Bye-Bye, Bernie

Former Vice President Joe Biden led in every Virginia locality but Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, and Floyd. Map credit: Washington Post

by James A. Bacon

If a vote for Bernie Sanders is a vote for the radical restructuring of the American economy and society, yesterday’s 2020 primary elections in Virginia were highly revealing: Democratic Party voters in the Old Dominion aren’t looking for revolutionary change. For the most part, Virginia Democrats are “establishment” Democrats who embrace identity politics and limited income redistribution but not a wholesale demolition of existing institutions.

Aside from ultra-conservative Alabama, a lower percentage of Democratic Party voters — 23.1% — cast ballots for Sanders than in any other state. I don’t believe I am engaging in editorializing when I describe Sanders, who has evinced a nostalgia for far-left regimes abroad and advocated Medicare for all, free college tuition, destruction of the fossil fuel industries, massive tax increases, and the virtual expropriation of billionaire wealth, as a far-left candidate. Two of the Virginia localities where Sanders won a majority were — surprise, surprise — Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, both college towns. A third, Floyd County, is a haven for aging hippies.

As bright, pulsating, police-siren blue as Northern Virginia is electorally speaking, it is Deep State blue, not overthrow-the-established-order blue. Biden trounced Sanders by nearly three-to-one margins in Alexandria and Arlington, and two-to-one margins in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

Washington Post exit polls shed additional light. Sanders performed better among men (29%) than women (19%), though still worse than Biden in both sexes. He performed best among Hispanics (33%) and worst among blacks (17%). He did better among voters lacking a college degree (26%) than college graduates (20%). The one demographic category where he triumphed was among young people. Among voters aged 17 to 29, he won 55% of the vote. That compares to 7% for voters over 65. Give it another ten years, and democratic socialism might stand a chance.

Virginia voters do not appear to be clamoring for Medicare for All. Fifty-two percent of primary voters support “replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan.” Of those 33% voted for Sanders and 15% for Elizabeth Warren, who espoused the most far-reaching plans. In other words, only half the Democratic electorate, which accounts for a little more than half the total Virginia electorate, supports the idea.

Elizabeth Warren came in third, and Michael Bloomberg fourth, both with roughly 10% of the vote. It is interesting to see that while Bloomberg’s money helped Democrats win an electoral majority in state races last year, it didn’t do much for him personally.

Note: Not every voter for a Democratic Party candidate was a Democrat. According to the Post poll, 7% casting votes for Democrats are Republicans. Whether they are Republican never-Trumpers or Rush Limbaugh-style “operation chaos” voters supporting the most unelectable Democrat is unknown. Regardless, there are not enough of them to affect my analysis.

Update. Drilling a little deeper, I have found a few other pockets of Bernie support not reflected in the locality vote totals. This map comes from the Virginia Public Access Project breakdown by precinct. The inner core of Richmond went for Bernie. Those aren’t all VCU students!

It appears that there is a considerable number of Bernie bros in the far Southwest as well. (This map also was extracted from the VPAP website.)

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18 responses to “Bye-Bye, Bernie”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    I’d heard that Hispanics tended to be “conservative”… hmmm

    perhaps what we really need to know is what percent of Virginia Hispanics are Dem and what percent are GOP. Clearly the ones that are Dem are all in for Bernie – perhaps over immigration or discrimination in jobs, etc? Be interesting to know more about that -and whether those Hispanics are actually “gettable” by the GOP.

    So anyhow, all this gloom and Doom in BR about “leftists” taking over Richmond – and doing really bad stuff and all that blather… one would have thought they were on that Bernie Train… no?

    1. WayneS Avatar

      I don’t think him winning 33% of a particular demographic’s votes means that particular group is “all in” for Sanders. After all, 2/3 of Hispanics voted for someone else.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        so only 33% of Hispanics vote Dem?

        If so, totally agree but still curious… you’d think on the Dem side some of them would go for someone to the right of Bernie…

        1. WayneS Avatar

          “so only 33% of Hispanics vote Dem?”

          That is not at all what I said. How in God’s name could you possibly interpret what I wrote as me claiming that 33% of Hispanics are democrats? I have no idea what percentage of Hispanics are democrats and there were no statistics or figures in the article that would even allow someone to derive such a figure.

          What I said is, since Bernie Sanders got 33% of the Hispanic vote in the democrat primary, 2/3 of the Hispanics who voted in the primary voted for a different candidate (i.e. “someone else”). It is a simple mathematical fact: 100% – 33% = 67%, or, effectively, 2/3.

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            where did the 33% come from?

            I think I missed that part.

          2. WayneS Avatar

            It was in the article: “He performed best among Hispanics (33%) and worst among blacks (17%)”

            YOU are the one who made the comment that Hispanic democrats are “all in” for Bernie – I simply (and apparently mistakenly) assumed you had read the article.

  2. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
    Jane Twitmyer

    “wholesale demolition of existing institutions.”

    The hyperbole about Bernie has been wild. To be clear I have not been supporting Bernie this time around … but he has changed the conversation. Our ‘existing institutions’ are not working for very many of us and here in VA I guess it is only the college towns that see how change is required, change that will fix Capitalism, not throw it out.

    Some corporations acknowledge that the short term thinking that has placed everything on quarterly profits needs to be fixed. These are not Bernie people. They are corporate leaders.
    From Bloomberg Business Week
    Many of the U.S.’s biggest economic ills—rising inequality, stagnant wages, low productivity growth—stem in large measure from corporate consolidation and monopoly power run amok. That’s the message from a new breed of policy wonk urging a return to the trust busting days of the early 20th century.

    Time Magazine had a whole issue centered on … “Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business”, a three-year research and reporting effort.

    Recent Books: “Fixing Capitalism, ” “Capitalism in Crisis: What’s Gone Wrong and How We Can Fix It.” “Saving Capitalism”
    Robert Reich in “Saving Capitalism” says we need to take back our ‘countervailing power’ from the large corporations with 3 changes … overturn Citizen’s United, eliminate the revolving door between business and government and require funding disclosure from so called ‘expert witnesses’.. Is any of that particularly revolutionary?

    He also believes that ‘shareholder ownership’ of corporations is a legal fiction and cites the dominant view of post WWII corporations that corporations had responsibilities to ALL of their stakeholders. Certainly a time of enormous growth and prosperity.

    Some corporations, about 1200 in 2014, had changed their articles of incorporation to become ‘benefit’ corporations, required to take into account the interest of the workers, the community, and the environment. States have changed their laws to allow these ‘benefit’ corporations to restructure their businesses.

    Lastly, Climate Change is finally taking hold in corporate America. Eco-friendly business measures naturally lead to savings. Practices such as energy conservation, recycling, use of water-saving devices, energy-efficient equipment, solar power and reduced waste help keep costs down, and have proven time and again to be far more efficient and cost-effective than traditional energy use.

    Yes, it means no more fossil fuels. IEEFA tracks 126 significant global financial institutions that have announced a coal exit to-date, but the transition is now also seen as an opportunity, part of the change to corporate structure away from short-term quarterly profits to the longer view.

    Nothing radical here. Just acknowledge that capitalism, led by the Chicago School, as it has developed over the last 40 years in ‘conservative’ America needs to change in order to continue to prevail.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Bernie HAS changed the discussion – especially about health care but some of his supporters are certifiable loons.. no question in my mind.


      1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
        Jane Twitmyer

        Hope you aren’t including AOC. I love her ability to make a great comeback and to shake up status quo!

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          THe right LOVES to demonize AOC and depict her as an example of the Dems attitudes.

        2. WayneS Avatar

          The Architect of the Capitol is a Bernie supporter?

          1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
            Jane Twitmyer

            No, No … not this time around, but I love that he has changed the conversation to question the wealth gap, the corporate power grabs everywhere, climate change and that our health care and its policies need help.
            AND I think that the DNC treated him very badly in 2016.

  3. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    So totally late to this due to other commitments, but as I review the results I see in many states the Sanders/Warren total exceeded 50%, or exceeded Biden or even Biden/Bloomberg. Bernie is not going bye bye anytime soon, certainly not if Warren departs (as she should). Anybody who is certain Bernie loses VA in the fall to Trump needs their head examined….Tuesday’s results nothwithstanding.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” It was in the article: “He performed best among Hispanics (33%) and worst among blacks (17%)”

    YOU are the one who made the comment that Hispanic democrats are “all in” for Bernie – I simply (and apparently mistakenly) assumed you had read the article.”

    It’s a little bit confusing.. extract from the original article.

    but I take responsibility for mis-reading and mis-characterizing it.

    next complaint……….

    1. WayneS Avatar

      Next complaint?

      A paywall keeps me from reading the WaPo story to which you provided a link.


      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        can’t help you with that… 😉 but unless I misread it – and you know that I can.. I thought it said 34% for Bernie and 26% for Biden and I am surprised as I’ve often heard that Hispanics tend to be more conservative though I admit that I do not know the “split” for all Hispanics between Dem and GOP so this is 33/34% of whatever the Dem split is.

        maybe here:

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” AND I think that the DNC treated him very badly in 2016.”

    I think I was ok with Bernie leading the left flank of the Dems and to have the concerns of his flock addressed in a more centrist Dem platform.

    But Bernie will kill the Dems – when the down-ballot Dems are caught up in the “socialist” mud slinging…

    If he leads the Dems, the Dems are dead.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      The record of the 2020 New Blue Virginia session will be front and center in that campaign attack, the bills that have passed totally, and the many bad ideas which passed the House only to be stopped or watered down in the Senate. The new House of Delegates will be held up nationally as an example of what this “change election” will portend.

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