Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) officially announced he’s running for president on Tuesday, finally putting to rest months of speculation about the septuagenarian’s 2020 plans. Sanders, who had a better-than-expected showing in the 2016 Democratic primary, may find it a bit tougher to recreate the magic this time around.
But the problems stacked against Sanders this time around grow bigger by the day.
1. The Field
In 2016, Sanders was able to turn himself into “the alternative.” While Hillary Clinton was the presumptive nominee, Sanders was able to appeal to Democrats who didn’t trust or like Clinton. With only a couple other nominal candidates, Sanders turned himself into the best option for Democrats who shared Sanders’ more liberal vision for the party.
The 2020 field is already markedly different. Not only are there already nearly a dozen serious candidates in the race, many of them are just as liberal as Sanders. He’ll have name ID on his side, but he’ll have to explain why he’s best suited for the job and the others are not.
2. His Baggage
Sanders certainly earned less scrutiny than Clinton in 2016, but he won’t enjoy that advantage in 2020. In recent months, allegations of sexual misconduct in his 2016 presidential campaign have surfaced and the Vermont senators was forced to address them. The #MeToo movement largely developed in the aftermath of the 2016 campaign, and Sanders will face questions about his staff’s treatment of women and minorities that they did not last time. How he handles these questions will go a long way to determine if Democrat voters trust he’s addressed the situation properly.
3. His Age
If he wins, Sanders would be the oldest president ever elected by far. Fairly or not, Americans voters will no doubt keep this in mind when they head to the ballot box, and it could hurt his chances. Should former Vice President Joe Biden also get in the race, Sanders would still be the oldest candidate by about one year. If he’s able to capture the nomination, special scrutiny will be placed on his choice for running mate and his medical report.
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Author: Jeff Bechdel
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