The title is not a mistake, as ridiculous as it may appear to some. Bernie Sanders will be the next President of the United States, barring one or two unexpected scenarios which could slash this possibility.
A potential path to victory for Sanders would depend heavily on the implosion of Hillary Clinton's campaign as well as the weakness of the potential Republican nominee for president.
While there is no doubt Hillary Clinton aims to pursue a more centrist economic policy than Sanders has proposed, many voters in the general electorate do not find her trustworthy, The Nation reports. She maintains a slight lead in favorability ratings among Democrats, but Sanders has been slowly catching up to her as the campaign has progressed.
The real problem with Hillary Clinton being the Democratic candidate is the ongoing email scandal which many observers believed would be over after Clinton's hearing in the House in November of 2015. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has said there's a 'reasonable suspicion' that open records laws were undermined by Clinton and that he may subpoena her to return all records related to her private email server, Reuters reports.
So, it appears Hillary Clinton is continuing to lose control over the optics of the email scandal. If she were the only Democrat left in the race, the party would be essentially be headless going into the general election. Fortunately, there is another candidate who received nearly as many votes as Clinton in 2 out of the 3 early states, while beating her in the 3rd.
Looking at the Republican side, it is clear Republicans believe they will have an easier time against Sanders in the general election than they will against Clinton, given the distinct lack of attacks against him so far. Everyone should expect these attacks to be laid on with the full force and backing of the Republican Party should Sanders become the Democratic nominee.
But if that happens, they might find they're in a tougher battle than they ever anticipated, and that Bernie Sanders is not just some 2016 reincarnation of Walter Mondale or George McGovern. In most recent polling match-ups on Real Clear Politics -- which are admittedly unreliable at this point -- Sanders beats every Republican candidate handily except for Marco Rubio. Voters like Sanders even if they don't like his policies, and they see him as honest. It also doesn't hurt that the Sanders campaign has been leveraging the full power of social media to a far greater degree than any of his opponents.
One may argue, "Well, once the Republicans start running attacks against Sanders, his poll numbers will drop," and be absolutely correct. There is no doubt that the Republicans will lay into Sanders' past hard, especially with things like his honeymoon in the Soviet Union during the 1980s and the Soviet flag he had in his office as mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
But what if these attacks do not stick nearly as well as the Republicans believe or hope they will? The party has run far to the right over the course of the primary season and has alienated many moderate voters along the way. Those moderates may not be inclined in any way to vote for a self-proclaimed socialist, but they would recognize that he would be able to get a lot less done with a Republican Congress than a President Trump or President Cruz, ideas they similarly oppose.
So what are the scenarios in which Sanders loses? One would be if Rubio actually becomes the nominee. Rubio would bring back a lot of disaffected moderates even as he loses the support of some current Trump and Cruz supporters.
The other scenario is if Bernie became the Democratic nominee against Trump or Cruz and billionaire Mike Bloomberg got into the race. Bloomberg has already indicated he would want to jump in during such a match-up, as he dislikes the nativism of Trump and Cruz as well as the populist economic proposals of Sanders. Bloomberg would have no shot at winning the election -- a Wall Street Journal poll has his support at around 16% while Trump and Sanders remain in the range of 30%+ -- but he would derail Sanders' candidacy and most likely ensure a Trump or Cruz presidency.
As the general election comes closer into view, conventional politics will continue to be turned on its head. And if the general election ends up being Trump vs. Sanders or Cruz vs. Sanders, expect President Sanders to be entering the Oval Office in January 2017.