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If you want to see Democratic officials push liberal policies, argue for the policies themselves.

I often see people argue Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America (which is roughly true), so Democrats should just adopt his policies and they will become popular like him (which is not at all obvious, and probably wrong).

Trevor Timm wrote a piece for the Guardian entitled, "Everyone loves Bernie Sanders. Except, it seems, the Democratic party". This headline is unfair, misleading, and untrue. When you intentionally mislead people, you are lying to them. Lying to people is not journalism. It is unethical, and a poor basis for discussion.

Looking at polling from late last October until earlier this week, Bernie is consistently popular. His worst poll placed him at 52% favorable and 39% unfavorable, while his best (and most recent) numbers were a sterling 61% positive to 32% negative. Despite the author's claims, this was actually an outlier, and significantly better than most other polls conducted in the last six months (and roughly 5 points higher than his average).

Still, whether his approval numbers are in the 50s (as according to 8 of 10 polls since the waning days of October 2016) or in the low 60s (as according to 2 polls in that same time frame), that's damn good for a politician outside of some national crisis.

However, 30% to 39% disapproval is not the 0% you'd get if only some power brokers in one party were unhappy with the guy. That 30-some-odd-percent is clearly more than just Democratic party pols and apparatchiks. In all likelihood, the majority of disfavor comes from Republicans (****ing obviously).

Bernie's numbers are roughly in line with Barrack Obama's, especially in terms of approval. Yet Trevor Timm and his ilk don't argue Democrats should get behind the former president's policy positions, and ride those to victory. This shows the form of his argument is superficial, facile, and invalid.

Elections are not nationally decided. Local politics matter. Even national elections are decided state by state. If Al Gore had secured about 574 votes more in Florida, he would have won the 2000 national election. If John Kerry had won about 150,000 more votes in Ohio, he would have won the 2004 general election despite losing the popular vote nationally. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 by about the same amount George W. Bush did in 2004, but she lost the election.

Bernie's positive national favorability rating won't help Democrats in, say, Oklahoma in 2018 any more than Barrack Obama's did in 2016. Different values and issues are important in different states and localities. You probably can't win in a rural district running on an urban platform, and vice versa. You probably won't win in Texas running on the same issues that might easily carry you to victory in Oregon. As they say, "All politics are local."

But politics are also personal. Just because people like Obama (a centrist Democrat) or Sanders (a former socialist independent) doesn't mean they will vote for someone with similar policies. They may not even know what those policies are. They may not even vote. Democrats are notorious for not showing up to mid-term elections in the same numbers as for general elections.

Even with more reliable voters, this holds. Ronald Reagan was personally popular, but he couldn't help the Republicans overtake the House of Representatives (even in the landslide of '84).

To turn the argument around, Republican leaders are broadly unpopular. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has about a -17 point spread between favorable and unfavorable ratings. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, is just under -4. Donald Trump is at -7. Generically, while both parties are unpopular, Republicans are 5 points worse at -14. Remind me which party controls Congress, the White House, and 28 states outright?

If you're arguing along the line that Bernie has strong favorable ratings, so every Democratic politician should support or mimic him, you simply do not understand politics. This is not a criticism of Senator Sanders' policies or his actions in the Senate, but then the people I am critiquing didn't exactly offer praise for his positions, either.


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