If Trump Targets Debt-Ridden Sanders' Base, He Can Beat Biden

The stars are aligning for Joe Biden. The coalition that is abandoning Bernie Sanders for the dull but reliable war horse could put the former vice president across the finish line in November.

Democrats flipped 41 House seats in 2018 and did well in Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi last year with moderate candidates offering solutions to middle class problems. They defeated Republicans who ran on President Trump’s campaign rally staples — cultural issues, abortion and gun rights.

Many of the voters who delivered for those Democrats — African-Americans, college-educated women and suburban middle class — rejected Sens. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for Mr. Biden. Ms. Warren and the #MeToo movement may want to blame sexism, but the Democratic base has grown older and more moderate than the pitch of hard-left politicians. They reject socialism and gender-based politics — just as they do Mr. Trump’s anti-political correctness and nativism.

Disaffected blue-collar voters are a declining share of the electorate, but the really bad news for Mr. Trump is how much voter turnout is growing among Mr. Biden’s coalition. On Super Tuesday, for example, participation was up 70 percent and 40 percent in Virginia and Texas, respectively, over 2016. 

Contrary to thinking at the White House, the COVID-19, economy, bad messaging and inaction on critical middle-class issues will hurt Mr. Trump big-time in November. Paradoxically, if he looks to the disappointed among Mr. Sanders’ base, he can still win.

America’s experience with the Spanish flu a century ago provides critical clues about how the epidemic will play out this spring and summer. Then as now the illness was spread by respiratory droplets and primarily killed by inflicting pneumonia and other complications — especially on the old and other already vulnerable. State and local politicians and health officials were the frontline actors.

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Peter Morici is an economist and professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and widely published columnist. He is the five time winner of the MarketWatch best forecaster ...

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