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Readers React: Bernie Sanders’ Michigan upset was an important victory -- for Republicans

Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign event in Dearborn, Mich., on March 7.

Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign event in Dearborn, Mich., on March 7.

(Tannen Maury / EPA)

To the editor: Your article on the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders contest in Michigan explains the Vermont senator’s razor-thin win in Michigan (49.9% to 48.3%) in part by citing certain exit poll results of “Democratic voters.” (“Sanders wins Michigan in an upset; Clinton takes Mississippi,” March 8)

But it ignored the elephant in the room revealed by those polls: Former Secretary of State Clinton in fact defeated Sanders among all registered Democrats by a whopping 58% to 40%.

As Michigan was one of the few open Democratic primaries, fully 27% of so-called Democratic voters were independents, and 4% actually were Republicans. It was independents who voted 71% to 28% for Sanders and accounted for his win.

Between the Benghazi hearings and millions of dollars spent by Republican groups on withering TV ads against Clinton, the GOP clearly prefers to face a weaker, extremist candidate never vetted by its attack machine.

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The real story of the Michigan primary results may be that most non-Democratic voters there, whether wittingly or not, were doing the very bidding of the GOP.

Mark E. Kalmansohn, Santa Monica

..

To the editor: I think Sanders is making a big mistake by not re-branding.

Sanders has labeled himself a socialist or a democratic socialist. I understand what he means, but I’d bet that most of middle America will not vote for him because they think he’s actually a communist.

Sanders would stand a better chance of winning if he were to brand himself as what he really means: a New Deal Democrat.

Everyone knows President Franklin D. Roosevelt and how his New Deal saved America by improving the lives of the working class with progressive programs like Social Security. Being a “new” New Deal Democrat doesn’t come across as threatening in the way identifying as a socialist does. It would be familiar and reassuring by promising to continue FDR’s legacy.

If it takes a retooling and a clarification of Sanders’ brand to win the presidency, I hope he makes the change now, before it’s too late.

James Hornbeck, Valley Glen

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