Although Senator Bernie Sanders recently stated that he did not take his "head-run" status so seriously, the undeniable fact remains that he is in the vanguard of group of Democrats. A few years ago, it would have seemed inconceivable for a Jewish septuagenarian who introduced himself as a democratic socialist to be considered a presidential candidate even semi-viable, Sanders was at or near the top of the Democrat poll – behind Joe Biden, who has still not specified his intentions – since the time the 2016 election has ended.
However, the reality is that Sanders' views are considerably to the left of any presidential candidate of the big parties recently. The question remains: could he become our next president?
One of the benefits of Sanders, especially in a race that quickly approaches the 20 candidates, is that its base seems particularly faithful.
Kyle Kondik, director of Sabato's Crystal Ball, does not seem convinced. "Some of Sanders' support probably depends on the name of his name, and it may not be solid," he told Salon via email. Sanders "has however a solid base of 20 to 25%, which is not nothing in a big field".
Kondik continued: "In a sense, that's how Donald Trump won in 2016. On a big pitch, he had a support floor almost everywhere, and that floor went up as other candidates have withdrawn. "
That does not mean that a Sanders victory is guaranteed. If non-Sanders alternatives are able to unite behind a more moderate candidate – most likely Biden, but perhaps also Sen. Kamala Harris or Beto O. Rourke or Pete Buttigieg – as the only choice " 'Settlement', Sanders' loyal frame the fans may not be enough to push him over.
Yet a precedent has been set for events to take place in order to lead to the appointment of Sanders. If it really happened, could he have been elected? Could he defeat Donald Trump?
"Honestly, I think it would be very difficult," said Will Marshall, president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute, a left-center think tank. "Bernie is a bit like Trump, he has a solid core of support, it's a very impressive feat, he's stuck with them all the way through this cycle, this time he's not running into an underdog, but in the lead, so it's a different situation for him.
"I think that he had a lot of support [in 2016] it was to protest against the Democratic establishment, perhaps Hillary Clinton personally. The question is whether Bernie as an autonomous proposition is as powerful as Bernie as a place to protest what you do not like in your party. Then we'll see.
"But here's the thing," said Marshall. "The election is going to be determined, most likely, in the Upper Midwest, in the same battlegrounds that Donald Trump won last time and shocked Hillary Clinton.That means Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan. can also launch in Iowa. "So does Bernie Sanders widen the map of Democrats in these areas? Does he appeal to traditional voters? And I see no evidence of that. I think it's the big challenge for Bernie Sanders and I'm not sure how he overcomes them. "
Kondik was more reluctant to draw this conclusion about Sanders' election suitability, stating that he did not see "sufficient evidence at this stage" to say whether Sanders' more leftist positions would be a huge handicap during a general election. "It's easy to say that some candidates are too extreme to win – it's possible that Sanders will, and the Republicans will argue, but there is no guarantee that the attack will work."
Is anti-Semitism a factor? "Potentially, but I doubt it," Kondik said. "Sanders does not wear his religion on his sleeve and I suspect that those who will not vote against him will be more motivated by other factors, such as his left-wing point of view on a number of issues." Anti-Semitism is a pernicious epidemic (…) and Sanders would be the first candidate for the Jewish presidency of either party. "
I do not try to say that Sanders should be our next president, or that he should not do it. I only wonder if Sanders' ideology, which differs strikingly from that of the most recent Democratic candidates, will prove disqualifying. Again, before 2016, a person without political or military experience would never have been considered a serious candidate – and yet our president is a real estate developer and a former reality TV actor.
In a country that could elect Trump, it is wise not to exclude any candidate on the basis of a political precedent. There is a plausible path to Bernie Sanders' appointment and even election. He must therefore be considered a favorite of the Democratic candidacy at the moment, whether he takes it seriously or not.