2020 Dem Primaries: The AOC Factor

Sanders' polling has been straight upwards since the day Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed him

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The talking heads have a lot to say about Sanders, but rarely do they offer explanations for his now four month long rise in the polls. When they do, they typically attribute it to Elizabeth Warren’s decline or, believe it or not, to his heart attack. Warren, the experts are certain, lost support because of Medicare For All. So, those same experts reason, the erstwhile Warren supporters went to Sanders, who also supports Medicare For All. Go figure.

There was something else, however. On October 19th, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced her support for Bernie Sanders. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar did so as well, at about the same time as AOC.

I still was Facebooking at the time, so I posted a link, with a two-word question: Game changer?

I think that post drew a dozen or so comments, almost all offering the same wisdom. AOC, my boomer Facebook “friends” explained, had the same support base as Sanders. So, obviously, her endorsement wasn’t going to mean much. Gee, why didn’t I think of that?

Actually, I had thought of it. I just had this insane idea that having the active support of the most popular politician among those who both are liberal and still have a pulse was going to be a factor.

Well, these things aren’t provable, but I still think AOC has mattered. A lot. And the endorsements of Tlaib and Omar have mattered as well.

Likability, you see, is huge. Sanders doesn’t do badly on that front himself. But take a look at that picture of him and AOC together. Does she make him ten times more likable, or 100? Probably somewhere in between.

Endorsements usually mean little. But not always. And when the endorsement comes from the most popular politician of her time, screams of sincerity, and is accompanied by speaking engagement after speaking engagement drawing ever larger crowds, it’s huge. Some might even say it’s a game changer.

It’s about to get a lot uglier in the Dem primary contest. The electability scolds are out in force with dire warnings about a Sanders candidacy. I dunno. I have this vision of a Bernie Sanders – Stacey Abrams ticket, with AOC out there campaigning for them. Seems electable to me.