Who is Bernie Sanders?
Current job: US senator from Vermont. Running for president of the United States as a Democratic candidate.
Family: Sanders is married to political consultant Jane Sanders, and has one biological son (Levi) from a previous marriage and three stepchildren (Heather, Carina, David).
Hometown: Burlington, Vermont
Political party: Independent but caucuses with Democrats
Previous jobs: Mayor of Burlington from 1981 to 1989. Member of the US House of Representatives from Vermont’s at-large district from 1991 to 2007.
Who is Bernie Sanders’ direct competition for the nomination?
Based on a recurring series of national surveys we conduct, we can figure out who the other candidates competing in Bernie Sanders’ lane are, and who the broader opponents are within the party.
- Despite their ample political differences, as the two most popular candidates with experience running for the presidency both Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden would be satisfactory to large groups of people who said they will vote in the Democratic primary. All told, about 60% of people who’d be satisfied with Sanders as nominee would also be satisfied with Biden as the nominee.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren is also popular among those who’d be satisfied with Sanders. Indeed, Warren is in the unique position of being the only contender as or more popular among Sanders supporters than she is among Democratic primary voters as a whole. Of those who’d be satisfied with Sanders as nominee, just under half said they’d also be satisfied with Warren as nominee.
- Much like Biden supporters, the people who would be satisfied with Sanders as nominee are unique in that they areverycool on other Democrats. Let’s compare people who like Sanders as nominee with the general set of Democratic primary voters. The percentage who would be satisfied with Kamala Harris as nominee is 15 percentage points lower than the overall set of Democrats. We see numbers that are nearly as bad for O’Rourke, Booker and Castro. This was worse earlier in the cycle, so we’ll potentially see Sanders fans warm up to other people in the field.
INSIDER has been conducting a recurring poll through SurveyMonkey Audience on a national sample to find out how different candidate’s constituencies overlap. We ask people whether they are familiar with a candidate, whether they would be satisfied or unsatisfied with that candidate as nominee, and sometimes we also ask whether they think that person would win or lose in a general election against President Donald Trump.
What are Bernie Sanders’ political positions?
- Sanders is leading the charge for universal healthcare, which has become popularly known as “Medicare-for-all” and is being embraced by most 2020 Democrats. He sponsored a bill pushing for this in 2017. Under Sanders’ plan, every American would be provided with health insurance through Medicare and private insurers would be eliminated.
- “The goal of health care must be to provide quality care to all in a cost effective way, not tens of billions in profits for the insurance companies and outrageous compensation packages for CEOs,” Sanders said in a campaign speech in California in late March.
- Sanders reintroduced the Medicare for All bill in April. “The American people are increasingly clear. They want a health care system which guarantees health care to all Americans as a right,” Sanders said in a statement. “In other words, they want Medicare for All, and that’s what we will deliver to them.”
- Sanders, who has referred to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies as “heartless,” wants to offer a pathway to citizenship to most undocumented immigrants and supports comprehensive immigration reform.
- One of Sanders’ top 2020 staffers is an undocumented immigrant living in the US under protections via Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). His campaign has defended this choice against criticism from conservatives.
- Sanders has called for restructuring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stating, “We must not be about tearing small children away from their families.”
On climate change:
- Sanders is a co-sponsor of a resolution known as the “Green New Deal,” which is a plan to transition the US to 100% clean and renewable energy within the next decade.
- The Vermont senator has been vocal on environmental issues for decades and has criticised the media for not focusing enough on climate change.
- Sanders frequently rails against the fossil fuel industry and has vowed to stop allowing it to “destroy our planet for profit” if he wins the election.
On campaign finance:
- Sanders has zeroed-in on campaign finance reform for years.
- Sanders gained popularity in 2016 by refusing corporate donations and looking to small donors to fund his presidential campaign. He’s continuing with this policy in 2020.
- He’s pushed for a constitutional amendment that would “effectively prevent corporations from bankrolling election campaigns, and would give Congress and the states explicit authority to regulate campaign finances.”
- Sanders has referred to Citizens United as “one of the worst decisions ever brought about by the Supreme Court of this country.”
- Sanders has said “abortion is health care” and “the decision about abortion must remain a decision for the woman and her doctor to make, not the government.”
- He believes abortion should be legal and in 2018 voted against a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks.
- “We must stand up and fight any and all attempts to undercut Roe v. Wade,” Sanders said in a November 2018 tweet. “We must protect and expand a woman’s right to abortion and reproductive health care services.”
- Sanders says he opposes the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding from going toward abortion services.
- “If we believe that a woman has the constitutional right to control her own body, that right must apply to ALL women, including low-income women,” Sanders said on June 6. “That is why I have consistently voted against the Hyde Amendment and, why as president, I would eliminate it.”
On LGBTQ rights:
- Sanders has long been a supporter of the LGBTQ community.
- In 1983, as mayor of Vermont, he signed a Gay Pride Day proclamation. He voted against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 1993 and supported civil unions in Vermont in 2000.
- He was one of 67 members in the House to vote against the Defence of Marriage Act in 1996. He spoke out in favour of gay marriage as early as 2009.
- Sanders opposes laws that prevent transgender people from using bathrooms of their choice, declaring that “transgender discrimination has no place in the world.”
- Sanders also opposes Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the US military.
- Sanders supports making public college and universities tuition-free for undergraduate students.
- Unders Sanders’ College for All Act, the federal government would cover 67% of this cost, while the states would be responsible for the remaining 33% of the cost.
- Sanders has also pushed for drastically lowering student loan interest rates, stating it’s “revolting” the federal government makes “billions in profits off of student loans each year.”
On Supreme Court and congressional issues:
- While other 2020 Democrats have expressed support for increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court, Sanders has not been particularly outspoken about this.
- “My worry is that the next time the Republicans are in power they will do the same thing,” Sanders said on court packing. “So I think that is not the ultimate solution.”
- Sanders said he’s open to some form of term limits for Supreme Court justices.
- “What may make sense is, if not term limits, then rotating judges to the appeals court as well,” Sanders said in early April 2019. “Letting them get out of the Supreme Court and bringing in new blood.”
- Sanders biggest concern with the Supreme Court is appointing a justice who would support overturning Citizens United.
- Sanders has expressed reservations about eliminating the legislative filibuster, which other 2020 Democrats have said they’re open to discussion. “I’m not crazy about getting rid of the filibuster,” Sanders said in February.
- Sanders in early April shifted somewhat on the issue of the filibuster. “In the Senate we must enact real filibuster reform, including the return to requiring a talking filibuster,” he said. “It is not right that one Senate can grind the entire process to a halt.”
- Sanders has called for banning assault weapons and supports universal background checks.
- Sanders has faced attacks from some Democrats in the past for not always supporting more restrictive gun control measures. He’s from a state with a large rural population and a fairly high percentage of gun owners.
On criminal justice reform:
- Sanders has been outspoken on mass incarceration for many years, but did vote for a 1994 crime bill that many critics feel made the problem worse.
- Sanders has repeatedly said the US should invest more in jobs and education than incarcerating people.
- He’s called for an end to the war on drugs, and is in favour of legalizing marijuana at the federal level.
- The senator wants to end private prisons and cash bail.
- Sanders has described America’s criminal justice system as “racist,” stating that “far too many of our black brothers and sisters end up dead at the hands of law enforcement.”
- Sanders believes people with felony records should be allowed to vote and supports extending voting rights to people who are currently incarcerated.
- Sanders opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump withdrew the US from in 2017.
- Sanders has pushed for trade policy that “is fair to American workers, not just large multi-national corporations.”
- He routinely speaks out against the exploitation of low-wage workers in foreign countries, and the impact this has on the job market in the US.
- Sanders is against Trump’s tariffs against Canada and the European Union, but has expressed support for imposing “stiff penalties on countries like China, Russia, South Korea and Vietnam to prevent them from illegally dumping steel and aluminium into the US and throughout the world.”
- Sanders has said Trump is right about the problem with trade with countries like China but has called for a more “comprehensive approach.”
- “We need to fundamentally rethink our trade policies and move to fair trade rather than just unfettered free trade,” Sanders said in March 2018.
- Sanders in May introduced a plan to break up agriculture monopolies.
On foreign policy:
- Sanders voted against the 2003 Iraq War, which he often points to as a defining moment in his career. He’s generally against US intervention, and only supports war as a last resort.
- Sanders is strongly in favour of a foreign policy that involves working with the international community to solve global crises. He also wants to drastically cut US defence spending.
- He opposed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
- Sanders led the charge in the Senate for the US to end support the Saudi Arabia in the Yemen conflict.
- Sanders has been critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, but still supports the historic US-Israel partnership.
- Sanders has faced criticism for praising dictatorial socialist regimes in Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
- More recently, he has caught flak for not being more forceful in condemning Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro.
- Sanders opposes “endless” wars and wants to see conflicts like the Afghanistan War come to a conclusion.
- Sanders wants to drastically decrease defence spending. He was one of 10 senators who voted against a $US716 billion defence budget for 2019.
- “I think we have to get our priorities right, and our priorities should include not spending more than the 10 next nations on earth. As president, I would certainly look at a very different military budget,” Sanders told Vox in May.
- “As a young person, long before I ever held any position, I was active in opposition to the war in Vietnam,” Sanders told The New York Times in May. “As a mayor, I did my best to stop American foreign policy, which for years was overthrowing governments in Latin America and installing puppet regimes.”
- Sanders is strongly in favour of taxing the wealthy to address inequality, calling on millionaires and billionaires to “pay their fair share.”
- He’s proposed a plan that would implement a 77 per cent rate on billionaires’ estates. Sanders would tax the estates of those who inherit more than $US3.5 million,
- Sanders has railed against major companies like Amazon, Netflix, and GM paying “nothing” in federal income taxes.
- Sanders has also pledged to target offshore tax havens.
What are Bernie Sanders’ political successes?
- Sanders’ key policy positions, once considered radical, were made mainstream via the popularity of his 2016 campaign.
- In 2016, the Democratic Party adopted the most progressive platform in its history. Today, many Democratic candidates are running on ideas popularised by Sanders.
- Sanders has helped energize young voters, gaining more of the youth vote in 2016 than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined.
- Sanders is the longest serving independent in the history of the US Congress, and the first Jewish politician to win a presidential nominating contest.
How much money has Bernie Sanders raised?
- Just 10 hours after he announced, Sanders had already raised more than $US4 million from nearly 150,000 individual donors.
- He raised $US6 million in the 24 hours after joining the 2020 presidential race.
- Less than a week after announcing, Sanders is estimated to have collected $US10 million from nearly 360,000 donors.
- Sanders’ campaign said it raised $US18.2 million from roughly 900,000 contributions and 525,000 individual donors in first 41 days of the senator’s campaign.
- On April 12, Sanders’ campaign said it had reached one million donations overall.
Could Bernie Sanders beat President Trump?
Referring back to INSIDER’s recurring poll, Bernie Sanders overall is believed to be a strong candidate in a general election against Donald Trump compared to your typical Democrat. For a typical candidate, the majority of respondents are undecided about how they think they’d perform, but not Sanders: just shy of half of people who say they will vote in the Democratic primary think he’d beat Trump, and about a quarter think he’d lose. That winning percentage is more than ten points points higher than typical, which is rather good among the 2020 contenders.
Read more of our best stories on Bernie Sanders:
- Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign slogan is a direct rebuke of Trump’s 2016 message of ‘I alone can fix’ America
- First-time voters for Bernie Sanders don’t care about his age, say he speaks to what matters to them and would have voted for him in 2016
- Bernie Sanders draws in huge, young, diverse crowd for first 2020 rally on a snowy day in Brooklyn
- Here’s the difference between a ‘socialist’ and a ‘Democratic socialist’
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.