Pundits and pollsters have once again been proven wildly inaccurate by Donald Trump’s victory, but at least one commentator predicted exactly what would happen in a race between Trump and Hillary Clinton. And he did before either had clinched their party’s nomination.
In February, Current Affairs ran an article by editor Nathan J. Robinson presciently titled, “Unless the Democrats Run Sanders, a Trump Nomination Means a Trump Presidency.”
Robinson’s argument was quite simple: in normal election circumstances, Clinton would be a more electable candidate than Sanders. “She is, after all, an experienced, pragmatic moderate,” he wrote, “whereas Sanders is a raving, arm-flapping elderly Jewish socialist from Vermont.”
But this was no normal election—or, rather, Trump was no normal candidate—and so Democratic strategists (and Democrats in general) should have pushed the candidate who would match best against Trump, not against Republicans in general, the author argued.
Robinson wasn’t the only one to note that Sanders was a better candidate against Trump than Clinton was. He was just early to the game. On May 29, during an appearance on Meet the Press, Sanders himself noted that, “Right now, in every major poll, national poll and statewide poll done in the last month, six weeks, we are defeating Trump often by big numbers, and always at a larger margin than Secretary Clinton is.”
And he was right. On that day, according to poll averaging by RealClearPolitics, he held a 10.8 percentage point lead over Trump, while Clinton’s was only 1 point. And Sanders also beat Clinton in the Democratic primaries in Wisconsin in Michigan, two states that played major roles in her loss to Trump.
The basic issue is that Clinton possessed the exact weaknesses—the years of tabloid dirt, the FBI investigation, the terms in power—that were red meat to Trump. “[F]or Donald Trump, sensationalist distractions are the whole game,” Robinson wrote. “He will attempt to crucify her. And it is very, very likely that he will succeed.”
Against Trump, he wrote:
“… a Clinton match-up is highly likely to be an unmitigated electoral disaster, whereas a Sanders candidacy stands a far better chance. Every one of Clinton’s (considerable) weaknesses plays to every one of Trump’s strengths, whereas every one of Trump’s (few) weaknesses plays to every one of Sanders’s strengths. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition.”
That indeed is exactly what came to pass. And the Twitterverse did not let that go unnoticed.