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Assault on America, Day 421: R’s and D’s bet on boost in voter turnout in 2020. Will it happen?

Trump rally
Every four years citizens are “treated” to a slice of good ‘ol fashioned American political primary pie, where the 24/7 news cycle contains practically moment-by-moment coverage of the presidential horse race. In the somewhat rare occurrence of both parties engaging in active nominating contests, there’s a double-dose of excitement.

Such was the case in 2016, when Barack Obama served the final year of his second term and Republicans lacked a clear “next-in-line” type candidate (though both 2012’s GOP runner-up, Rick Santorum, and 2008’s GOP second-place finisher, Mike Huckabee, were vying for the title).

It goes without saying the intense throng of news exposure is helpful to the leading candidates in primary seasons. And if a guy or gal presents an intriguing public persona, the media’s fixation on that individual is even more useful. It’s the stuff of legend how then-newcomer Donald Trump received billions in “free” earned media four years ago, even if it was in the form of an avalanche of negativity (Trump wrote in the “Art of the Deal” that all publicity is good, even if non-flattering).

This is definitely the case for Bernie Sanders this year, though, unlike Trump in 2016, not all of his media stories are outwardly hostile to his cause (ho hum, it’s because Bernie’s a liberal, the same ideological predilection as those reporting on him). Nonetheless, since Sanders not only established viability but durability in the first three voting states (Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada), his pasty white 78 year-old balding scalp and scowling mug is plastered all over the airwaves and on computer screens.

Everyone’s noticed “The Bern”, and his odds of winning the Democrat nomination increased accordingly, so much so that pollsters are polling Sanders vs. Trump matchups for later this year. In the doing Sanders is showing surprising staying power, even when paired with his ridiculously annoying leftist ideological soulmate. Paul Bedard reported at The Washington Examiner, “While President Trump has been buoyed by polls showing he is favored to win reelection against a generic Democratic candidate, a potential ticket teaming Sen. Bernie Sanders as the presidential nominee and Sen. Elizabeth Warren as the running mate could edge out a win, according to a new poll.

“Zogby Analytics’ Jonathan Zogby told Secrets that a Sanders-Warren ticket is beating the president and Vice President Mike Pence 48%-45%...

“’Sanders and Warren could win the popular vote, but Trump and Pence still have the advantage of the coalition of working-class and blue-collar voters they made in-roads within swing states: Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which could produce a similar outcome as 2016, in which Trump/Pence just win the Electoral College and reelection in 2020,’ said Zogby.”

Yes, either scenario is plausible at this point. Even asking the head-to-head question seems absurd at the end of February, months prior to a Democrat nominee being named and a half-year before the incumbent president throws his campaign into high gear. Though Sanders is beginning to appear like a formidable frontrunner, there’s no guarantee he’s destined to end up with the big prize, and even then, it’s highly unlikely he would ever select his BFF upper chamber gal-pal “Pocahontas” Warren as his running mate.

Seriously? Would Bernie choose a granny-looking, white as a ghost, screechy voiced fellow senator from the northeast as his do-or-die political partner? Sanders wouldn’t be dumb enough to get down on bended knee and beg “Pocahontas” to enter his political teepee, unless he figured he’d gain votes by standing alongside someone who’s more off-putting than himself.

Here’s thinking “The Bern” would be more likely to proposition Tulsi Gabbard for his number two spot because she checks several key boxes for Democrat constituencies. Think about it. Gabbard’s as young as the Green Mountain State curmudgeon is old, an ethnic minority, incredibly physically fit (and looks it too), speaks well off the cuff, knows what she believes and leaves a positive impression on people who meet her. Tulsi shares Sanders’ staunch anti-war orientation, supports most if not all of his kook agenda (she endorsed him in 2016, too, which is probably why Hillary Clinton labeled her a “Russian asset” last year) and could be counted on to present a softer and more likable side to his “this is a revolution and we’re coming for you” candidacy.

Plus, Gabbard’s net worth is only half a million bucks – how positively ordinary! She and Sanders could easily go around bashing billionaires and other wealthy money chasers while whipping up the “bros” in the grassroots.

Normally, people don’t give a hoot about who the nominee selects (Did Hillary really choose the milquetoast and irritating Tim Kaine? What benefit did she derive from it?) but Gabbard would turn heads instantly. And the most important factor is many Republicans like her if not respect her, which means folks in the mushy middle might get used to the idea of seeing a Hawaiian non-Christian woman every day for four years. It’s the glass ceiling thing, right? If the identity politics people can’t get their female nominee this time at least they’ll have someone who’s only a heartbeat away. Just saying… didn’t Bernie survive a heart attack a few months ago?

Gabbard is eminently more qualified than “Pocahontas” Warren, Kamala Harris or Georgia gubernatorial loser Stacey Abrams, too. And after last month’s flap over Bernie’s “a woman can’t win the presidency” back-and-forth with Warren, Sanders wouldn’t dare choose a man. Sorry, Cory Booker. Not only did your presidential campaign crash and burn, you’re losing out in the race for vice president too because of your gender. All of these people would be handed (allowed?) cabinet positions in a Sanders administration, however, so no need to fret, folks!

At any rate, the point is that it’s too early to pit potential Democrat tickets against Trump and Pence and expect to get any worthwhile snapshot of reality from it. There’s a lot more liberal hand-wringing to come in the weeks and months ahead. Sanders has coasted thus far but will likely start facing more opposition, perhaps as early as this weekend (the South Carolina primary). Joe Biden still holds strong in the Palmetto State, and if the former Obama veep pulls off a win there (or even a close second) the media winds will rapidly shift back towards the establishment’s darling.

And then there’s Super Tuesday next week. With “Mini Mike” Bloomberg’s hundreds of millions dumped into TV ads, he’s bound to get some votes.

But even now it’s evident that 2020 will not be your average election with both party establishments tediously re-running their scripts, rallying the base and then hoping like heck to capture a big enough slice of the “independent” vote to prevail in the Electoral College. Most years the outcome is determined by 10-15 percent of voters who make their selection near Election Day and are typically swayed by last minute events… or heck, maybe even a coin flip.

Everyone remembers how Barack Obama surged at the end of the 2012 campaign, buoyed by his handling (from a media PR standpoint) of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and his infamous “hug” with GOP turncoat Chris Christie, who sold out his party in hopes of getting more federal aid dollars for his state. But then again, the Republican nominee was Mitt Romney that year, not exactly the most appealing alternative.

This time we appear to be headed for a stark ideological choice between capitalist-defender and populist-to-the-core President Donald Trump and “I’m a socialist and I’m proud” Bernie Sanders. Many are saying this is exactly what America needs, a down the line contest between worldviews and platforms for the future. The media will fan both sides’ fury in a Republican vs. Democrat matchup that promises to be even dirtier and nastier than four years ago (if it’s possible). Both sides are already dug-in regardless of who the Democrats put forward.

In an election where a few thousand votes could easily mean the difference between a President Donald Trump cementing his legacy as one of history’s most successful (and unique) presidents with another four years at the Twitter helm or a White House draped with Bernie Sanders Soviet red and transgender weirdos probably making up half his cabinet, both sides are pulling out all the stops to identify and shore-up new voters.

Turnout is key in every election, primarily if a candidate is able to stir former non-voters into participating. It ain’t easy. People who don’t bother with voting usually do so for a reason, be it apathy, laziness or disengagement.

Oddly enough, both parties claim new voters will fuel their movements in 2020. In any civil dispute, both sides can’t be right. Who will decide the winner? John Fund wrote at National Review, “The problem that establishment Democrats face in making the argument that Sanders would lose to Trump is simple. Bernie’s base of supporters simply can’t bring themselves to accept that their guy’s positions on issues could be less popular than those of Trump The Fascist. ‘Even if people give credit on the economy to Trump, his personality disorder will draw people to Bernie,’ Alice Charters, a New Hampshire Democrat told me this month.

“The problem with that is that a lot of Americans think that Bernie Sanders has a personality problem, too. He comes across as an irritable, red-faced scold, waving his arms while he calls for revolution, sort of the crazy uncle of American politics. Trump may come across as the neighborhood bully, but that persona is probably more appealing for many voters as long as they think he will protect their interests.

“I am inclined to welcome a matchup between Sanders and Trump, not because I’m enamored of either of them but because the campaign would be fought over an important issue: Should America move rapidly toward socialism? That’s an important debate to have, and in between the name-calling, perhaps the country would render a useful and definitive answer.”

Perhaps. We can only hope it happens. For their part, President Trump’s campaign is hard at work identifying those who would be “new” to the system. Statistics show about forty percent of otherwise eligible voters don’t cast ballots, providing a fertile field for a potential bumper crop of additional support.

Meanwhile, the Sanders people claim the same thing, suggesting the enthusiasm for Bernie’s candidacy is bringing in waves of never-before-voted people, mostly kids who’re cutting their teeth after high school or in college. Sure, real reliable group there! It’s borderline child abuse to expect the young and uniformed to march to the tune of socialism. They don’t comprehend it’s like signing your own death warrant.

Trump’s operation is kicking butt and taking names at his rallies – literally. As many as one-quarter of the attendees at Trump events would be first-time voters. That’s a huge orchard of low-hanging political fruit, just ripe for the picking!

It’s curious that in 2020, the establishment media doesn’t have to work hard to hype the upcoming election. Should the contest eventually boil down to Trump versus Sanders, there will be plenty of people participating who previously didn’t give a squat about politics. Who will come out ahead?

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