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Bernie’s Shrinking Base

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Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to reporters in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

One of the most persistent lies about the current primary season involves the purported popularity of Bernie Sanders’ campaign and the claim that growing swaths of the American electorate suddenly embrace socialism.

Results from South Carolina, and from Super Tuesday,  should put that notion to rest: not only did Joe Biden crush Sanders by more than two to one in the Palmetto State, but Bernie’s bust confirmed a pattern of shrinking support in all of the early primaries and caucuses. In Iowa, he dropped from the 50% he won just four years ago to 26% this time; in New Hampshire from 60% to 26%. Even in Nevada, his biggest victory, Sanders’ percentage went down, not up—from 47.3% to 46.8%. On Super Tuesday, states that Sanders won last time against Hillary Clinton, he lost overwhelmingly to Joe Biden, who won 10 of the 14 contests on the ballot.

It’s true he faced more rivals in 2020 than in 2016, but his declining numbers—everywhere—still show many Democrats who backed him last time decided to support someone else this time. That’s a terrible sign for the Sanders campaign, but a healthy indicator for America.

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