Why Sanders Won the Debate

While all the insider pundits proclaimed a Hillary Clinton victory, it is evident to those who truly understand the Democratic electorate that Bernie Sanders is the one who actually won. The result of the debate will be evident soon enough: Look for Sanders to move up in the polls and close much of the lead Clinton now holds.

Dick Morris 3

Clinton didn’t do badly. But Sanders won.

The leftist new Democratic Party is highly issue-oriented. Personalities and charisma are quite beside the point. It was formed in reaction to the Iraq War and has grown around the Occupy Wall Street and 1-percenter issues, and both of those issues were on prominent display last night.

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Each debate has two main purposes, apart from conveying a good image of the candidates:

–To identify the key issues in the campaign.

–To stake out the relative positions of the candidates.

Sanders identified and successfully focused on his two main issues: First, income inequality and the need to break up the big banks and second, the need for more restraint in committing military forces abroad.

Both are huge winners in the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton was forced to defend her opposition to reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which Bill Clinton repealed. Her proposal to regulate banks more closely sounded weak in comparison to Sanders’ support for breaking them up. Everyone knows that Clinton is awash in donations and speaking fees from the big banks and the Democratic Party left suspects she is coddling them.

In foreign policy, the new Democratic left was essentially formed in opposition to the 2003 war in Iraq. The reminder that Clinton voted in favor of the war and that she now advocates a no-fly zone in Iraq puts her on the hawk side of the dove/hawk divide that polarizes our politics.

These two positions, clearly articulated in the debate, will impel Sanders to a steep rise in the polls.

Only on gun control did Clinton stake out a position embraced by the Democratic electorate. Sanders’ pathetic attempt to distinguish between urban and rural gun control only emphasized how unacceptable his position is to the left.

Sanders was right to avoid criticizing Clinton on emails. It was a way of saying that we can vote for him without personally rejecting Clinton. He, in effect, gave voters in the Democratic Primary permission to believe Clinton is honest and trustworthy but still vote for him.

It is so indicative of the insider mentality of the pundit class that they failed to see how Sanders prevailed. They do not understand the left or the right. Their misreading of the Democratic electorate is as incredible as their inability to understand Donald Trump’s surge among Republican voters.

They just don’t get it.

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