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Bernie Sanders Reaches Frontrunner Status in CNN Poll

According to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has dramatically improved his standing in the 2020 Democratic primary race, as for the first time in CNN’s history of polling this race he has eclipsed Joe Biden. According to the poll, 27% of registered Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents support Sanders, whereas 24% prefer Biden. Though Sanders’ support is impressive, particularly considering his radically progressive policy agenda, the difference between Sanders and Biden is within the margin of error, meaning that this poll shows no clear frontrunner at the moment. That being said, Sanders and Biden are clearly in the lead compared to the other candidates; Warren ranked in 3rd place at 14% whereas Buttigieg is at 11%, with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg receiving 5% support. Andrew Yang and Amy Klobuchar each received 4% support among those included in the poll.

It’s important to note that while Sanders has made significant progress in the race so far, it’s still early in the primary season, as the first votes have not yet been cast. While Biden has consistently remained among the most popular choices for the Democratic candidate, last year he was briefly overtaken by Elizabeth Warren, though Warren has since fallen behind in the polls amid criticism of her Medicare-for-All plan and a personal dispute with Sanders over whether he told her a woman could not be elected president in a meeting between the two in 2018.

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As the primary process continues, the Democratic candidates have intensified their criticisms of one another; a recent Sanders ad questions Biden’s record on protecting Social Security, and Biden rebuked these claims with an attack ad of his own, accusing the Sanders campaign of lying about his record. These attacks have led Democrats to fear that the political damage that the candidates are inflicting on one another will hurt whoever ends up as the Democratic nominee, and these fears are magnified by the intense focus Democrats have on defeating Donald Trump in 2020. 

One of the key factors that influences voter turnout is enthusiasm, and fortunately for Sanders, 38% of Democratic voters say they would be enthusiastic about voting for Sanders in the general election if he wins the nomination, even though enthusiasm towards all of the other candidates has decreased in recent months. Sanders is also seen as the candidate who most often agrees with voters on the issues they consider to be the most important, and he also is considered to be the candidate who best understands the issues facing the American voter.

The current election cycle is a unique one in American history, as it represents an opportunity for Democrats to radically shift the direction of the country

However, at the forefront of most voters’ minds is the issue of electability, as Democrats across the board are most interested in nominating the candidate who stands the best chance of defeating Donald Trump in the general election. According to the poll, Joe Biden is still considered to be the most electable candidate by a significant margin; 45% of Democrats say that Biden has the best chance of defeating Trump, whereas just 24% say the same of Sanders. That being said, Sanders has made progress in this field as well, as increasing numbers of Democrats feel that he can defeat Trump, and indeed Sanders consistently ranks more favorably than Trump by several percentage points among voters generally, as do several of the other Democratic candidates. Unfortunately for the Democrats, Republican voters report being more enthusiastic about voting in the general election than Democratic voters do, a likely result of political fatigue after Democrats witness headline after headline of what they consider to be profoundly negative news generated by the White House and Congress.

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When it comes to the issue of which candidate has the best chance of uniting the Democratic party, though, Biden substantially outperforms Sanders; 41% of voters name Biden as having the best shot of uniting the party whereas just 16% say the same of Sanders. This is unsurprising considering Sanders’ record as an independent senator and a self-proclaimed “democratic socialist,” and considering his ambitious policy proposals, Sanders will have to get Democrats on his side one way or another in order to pass promised legislation such as Medicare-for-All, which is sure to be an uphill battle for him if he wins the presidency. 

That being said, the current election cycle is a unique one in American history, as it represents an opportunity for Democrats to radically shift the direction of the country, as the party is likely to embrace a radical set of policies in order to energize voters to defeat Trump in November. At this stage in the process, no one can say with certainty what will happen several months from now; however, recent polls give renewed enthusiasm to Sanders supporters, many of whom are still bitter about how the Democratic primary unfolded in 2016 amid accusations that the DNC was biased towards Hillary Clinton.

Democratic Party

New York Times Endorses Both Warren and Klobuchar for Democratic Nominee

Just days before the first votes are due to be cast in Iowa, the New York Times has announced that, in an unusual move, the editorial board has decided to endorse two candidates for the Democratic nominee. The two candidates, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, are the only two women candidates remaining in the race, and while their policy platforms differ in a number of ways, the editorial board has come to the conclusion that both candidates are equally qualified to beat Donald Trump in November and serve in the office of the presidency for the next four to eight years.

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The editorial board arrived at their conclusion by holding interviews with each of the major candidates vying to become the Democratic nominee, and found that although the public perceives the contest as being split between progressives and moderates, in reality the different candidates’ views on fundamental issues are strikingly similar. All of the top candidates, for instance, want to expand access to health care far beyond what the government has provided in the past, and each candidate has a vision for the federal government that differs sharply from the way it is run today. Indeed, as the Republican party increasingly slides towards authoritarianism in deference to Trump, the Democratic party as a whole has moved to the left, as positions that were once considered radical like Medicare-for-All have become mainstream.

While the editorial board acknowledges that the issue at the forefront of most voters’ minds is the question of who is able to beat Mr. Trump, it also believes that no one really has the ability to foretell which candidate is most able to do so. Instead, the editorial board focused on which candidates would be most effective at repairing the Republic and embracing new ideas, and the most competent candidates in these two regards were considered to be Klobuchar and Warren. Though both Sanders and Warren represent the progressive wing of the party, the editorial board considers Sanders’ age and health to be a major concern, and considers his approach to his policies to be too ideologically rigid. While the editorial board recognizes Sanders’ contribution of progressive ideas to the party, it feels that Warren has a better understanding of the fundamental issues that plague the country and how best to approach them.

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The second endorsement, Amy Klobuchar, was picked for her experience and effectiveness as a politician. According to the Center for Effective Lawmaking, Klobuchar is the most productive senator in the Democratic field when it comes to bills passed with bipartisan support, and while she is billed as a moderate by most voters, the editorial board feels that Amy Klobuchar might have the best chance of enacting a progressive policy agenda as president. Despite being labelled a moderate by the media, Klobuchar embraces a number of progressive policies, including transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. While the editorial board was concerned about reports of how Klobuchar treats her staff, it nonetheless considers Klobuchar to be the most competent and effective “moderate” candidate in the field.

Bernie for President Sign

Bernie Sanders Wins Support From Nurses Union In Major Boost For His 2020 Presidential Campaign

Senator Bernie Sanders has received a major boost to his 2020 presidential campaign from the country’s biggest nurses’ union.

Following their endorsement of Mr. Sanders in 2016, National Nurses United have chosen to support him ahead of Elizabeth Warren, who has also laid out her own Medicare for All plan as part of her own campaign.

Members of National Nurses United have been keen advocates in Democratic politics since they started supporting Mr. Sanders and have attended his rallies and events in red t-shirts as well as canvassing neighbourhoods in swing congressional districts. This is mainly due to Mr. Sanders’ plan for a nationalized health insurance system.

There was never any real doubt that the nurses’ union were going to endorse any other candidate after being so loyal to Mr. Sanders in 2016, however he was also the only candidate to attend an in-person interview with them asking for endorsement; Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, sent a three minute video, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts spoke with them via a video call while former Vice President Joseph R Biden Jr and Senator Kamala Harris of California both declined the union’s offer to interview completely.

Mr. Sanders’ biggest rival, Ms. Warren, has also announced plans for a single-payer health insurance but despite her plans the union has decided they actually prefer the original layout of Medicare for all and therefore have stayed true to Mr. Sanders.

Who are National Nurses United?

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Created from a merger of three smaller unions in 2009, National Nurses United has around 155,000 members and is a major advocate of the liberal policies Mr. Sanders is proposing. They also played a large part in providing healthcare to the Occupy Wall Street protesters who were situated in Lower Manhattan in 2011, as well as campaigning for a financial transaction tax and single-payer health care.

And it’s not just the union that has endorsed Mr. Sanders. It also comes with the support of the union’s super PAC, a difficult situation seeing that Mr. Sanders disavowed support from super PACs, as have most of the Democrats seeking the party’s 2020 nomination.

During the 2016 campaign the union’s super PAC spent $5 million backing Mr. Sanders in his campaign against Hillary Clinton, which although it sounds like a great sum Jeb Bush had $87 million spent supporting him during the same campaign.

Bonnie Castillo, the union’s Executive Director said the super PAC ‘will be activated’ on Mr. Sanders’ behalf, however none of the union members nor the super PAC would attack or criticize any of his Democratic presidential nomination rivals.

“We’re not going negative. We are a very positive force. It’s a reflection of who we are as a profession. We are healers.”

Mr. Sanders has vowed to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling that opened the door to the super PAC era, rallying against the influence of money in politics. And thanks to Mr. Biden dropping his resistance to accepting support from these groups recently, Mr. Sanders has become even more vocal.

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At a recent event in Marshalltown, Iowa, he was quoted as saying, “I don’t need a super PAC. I am not going to be controlled by a handful of wealthy people. I will be controlled by the working people of this country.”

He backed this up by saying ‘We don’t have a super PAC’ while attending a rally in Coralville, Iowa.

Yet Mr. Sanders has not denied any support from the nurses’ unions’ super PAC in 2016, although he has repeatedly pointed out that he does not have one of his own. In fact last Monday he was eager to thank National Nurses United for their support while ignoring its super PAC.

“What the nurses understand is that the current healthcare system is not only dysfunctional but extraordinarily cruel. Together we are finally going to do what should have been done decades ago and make sure that every man, woman and child in this country has quality health care as a human right.”

Currently there have not been many major labor unions endorsing and of the 2020 presidential candidates although Mr. Biden has received the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters, while The National Union of Healthcare Workers have not only endorsed Ms. Warren but also Mr. Sanders – with Mr. Sanders also receiving the backing from The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.

National Nurses United co-president Deborah Burger has confirmed that they will continue to fight for the winner of the party’s nomination against President Trump, even if that is not Mr. Sanders, stating, “We have made a commitment to endorse Bernie Sanders, but in the end we have made a commitment to our communities that we live in that we will do whatever it takes to defeat Donald Trump.”

Major Democrat Victories in Kentucky, Virginia

It can be tricky to try to predict the results of a presidential contest based on the results of an off-year election like the one held yesterday in the United States. But while the most recent election was not as consequential as midterm or presidential elections, the results nonetheless gave reasons for Democrats to celebrate and for Republicans to be concerned. In Kentucky, a usually deep red state and home to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is up for reelection next year, Democrat Andy Beshear beat Republican incumbent governor Matt Bevin by a slim margin. And in Virginia, as a likely consequence of a court-ordered redrawing of gerrymandered districts, Democrats won full control of the state’s government, paving the way for major policy changes including a higher minimum wage, stricter gun control laws, and the potential passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment that would ensure men and women are given equal rights under the law throughout the country.

Although Democrats have much to celebrate today, Republicans also saw some noteworthy victories. Perhaps most significantly, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves defeated Attorney General Jim Hood by about five percentage points for the position of Mississippi state governor, and the Republican party also gained some legislative seats in New Jersey. But on the whole, Democrats came out on top yesterday, making substantial gains in states across the country, including electoral victories in Pennsylvania, a state that could potentially be decisive for Trump’s reelection.

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Though Governor Matt Bevin has not yet conceded the race, the results of the election in Kentucky are unambiguous, and major news networks have called the race for challenger Andy Beshear. Bevin’s loss is particularly remarkable because of how it is connected to Donald Trump; Bevin ran his campaign by portraying himself as an ally of Trump’s, and the president even appeared in Kentucky to support the incumbent governor’s reelection. Bevin’s governing style, too, has been compared to Trump’s, as he is known for picking fights with groups who have opposed his policies, including teachers and police in the state. He also attempted to dismantle key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which proved to be unpopular with Kentucky voters. 

Yesterday’s results show how gerrymandering, when left unchecked, can totally transform the politics of an entire state in favor of the minority party.

As such, several commentators view Bevin’s loss as a rebuke of Trumpism, and have opined that suburban voters are revolting against the GOP in the wake of impeachment proceedings and a deeply unpopular president. However, supporters of the president argue that Bevin was a uniquely troubled candidate, who lost despite Trump’s assistance, and point out that the Republican party overall did much better in the state for more local candidates farther down the ballot. That being said, the news of the upset in Kentucky is certainly cause for concern among Republicans, who normally expect easy victories in the state. The full implications of their loss remain to be seen, but the results certainly don’t give Republicans any cause for optimism in 2020, particularly because of what they mean for Mitch McConnell, perhaps the most powerful figure currently occupying the Senate.

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The most substantial governmental change undoubtedly happened in Virginia, a state where elections for legislative and executive roles are held on off years like this one. Virginia has been in the news lately for the battle over gerrymandered districts which was recently decided by the state’s courts. In Virginia, courts ordered district lines to be completely redrawn after the 2017 election, after which Republicans maintained control of significant parts of the government despite losing the popular vote overall as a result of having drawn electoral maps in their favor, in a process called “gerrymandering.” After Virginia courts ruled that the gerrymandered districts unfairly favored Republicans who drew the maps in question, these maps were redrawn, paving the way for yesterday’s Democratic victory in the state.

Yesterday’s results show how gerrymandering, when left unchecked, can totally transform the politics of an entire state in favor of the minority party, and how court-ordered redrawing of districts can cause election results to line up more closely with popular sentiments. They also suggest that impeachment is not as effective as a rallying cry as Republican strategists have hoped, and that anti-Trump sentiment helps to turn out Democratic voters even in deep red states like Kentucky. Although Virginia went for Clinton in 2016 and winning the state is not essential for Trump’s reelection, the tendency for courts to redraw gerrymandered districts in states like Virginia has ominous implications for the Republican party, who depend on gerrymandered districts to maintain in both state and national positions, and are already beleaguered by rising national support for impeachment and removal of the president from office.

3 Women

Representative Katie Hill Criticizes “Misogynistic Culture” in Resignation Speech

Amid allegations of having an improper relationship with a campaign staffer, Democratic Representative Katie Hill stepped down from her position on Thursday, taking the opportunity to deliver a speech criticizing what she called a “misogynistic culture” that forced her to leave. During her speech, Hill pointed out a double standard in the treatment of male and female politicians, observing the hypocrisy of her departure due to a relatively minor offense when much more serious allegations have been levied against male politicians in higher-ranking positions in government. In her final address as a government official, Hill said, “I’m leaving, but we have men who have been credibly accused of intentional acts of sexual violence and remain in boardrooms, on the Supreme Court, in this very body, and worst of all, in the Oval Office.”

Last week, the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation of Hill after allegations emerged that she had violated House rules by engaging in a relationship with one of her male staffers. Hill denied this relationship, but admitted that she had an “inappropriate” relationship with a female campaign staffer. Complicating the story even further, Hill claims that her estranged husband helped spread the allegations, and potentially helped spread nude photographs taken of Hill, making her a victim of so-called “revenge porn.” As such, the circumstances of this story portray Hill both as a victim and as somebody who has committed wrongdoing, leading to a range of interpretations of her culpability in the matter.

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On Thursday, the former congresswoman apologized to her supporters for her inappropriate relationship, but also attacked the people who circulated her private images, of which there exist hundreds. “I am leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality, and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse—this time, with the entire country watching,” Hill said. Despite leaving her position as a representative, Hill vowed to take legal action against those who have victimized her, as she is being represented by the high-profile revenge-porn attorney Carrie Goldberg. On Twitter, Goldberg specifically called out the far-right media for their “audacity to peddle [Hill’s] intimate pictures.”

Hill’s final action in Congress was to vote to move forward with impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, whom she called out for being credibly accused by multiple victims as a sexual predator. For Hill, the impeachment of Donald Trump represented not only action against his corruption in office and his obstruction of justice, but his abuse of power over women, which has been well-documented, and to which the President has even admitted. 

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Democrats have struggled with their response to Hill’s resignation; many Democrats in Congress have said nothing at all, whereas House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said, “Katie Hill’s decision to resign is her decision. She’s an absolutely outstanding young public servant. Regardless of any errors of judgment they have made, it’s shameful that she has been exposed to public humiliation by cyber exploitation.” Representative Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, who frequently makes headlines for her strong positions on a variety of issues, argued that “a major crime” had been committed against Hill, and that the release of the nude photos by the far-right media and other bad actors would deter young women from running for office.

The allegations against Hill were published first by RedState, a conservative website, which quoted her estranged husband and posted a nude photo of Hill. Later, the Daily Mail published more nude photos of the beleaguered congresswoman. Joe Messina, a campaign adviser to Steve Knight, whom Hill replaced after the 2018 midterm election, told the Los Angeles Times that he had received hundreds of private text messages and nude photos of Hill by email and ordinary mail. Already, Republicans have filed paperwork to run for the seat vacated by Hill’s resignation, including George Papadopoulos, who drew headlines for pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia during his involvement with the Trump campaign. Christy Smith, a Democratic state assemblywoman, has also announced plans to run. Though she is stepping down from her position, Hill said that she plans to remain involved in public life, saying that she “[refuses] to let this experience scare off other women who dare to take risks, who dare to step into this light, who dare to be powerful.”

Podium Speaker

Andrew Yang Stands Out in a Crowded Field

Andrew Yang is not a typical presidential candidate. For one, his signature campaign promise, at first glance, seems patently absurd – if elected, he promises to institute what he calls the “Freedom Dividend,” a promise to give every American adult $1,000 a month, for free, no strings attached.