has made him sick, he is against wars that America has no place in, and he thinks that American jobs and ingenuity can make us world leaders in clean energy production. In essence, he is as close as we have seen in decades to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Which makes a lot of sense because, in the 40’s and 50’s his parents raised him to believe in men like FDR. Leaders who could walk into some of the worst situations imaginable and turn around an entire nation even in the midst of one of the worst wars in human history. And now, Bernie can be that leader for our world.
Now, what I hear from people who lean towards the Democratic side of things, pretty much across the board, is that they would love to vote for Bernie – he’s 1,000 times better than Hillary Clinton, the war hawk, elitist who is in bed with big business and just carrying on a family legacy of political and economic authoritarianism. But they won’t vote for him because they don’t think an admitted socialist can win a general election. I don’t know where they were sold this bill of goods, but Democrats know how to read and understand basic math, so this blog is my attempt to show my friends how they are dead wrong.
The Electoral College Landscape
In order to win the Presidential election, a candidate needs 270 votes in the electoral college. It is fair to assume that no matter who the Democrats run, many states will never vote for a Republican no matter how “moderate” that Republican might be. All tolled these solid “Blue States” are worth 232 votes in the electoral college. These are very population dense states with Progressive bastions, like San Francisco, Boston, New York City, Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia, etc. No amount of socialism is going to make these states vote for Jeb Bush, Scott Walker or Marco Rubio. It’s just not going to happen.
So that leaves Bernie in a position where he only needs 38 more electoral college votes to win, from the twelve states that are up for grabs: Arizona (11), Colorado (9), Florida (29), Georgia (16), Iowa (6), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Virginia (13) and Wisconsin (10).
Of these, no matter who runs, a good handful are definitely going Republican. Immigration is simply too devisive in states near the Mexico border, so much as in Lincoln’s time, we are going to see a very vocal racial division based on misinformation and perceived economic realities. Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico just aren’t voting blue, no matter what. Florida will most definitely vote for Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, regardless of who runs from the Democratic party, so we will just have to concede those as well. Georgia is too close to call – it really depends on whether any Dem can get out the black and Hispanic vote – and without Obama, that is not a sure a thing. For North Carolina, the edge probably goes to Clinton – female voters are a big part of the swing vote and the state is big on military spending: Clinton may be able to pull enough independent votes here, while Bernie might struggle as a result of his anti-war stance and pro-government spending policies. Similarly, Clinton has money and influence in Virginia, so she is stronger candidate there, even though Bernie might be able to steal the state if he can grab senior citizen votes.
This state is a lock for Bernie. Bernie is a Vermont native, who understands and supports the New Hampshire “live free or die,” lifestyle more than any other potential candidate in the race. On top of that polls show New Hampshire voters care most about issues like free high quality education, funding medicare and social security, having a candidate who speaks to them directly, and who is honest and candid – someone who doesn’t hide the ball. New Hampshire will not support Hillary, but it will support Bernie without a doubt. 4 down, 34 to go.
Here, although it is not a slam dunk, Bernie can again go forward with confidence. Unlike literally every other candidate Bernie has a clear and concise platform that would create jobs (the number two most important issue to Wisconsin voters) and also pay for those jobs without borrowing money America simply does not have (the number one most important issue for Wisconsin voters). And unlike the “decided” states Wisconsin isn’t home to big corporate America. Taxing the very wealthy and taxing large corporations to pay for American jobs isn’t going to mean increased taxes to any of the Wisconsin voters – in essence they have no downside to voting Sanders. That’s 14 down, 24 to go.
Ah the land of legalized marijuana. This one is also a no-brainer for Bernie. He is the only candidate who doesn’t dissemble when he is asked about the topic of legalized marijuana. Instead he says, look to Colorado. “Colorado has led the effort toward legalizing marijuana and I’m going to watch very closely to see the pluses and minuses of what they have done.” Add to that his own admission to smoking when he was younger, his home state’s decision to decriminalize possession, and his general acknowledgment that the police have more important things to do, and Colorado has found its ally in making their economic windfall no longer beholden to the whimsy of federal law enforcement. Colorado, done deal: 23 down, 15 to go.
The big mama-jama. This is a state that I am confident Democrats will take in 2016. The Republicans are simply too boxed in to the anti-gay agenda, taking down unions, underpaying Walmart employees, and keeping immigrants out of the workforce. Ohio is a state that has blue collar in it’s bones, and where Walmart and car companies are still the backbone of the labor market. But Bernie get’s the edge because the one area where the state is truly divided is abortion – a female candidate is just going to push away the voters who are on the fence because they will fear that abortion clinics will suddenly pop up on every block if a progressive woman is elected. Edge: Bernie. That’s 41 votes, he’s got this. But let’s go for the blowout victory – there is no mercy rule in politics.
Jobs and education are really all these voters care about. And who has a clear, well articulated plan to address both of these issues? Bernie and …. no one. He is literally the only person promising full employment for anyone that wants it and a free college education for anyone who can get into college. Iowa to the man with a plan. That’s a grand total of 47 swing state votes that Bernie Sanders is MORE likely to get than Hillary. 279 total. Republicans go down.
And what is even better about this, is that unlike Hillary, there is no “Benghazi” scandal, no “email-gate”, no “Monica” moment for the Republicans to rally around. Instead, they will try to turn Bernie into communist Russia circa 1985. Not only will this tactic fail, but it will ignite a largely silent progressive Democratic group of voters, who will fight back with a passion we have been missing for decades. The Republicans will give Bernie exactly the platform he needs to point out their hypocrisy and ignorance. Have faith. Vote with your heart. Make America better.