Not all that long ago, the cult of Bernie Sanders seemed immovable and impermeable. Most people understood that he had no chance of winning anything, yet there was a passionate contingent of the base that would cling to him no matter what.
That passionate contingent is still there, but Bernie is bleeding badly at the polls.
What’s going on?
1. Bernie’s campaign lacks excitement. The Bernie cult was the creation of former Obama people who had been shut out by Hillary Clinton. They had originally banked on Elizabeth Warren, but she had refused to run in 2016. It was easier to build up Bernie when the only other game in town was the thrill-a-minute ride that was Hillary Clinton, and a handful of sleepy and inept rivals.
Now there’s too much going on. And Bernie’s campaign lacks excitement and momentum. Much like its leader. In 2016, Bernie’s shtick was novel. It isn’t anymore. There’s too much drama going on elsewhere and, aside from a speech defending socialism, he’s got nothing in the way of friction.
2. Bernie shot himself in the foot when endorsing the ACLU’s call for felon voting. His numbers seemed to get shaky around that point. Even though a little less than half of Democrats seemed on board, his actual defense of the Boston Bomber voting from prison seemed like a Trump campaign ad.
… And that brings us to…
3. The Dems, even the hard lefties, are looking for electability. And nobody really believes Bernie is it. Not against Biden. So portions of his base are switching to candidates who seemed like they might have a shot at breaking out, like Elizabeth Warren. That seems almost as delusional, but Warren, with her barrage of 5-year-plans, has swallowed a chunk of Bernie’s support.
Overall, I would peg to this to political fatigue. Going in, Bernie had name recognition and didn’t do much with it. He may have blown his last chance with that democratic socialism speech. It impressed his base, but not the base.