Five reasons why Sanders won't drop out of race

The upside for Sanders is that he keeps his issues on the public radar, and continues to nudge the more moderate Clinton to the left.

By Linda Feldmann (Christian Science Monitor)

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Published: Fri 29 Apr 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 29 Apr 2016, 8:43 AM

Bernie Sanders knows he can't win the Democratic presidential nomination. He said as much, even before losing decisively to Hillary Clinton in four out of five primaries Tuesday.
Yet Senator Sanders remains in the race. But he now fills a wholly different niche than he did even 24 hours ago. Gone is Sanders the candidate with a slim remaining hope that he could still be the Democratic nominee. Enter Sanders the message candidate.
And the message is this: that Sanders has tapped into a current of discontent within the Democratic base, particularly among young people, that's not going away. And he intends to press his agenda all the way to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this summer.
The upside for Sanders is that he keeps his issues on the public radar, and continues to nudge the more moderate Clinton to the left. The risk is that he looks like a sore loser, as some have called him, and prevents the Democratic Party from fully focusing on the task at hand: defeating the Republicans in November.
For Sanders, a self-described social democrat who has fought for decades on the issues now at the heart of his campaign, the 2016 race remains, in a way, a dream come true. The once-obscure senator from Vermont is now a national figure, with a national platform to press his cause.
And for many reasons, he truly has no reason to drop out.
Exhibit A is his incredible fundraising. Most candidates will stay in a race as long as they have two nickels to rub together, and Sanders has plenty. He has outraised Clinton three straight months - average donation $27, as the rally chant goes - and his "take" is accelerating. In March alone, he raised $44 million, a monthly record for the Vermont social democrat.
Exhibit B is his huge rallies. Who can argue with the exhilaration Sanders must feel when he takes the stage to address thousands of screaming fans?
Exhibit C is his party affiliation - or lack thereof. Sanders isn't really a Democrat. He may say he is (sort of) for the purposes of this presidential race, but when faced with pleas to step aside for the good of the party, he shrugs. In his world, the "party" is the establishment, and that's what he's fighting.
Exhibit D is the "what ifs." There remains a chance that Clinton could be indicted over her use of a private e-mail server, and her handling of information now deemed classified, while she was secretary of State. The financial doings of the Clinton family foundation represent more unknown territory with potentially bad optics.
If Clinton were forced from the race, Sanders would be the last person standing for the Democratic nomination. True, Vice President Joe Biden could jump in, though that would offend many voters' sense of fairness - especially the Sanders voters, whose support will be needed in November, no matter who wins the Democratic nomination.
Exhibit E is history. Many a pundit has pointed out that in 2008, after a spirited primary season, then-Senator Clinton dropped out of the presidential race and embraced her rival, Barack Obama. But that didn't happen until June of that year, after all the primaries were over. Then-Senator Obama still won the election.
So for now, at least, it's probably too soon to claim that Sanders is doing irreparable harm to Clinton's campaign. Clinton has high negatives for a likely nominee, but the Republicans are pounding her much harder than Sanders is. Remember that Sanders took one of Clinton's biggest Achilles' Heels - her e-mails - off the table in their first debate.
Let's also be clear: Even if Sanders doesn't actually intend to take his challenge of Clinton all the way to the convention floor in Philadelphia, why should he and his strategists say that now? In politics, candidates are fully "in it" until they're not.
- Christian Science Monitor

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