Let me count the ways. Refute them if you can.
Barack Obama would not have even thought of challenging Hillary Clinton were it not for two extremely fortunate circumstances: A. George W. Bush was an unpopular incumbent leading an unpopular war. B. His two potential opponents for the nomination supported Bush in getting us into that war. He was against it from the start, positioning him perfectly. The timing could never have been as good as it was in 2007 when he jumped in. The war was going terribly. Bush was terrible. He just cornered the market for 'change.'
Bernie Sanders enjoys no such circumstances now. Unless of course he plans to campaign hard against the incumbent president of his newly adopted party... which (lol) would clearly indicate he's lost his mind and isn't serious about winning.
2. National political success.
After the successful cycle of 2006 for Democrats, Obama could benefit from a national network of political operatives and party apparatchiks who would certainly give him a serious listen. These things are important, like it or not. Governors, Mayors, country chairmen, and of course Congress critters will only give an ear to a heavyweight contender. Obama had proven himself prime time worthy from his 2004 keynote speech, had a huge warchest to draw on from the Chicago Democratic fundraising circuit, his wife was close to the Daley Administration (thus comforting the Establishment), and he was the most in demand surrogate from the 2006 cycle, drawing big crowds around the country for Democrats. In an election they won. That's some serious shine for an on the move up and comer. Even if they couldn't commit to him, although some did early, they had seen enough to stay on the fence. This man might be president. Better to wait it out and see what happens.
Bernie Sanders enjoys no such advantages. Going to be very difficult to get those Mayors Governors and the like to peel away from Clinton without the profile young, fresh blood Obama had in 2007.
3. The issues.
Despite running an unconventional campaign, on the issues Barack Obama was a run of the mill centrist Democrat. There was little difference between him and Clinton on the issus of the day, except of course for the Iraq War. Postioning himself there was not only a smart political decision (to reduce the sense of a risky bet) but as we have now seen it is basically where he is policy wise (to my and I'm sure your consternation). To the extent he gained support from the left wing was primarily a benefit of his opposition to the war and being a viable alternative to Clinton. He got that support basically gratis, offering nothing in return for it in the form of a more leftist policy agenda.
If there is anything Bernie Sanders is NOT, its a centrist Democrat. Hell he's not even a Democrat! He's an honest and committed socialist. He's even to the left of most progressive-leaning Democrats. Which is probably why he isn't one. He's got integrity. But as Nate Cohn pointed out, he's far to the left of the rank and file Democratic voter, especially working class women and people of color. Yes, affluent white liberals will love him and support him, but they arent even close to a majority of Democrats. A key element of our coalition for sure, but not enough for a majority.
4. Demographics & Style
By the time the 2008 primary was drawing to a close, Hillary Clinton was explicitly tailoring her message to white people. I don't think for one minute this had anything to do with racism, but rather political reality. She had been leading by big margins with black and Hispanic voters who were the core of her base. Then Barack Obama won Iowa. The campaign took on a double historic dimension, of either the first woman or the first minority president. I remember in my household this made for a tough decision for the missus. But when you combined all the other advantages he had, plus the fact that he was able to go out and win in a lily white state like Iowa, the situation was pretty clear. Clintons core left her and now she had no choice but to get those working class white women especially to turn out for her, and they did. But it was too late and not enough. And there was the youth, with whom Barack Obama was able to develop a cultural affinity and a message that went beyond the campus class presidents or debate team and scored with the basketball team (he's a long time jock), sorority princesses (he's handsome) , and aspiring yuppies (Columbia, Harvard, snappy suits). And there's that photogenic winning smile and young beautiful family. Trust me, this stuff matters to low info voters. Barack Obama used all these tools to his advantage in the primary, but especially did in the general election.
Bernie Sanders. Well. He's an old disheveled white guy. And I love him for that, beleive me. As a Brooklynite I couldn't be prouder seeing him out there. But I do know our Brooklyn style wears thin on folks outside the five boroughs. And as far as old white guys, we had have plenty of those as president. So there's that. But more importantly, I dont know if you all have seen Bernie give a speech but he tells it like it is and it is depressing. Because it is. But a presidential candidate just can't say it.
I, for one, feel its about time Democrats had a woman leading the party and running the country. Hillary Clinton is an exceptional woman, to say the least.
5. Hillary is much stronger now than in 2008.
Finally, even after you combine all these advantages a young Senator Obama had going into that campaign, HE STILL BARELY WON the nomination. There was less than a point worth of votes separating him and Clinton. All that, just to eek out a razor thin victory. So he had a lot to overcome, even when there was just 15 points between him and Clinton when he announced for president. Hillary is a lot stronger now. As I've said before, she has numbers approaching that of an incumbent president seeking renomination. You gotta be Bobby Kennedy to beat these kinds of numbers. She did two things: she reconciled the party beautifully in 2008 and was a forceful advocate for Obama, and she served in the highest capacity in his administration. That core that left her after Iowa of 2008? Its back. And the way she has been running, she intends to keep it this time.
Bernie Sanders, God bless him, has none of these advantages and a 55 point deficit. Boy, it will literally take a miricle or something terribly unfortunate because I'm not seeing any path for him to the White House. Especially not the Barack Obama path.
I don't expect to, nor want to dissuade anyone from supporting and voting for Bernie. He's a good man and plus he's from Brooklyn. Give him all you got if you're with him. But, there is no need to wage war on Hillary Clinton to try and damage her because she will be the nominee, like it or not. Or to use his candidacy for that because you hate her. Just be FOR BERNIE and not against Hillary. He's got plenty to offer with the platforn he will be given. Encourage him to make the best use of it. Because he will not be our nominee nor will he be president. That's reality. For a reality based community.