Former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile’s tell-all revelation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign team had been given effective control in the spring of 2015, raises a very interesting question.
Had the DNC maintained its independence and neutrality, would Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have won the Democratic nomination? And would he have beaten Donald Trump in the general election of 2016?
Brazile maintained that the Clinton take-over of the DNC ensured that she would receive the party’s nomination. In a word, the system as “rigged.”
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During the Democratic Primary it became increasingly clear that DNC Chair, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, who was quite close to Clinton, did what she could to help her friend get the nomination. Most notoriously, she scheduled as few campaign debates as possible, and even those were at times when the fewest possible number of viewers would watch.
And then too, Brazile herself, had been caught providing Hillary Clinton with at least one debate question in advance. Over the course of the Democratic Primary, it became quite obvious that the DNC had provided Clinton with a tremendous home field advantage.
On election night, as the surprising results poured in from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and other rust-belt states, TV commentators quickly concluded that millions of white working- class women and men had voted for Donald Trump. They provided his margin of victory in the electoral college. Indeed, even after the extremely damaging revelations from the infamous Access Hollywood tapes, Trump still managed to receive more votes from white women than Clinton, who had largely based her campaign largely on the hopes of becoming the first female president.
Moving right along, let’s now consider what might have been had Bernie Sanders received the Democratic nomination. Would he have done better than Clinton among white working class voters?
We know that during the Democratic Primary, he beat Clinton consistently among these voters. It would be reasonable to assume that more of these voters would have voted for Sanders had he been the Democratic presidential candidate against Trump.
But wait, folks, that’s not all! In poll after poll during the spring of 2016, Sanders consistently beat Trump, usually by double-digits. And while polls are not always reliable predictors of how people will vote, it seems pretty obvious that Sanders stood a much better chance going head-to-head with Trump than Clinton did.
We will never know for sure if Sanders would have beaten Trump in 2016. But as things turned out, Trump’s derogatory appellation, “Crooked Hillary” was not inaccurate.
Full disclosure: Bernie Sanders and I ran track together in high school, and were college roommates for one semester.
About the Author
Steve Slavin has a PhD in economics from NYU, and taught for over thirty years at Brooklyn College, New York Institute of Technology, and New Jersey’s Union County College. He has written sixteen math and economics books including a widely used introductory economics textbook now in its eleventh edition (McGraw-Hill) and The Great American Economy (Prometheus Books) which was published in August.