The winning personality of Bernie Sanders is something to consider when assessing his chances to win the Democratic candidacy and ultimately presidency. His odds are likely better against Trump than they are against Biden.
Some recent polls indicators reflect that Bernie Sanders may be underrated as a candidate. Indicators show that Biden still has a comfortable lead. This is in part due to strong black support, whites over 50, and one of the most important questions facing democratic voters — who can beat Trump?
Bernie Sander is older, and some of his 2016 supporters may feel his time has come and gone. But Bernie has an appeal that this political psychologist sees as unique and well developed.
He presents himself and comes across as being “authentic.” In the age of Trump and his far-right program, Bernie does look like a very left-leaning Democrat. However, what will work in defeating Trump may just be in the foundation of Bernie’s personality. When he speaks he says what he actually believes and people/voters like that even if they disagree with some of his views. He may be older, but he is also fiery and passionate, and the takeaway is that he is a fighter for what he believes in. This is in stark contrast to what many voters have seen [during the past few decades]. Many voters have come to believe that politicians simply say what they think voters want to hear, regardless of whether they actually believe in what they say.
Whether voters like Sanders message or not, there are few that doubt his authenticity or passion. He presents himself as “this is who I am and you can make of it what you will’. Few, if any, believe Sanders to be fake or phony in any way.
Perception is powerful. Trump, for all his flaws, connected with voters in this same way. While many supporters recognize that Trump does not embody their moral values, they saw him as authentic, unafraid to say what he was thinking. This is, of course, a dichotomy in that Trump lies more so than any president in modern history, yet his supporters will say “he tells the truth.”. It may be Trump’s greatest parlor trick.
A typical ‘Winning Personality’ for a presidential candidate must, in my opinion, have four major traits or characteristics. Bernie has these features and it will be a plus for him as the campaign moves on.
First, Bernie is comfortable in his own skin. He is not trying to be anyone but himself. Secondly, he is very consistent in his views and thoughts and refrains from flip-flopping on issues. By contrast, President Trump has contradicted himself multiple times just this past week alone. Third, Sanders tries extremely hard to reach out to everyone. He is a man for “everyone,” not just a certain sector of society. And, finally, he looks and acts like a good listener. He actually interacts with people as if he were actually interested in what they have to say.
He may not catch Biden, who is a moderate-left, sensible, and capable replacement for Trumpism. But, he hs hung around polling in 2nd or 3rd consistently, and as a strong racehorse holds such position until making a move in the final stretch, so too may Bernie. Time will tell.
Of those who look and present like a “Winner,” Bernie has a strong set of credentials. Whether that is enough to carry him into the winner’s circle is questionable. Especially because Biden has thought very carefully about being the most sensible/capable replacement to counter the extreme Authoritarian Personality of Trump.
Joe Biden wants everyone to look at him and then take a good look at Trump once again. He believes in his heart that he will look like the most reasonable person who can lead the country to a moderate left scenario. But a new article in The New York Times suggests that Biden’s poll numbers might mask and ‘Enthusiasm challenge’.
Bernie has to be more left-leaning because that is who he is. To win he must put forth a winning strategy combined with his personality assets — especially being the most authentic and “real” independent-minded progressive in the field.
Winning Personality of Bernie Sanders
The voters will have an interesting choice in the Democratic primaries. If Bernie can stay close to the top, he can’t be counted out. Young people who were so supportive of him may be considering Warren, Harris, or even Buttigieg (the more intellectual and eloquent in the field).
Can his “authentic” personality and progressive ideas capture the candidacy? I’m a psychologist, not a fortune-teller, so we’ll have to wait and see.