Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders — compare and contrast

Joe Trippi, who managed Howard Dean’s insurgent campaign in 2003-04, compares Bernie Sanders’ campaign to Dean’s in an interview with the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

Speaking of Trippi, why has Fox News replaced him with Bill Burton as its house leftist on political matters? Trippi is insightful and intellectually honest, plus he has run consequential political campaigns. Burton, a deputy White House press secretary for President Obama, is a hack mired in partisan talking points.

The sounds that Roger Ailes should be hearing every time Burton appears on Fox News are those coming from the channels that many of us are switching to (sports channels in my case) a sentence or two into this shill’s spiel.

Now back to Trippi, Dean, and Sanders. Trippi argues that Dean, who soared to front-runner status and then crashed, was better positioned than Sanders is now. Why? Primarily because Dean “faced three establishment Democrats not one.” Trippi recalls that “John Kerry, Dick Gephardt and John Edwards were three strong candidacies that were splitting the vote and donor support of the party establishment in 2003.” Now, by contrast, Sanders faces a candidate around whom the party establishment has coalesced.

It’s a fair point. On the other hand, the existence of three strong alternatives meant that if one, or even two, flamed out, the establishment still had a seemingly decent option.

By contrast, if Hillary flames out, suddenly a real possibility, there is no viable alternative to Sanders currently in the race. Her supporters would likely go straight to Sanders. In fact, there are, I suspect, plenty of Hillary supporters (I know some) who prefer Sanders’ record on policy but favor Hillary due to her gender or perhaps concerns about Bernie’s electability.

To be sure, there are seemingly decent alternatives to Clinton on the sidelines — notably Joe Biden. If Clinton were to flame out tomorrow, Biden would likely enter and the establishment would rally around him.

But the longer Hillary limps along, the less likely entry by Biden becomes. If Hillary flames out later rather than sooner, it may be too late for Biden, or any other quality alternative, to enter.

Trippi’s second point is that Sanders will have a very difficult time taking African-American voters away from Clinton. Dean did not face this problem. None of his opponents had an appreciable built-in advantage with black voters and, according to Trippi, polls showed that Dean attracted a goodly share of the black vote.

This, I think, is an entirely valid point. And it states the main reason why, even with all of her mounting difficulties, Hillary can still reasonably be considered the favorite to win her party’s nomination.