One more political quick hit, and that’s it, I promise.
It’s true that, for the moment, Bernie matches up more favorably against Trump, and has a much higher personal approval rating than does Hillary. I don’t think that would ever change. He genuinely seems likable (though that might be changing a bit), and Hillary has always had problems, partly due to her, largely due to other factors (such as lies, innuendo, and an idiot press). I can’t imagine a scenario where Bernie is less liked than Hillary Clinton.
That said, these numbers, which Sanders supporters use to say he should be the nominee (as opposed to millions of actual voters), don’t take one thing into account: namely, the right wing media has, since Clinton became inevitable, praised Bernie at her expense, and stopped criticizing him. If Sanders was actually winning, and had a shot, you’d hear the word “socialism” 400 times a day. They’d be conflating it with Communism, and calling him “comrade”, and talking about how “it isn’t a coincidence that his rise comes on the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, and is that what we really want?”, and I promise that you wouldn’t be able to drive through three consecutive counties in this great nation of ours without seeing his face and Stalin’s on the same billboard. If you can’t picture Trump going around saying “Listen, ok, no one knows history better than Trump, and communism was really bad, ok?” then you have a tragic lack of political imagination.
Socialism, thankfully, isn’t as much a poison word for people who grew up after the Cold War. But it still has an emotional sway with millions and millions of people, and if Sanders was the nominee, that’s all you’d be hearing. I don’t know if that would sink him, since he’d also get more airtime to explain himself, and why socialism is not un-American, but a genuine part, the best part, of our economic and cultural heritage. But it’s disingenuous to suggest that polling numbers would be the same if he was closer to the nomination, and the target of the same kind of smear campaign Hillary has been under for 30 years.