Bambi versus Godzilla: the illusions of Sanders-supporters

Many will recall the classic 1969 animated film “Bambi Meets Godzilla” by Marv Newland; if not, take a look:


I am irresistibly reminded of this timeless story when today’s most-frequent rationale for supporting Bernie Sanders is uttered: ‘Polls show that Sanders beats both Trump and Cruz by a wider margin than does Clinton.’

The claim gets posted here quite a bit; a recent appearance is typical of many:*

And of course Sanders himself has been uttering the claim:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/04/03/sanders_clinton_is_getting_very_nervous_because_i_am_the_strongest_candidate.html

It’s possible that Sanders really does know better and is pushing this claim out of pure cynicism; it’s also possible that he’s begun to believe this foolish assertion. I take no position on that question.

But foolish it is. Or perhaps “delusional” is the more apt designation. And anyone who cherishes this particular illusion is–quite inevitably–going to have his or her heart stomped on conclusively and irrevocably. It will be Bambi meeting Godzilla all over again.

Who is Godzilla in this metaphor? The fact that the GOP is refraining from saying critical things about Bernie Sanders because they are delighted at the way he is damaging Hillary Clinton.

The GOP is not refraining from saying critical things about Bernie Sanders because they respect Bernie Sanders. That should be obvious, but apparently is not, to many Sanders fans. How many instances can be found on the Internet alone of people saying things like ‘Bernie is going to be a great President because he’s respected by friend and foe alike!’ (An example of this on this very board is what convinced me that I had to bring up Bambi’s fate when meeting Godzilla, as a matter of fact.)

Yes, there are people who actually believe the proposition The GOP isn’t criticizing Bernie now; therefore the GOP will not criticize Bernie if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

These people are wrong.

It’s understandable that the idealistic desperately want to believe in a politician who is Respected By All, and who is so good and noble that even enemies can find no harsh words to use in criticism. But that politician is NOT Bernie Sanders.

(Spoiler alert: this brand of idealism is always going to be crushed. Politicians are more respected or less respected, more noble or less noble…but not one has ever been found to be a shining idol of gold, pure and unsullied by compromise. The illusion that such can exist will always meet the foot of Godzilla. Demand transparency, yes–that is our best hope of good government. Demand a strong press, yes. But don’t expect to find a pol that *no one *will disparage.)
Polls showing hypothetical matchups of Sanders or Clinton versus any GOP nominee are fatally flawed, because they compare the chances of one person who has been slammed for years, with another who has benefited from his opponents’ wish that he get as far as he can.
*No link here as it’s not my intention to target an individual, but merely to illustrate a frequently-posted sentiment.

Those national polls don’t mean all that much in the first place, but yeah, it’s overly simplistic to look at them and conclude that Bernie will be the better candidate in the general. The GOP would looooooove to run against him so they aren’t going after him in the primaries like they are going after Clinton. Of course, they could be wrong…

I love that movie.

There are a great many people on the left who apparently sincerely believe the proposition, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a socialist, so nobody will think there’s anything wrong with a socialist.”

People can blind themselves about their favored viewpoints. It happens all the time. Much more so on the right than on the left, in fact. That’s why people on the left can’t see it in their own mirrors.

Yes; we do all have our illusions.

It’s just that it would be nice if those using this particularly egregious rationalization (‘vote for Sanders because he does better in polls against Trump and Cruz’) could be called on it, each time they bring it up. (Bernie, too. …)

Me, too. Still laugh at it, despite many viewings over many years! (How cruel!)

I don’t believe that the right is laying off of Sanders because they respect him. Nor do I believe that they’re laying off of him because they think he’s damaging Clinton. No, they’re laying off of him for the simple reason that they consider him irrelevant. They judged that Clinton was going to win the primary, and so Clinton was who they were going to face in the general, and so Clinton was the one that it paid to attack. Presumably they would have changed tactics if Sanders had taken the lead, but that didn’t happen.

And it’s true that it’s been to Sanders’ advantage in the polls that they haven’t been attacking him. But that said, I don’t actually think that he’s all that vulnerable to attack. What can they call him that he’s not already calling himself? Sure, there are people who will be reflexively against any socialist… but those people are already against Sanders. That’s baked into his current poll numbers.

And on the gripping hand, electability doesn’t actually matter in this cycle. There’s no difference between leading by 10 and leading by 15. If either Democrat faces Trump, they’ll win, because too many people hate Trump. If either Democrat faces anyone but Trump, they’ll still win, because any process that leads to anyone but Trump also leaves the Republican candidate mortally wounded.

Or more dangerously in this case: “Sanders isn’t suffering from negative campaigning. So he must be immune to negative campaigning.”

Meanwhile the entire right wing media is gathering behind Sanders with baseball bats waiting to pummel him the second he gets the nomination.

Oh, it will, it will. But I doubt anything it has to say will mean much to swing voters. “Socialist? Yeah, I know, he always said that, didn’t he?”

Nobody knows that Sanders has always been saying that, certainly not the huge percentage of the population that hasn’t tuned in yet.

You might also reflect that America is now in the most isolationist, anti-foreigner mood since possibly before WWII. A European Socialist will be turned into ISIS.

It’s delusional to think otherwise, but fortunately we’ll never know.

Didn’t a lot of Democrats support McCain against Bush in 2000 for the same reasons?

A lot of Democrats actually liked McCain. There are two ways to approach your opposition’s primary as a voter. Either you want a guy easier to beat, or you want a guy who you wouldn’t hate seeing President. In Sanders’ case, he’s easier to beat than Clinton, although that assumption could be wrong given the current national mood against career politicians. Clinton might actually find herself up against a perfect storm once she wins the nomination.

But in McCain’s case, I think Democrats thought that he wouldn’t be terrible as President in 2000, plus he was an antidote to Clinton fatigue, so why not? I think a lot of Republicans felt that way about Joe Lieberman in 2004. And a lot of Democrats crossed over in New Hampshire to support John Huntsman in 2012.

Great thread! Several good posts, but the two from Exapno are especially primo.

The polls don’t take into account that voters are distracted right now. They can’t make national projections because right now there’s nothing to project. Voters from opposing and ‘undecided’ factions haven’t had an opportunity to focus on a head-to-head match-up between Cruz vs Sanders.

One huge factor is whether Trump ends up running as an independent. If he does, then I think Sanders would, like Clinton, have more than a puncher’s chance to pull it off. In the end, though, I don’t think Donald Trump really wants to be president. I think he wants to go around telling people that he could have been, and should have been, but got screwed somehow and leave it at that. He wouldn’t enjoy being president and he knows that.

If you want to know how Sanders would fare against Cruz, look at how they performed in each state and look at how the past elections have gone. Florida would almost certainly go to Cruz, as Clinton dominated Sanders among retirees. There’s also probably going to be a hangover effect against Democrats in general for Obama’s Cuban policy (Clinton would probably lose there, too, actually). Where Clinton would be more competitive against Cruz is in Ohio, where she easily beat Sanders in the primary and where Cruz struggled a little against Cruz and the hometown governor. Cruz would probably beat Sanders there, though, and that would probably clinch the nomination for Cruz, and here’s why: Wisconsin, by virtue of Scott Walker’s devious voting laws, will very likely go red this time. Wisconsin + Florida + Virginia + Ohio = Cruz beating Sanders.

Now if Trump actually does get mad enough at the Republicans to run a 3rd party campaign out of spite, then he would be an obvious game changer. Cruz would probably need to beat Trump by a 2-1 margin, which is doable in some states but not in all. Moreover, the Cruz campaign would now suddenly have to defend states that are typically ‘locks’ for republican candidates.

Whaaat now?

Nice straw man OP has set up.

No, the point is simple. The right wing will demonize any Democratic President as an evil leftist. (And Democrats will elect him anyway.)

Nominate a black, get a racist response. Nominate a woman, get a sexist response. Nominate a Jewish social democrat, get denunciation of him as a Communist Christ-killer. But progressive Democrats have already been defined in general as pinko Jew-boys. At least with ‘Evil Communistic Serpent-Seed Anti-Christ Bernard “Satan” Sanders’ in the White House, the person being denounced as a terrible, horrible socialist will actually be a pretty reasonable leftist instead of a centrist like Obama or Clinton. This will leave space for moderates to stake out there own not-so-communist stances without being mistaken for ‘left of the Left Pole.’

Er, ‘their own…’

OP is likely correct, and I should apologize for getting so hysterical. In self-defense, I’m still not too optimistic about the outcome of the November election—perhaps the most important of a generation—and am saddened that likeable Biden (probable shoo-in) won’t be running. And some analysts do suggest that likeability is more important than ideology.

We can already predict, with near-certainty, the biggest vote-getter in November:
Democrat candidate – about 30%
GOP candidate – at most 30%
Can’t be bothered to vote – over 40%
I don’t think the election will be decided by “centrists” choosing between Hillary and Cruz—and anyone so confused as to debate this choice at all knows little about “ideology.” The election will be decided by who’s inspired to vote at all. Trump’s support comes, in large measure, from “red-neck” types who couldn’t be bothered to vote before. Sanders has inspired youth, another group which tends not to vote at all.

But I hope Sherrerd is correct, and will happily eat humble-pie when Hillary trounces the GOP nominee in November. :wink:

The thing with Hillary is that she has a very narrow range. A high floor and a low ceiling. The polls against Trump probably represent a true ceiling in her support- 49.4%.

And the polls against Kasich probably represent her floor- 41%.

Whether or not Clinton becomes President depends on her not at all. Her positives and negatives are already known by most voters, so those votes that aren’t already hers(anything over 41%), are waiting to see who the Republican nominee is.

I mostly agree, the GOP hasn’t been attacking Sanders because it seems unlikely that he’ll be the nominee, so there hasn’t been the need to attack him. But I’m sure if he does get the nomination, the attacks will start coming pretty quickly.

But I disagree that he’s not vulnerable to attack, because basically any candidate would be vulnerable. Sanders is still a relatively unknown person, so if it’s brought up in attack ads or by surrogates that he did X thing in college, or that he’s been greatly influenced by communist criminal Y, or that he voted for and supported terrible law Z, most people wouldn’t immediately know if that was true or false, or if it was a true molehill made into a mountain. He’s already seen as a socialist, you could find any number of things related to that and spin them bigger to scare some moderates away.

But even with all the attacks, Sanders would probably still win against Trump, because Trump is disliked that much.

If likeability is the thing, then anyone against Trump will win, because Trump is hugely disliked. There’s a recent New York Times article about the polls, but if you look up Trump favorability ratings, all of them talk about how high his numbers are. Clinton’s are high, but Trump’s are higher than anyone. From the NYT article:

It looks likely that against either Clinton or Sanders, Trump would be defeated. I don’t know if by a small or large amount, but it’s unlikely Trump will win. Polls can change, but considering how Trump has been this whole election, I just don’t see how Trump can win back many women or immigrants or Muslims or Mormons or anyone else he’s offended.

If Bernie wins New York, even by a small margin everything could change. It’s very unlikely to happen, but not impossible either. This primary season has so far provided some low values of impossibility.

The problem Hillary faces is that she is not well liked by the major parties or independents. Luckily the GOP has little to no chance of producing a candidate more acceptable to the public than Hillary is.