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“Sanders Surprises With Controversial Superdelegate Strategy”: Going To Do The Best We Can In Any And Every Way To Win

Strictly speaking, Democratic primary and caucus voters are principally responsible for choosing their presidential nominee, but the power is not entirely in their hands. While those voters elect pledged delegates for the party’s national convention, the Democratic process also includes superdelegates – party officials who are able to cast their own votes, separate from primary and caucus results.

The system is not without critics. Though it’s never happened, the existing Democratic process leaves open the possibility that actual, rank-and-file voters – the folks who participate in state-by-state elections – will rally behind one presidential candidate, only to have party officials override their decision, handing the nomination to someone else. For many, such a scenario seems un-democratic (and un-Democratic).

It therefore came as something of a surprise this week when Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign first raised the prospect of doing exactly that. Sanders aides told reporters that he may not be able to catch Hillary Clinton through the primary/caucus delegate process, but the campaign might come close, at which point Team Bernie might ask superdelegates to give Sanders the nomination anyway, even if he’s trailing Clinton after voters have had their say.

On the show last night, Rachel asked the senator himself about the possibility. Initially, Sanders responded by talking about his optimism regarding upcoming contests and some national polling, but he didn’t answer the question directly.

So, Rachel asked again whether he might try to convince superdelegates to side with him, even if he’s behind in pledged delegates. Sanders said he and his campaign are “going to do the best we can in any and every way to win,” but he still avoided comment on the specific approach he’s prepared to take.

So, Rachel asked again. For those who missed it, this was the exchange that stood out.

MADDOW: I’m just going to push you and ask you one more time. I’ll actually ask you from the other direction. If one of you – presumably, there won’t be a tie – one of you presumably will be behind in pledged delegates heading into that convention. Should the person who is behind in pledged delegates concede to the person who is ahead in pledged delegates in Philadelphia?

SANDERS: Well, I – you know, I don’t want to speculate about the future and I think there are other factors involved. I think it is probably the case that the candidate who has the most pledged delegates is going to be the candidate, but there are other factors.

It was arguably one of the more controversial things Sanders has said this year.

When the race for the Democratic nomination first got underway, many saw this same scenario, but in reverse: it seemed possible that Sanders would do well in primaries and caucuses, and Clinton would turn to powerful superdelegates to elevate her anyway.

That possibility, not surprisingly, enraged many of Sanders’ backers. The Hill published this report in early February:

MoveOn.org Political Action and a group of backers of White House hopeful Bernie Sanders have launched petitions calling for superdelegates to support the candidate chosen by Democratic voters, not party insiders.

Ilya Sheyman, the group’s executive director, in a statement Thursday said voters “will not allow Democratic Party insiders to determine the outcome of this election.” … “The race for the Democratic Party nomination should be decided by who gets the most votes, and not who has the most support from party insiders,” Sheyman said.

Except, now Democrats face the prospect of seeing the entire scenario flipped on its head: Sanders and his team may ask those party insiders to help him, even if the results from primaries and caucuses favor Clinton.

For what it’s worth, such a strategy seems unlikely to succeed. As things currently stand, Clinton’s lead over Sanders among superdelegates is roughly 467 to 26. It’s difficult to imagine the circumstances in which most of Clinton’s official backers switch allegiance to Sanders, especially if Clinton leads the overall race once the primaries and caucuses are over.

But the fact that Sanders and his team are thinking along these lines is itself striking – and the sort of strategy his progressive backers may find difficult to explain after months of making the exact opposite argument.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 18, 2016

March 21, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton, Super Delegates | , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Reagan Democrats Are Gone”: Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Need White Men

The New York Times today has an article of a kind we’ve seen before and will likely see many times again before this election is over, warning that Hillary Clinton has a serious problem with white men, a problem that could threaten her ability to win a general election:

White men narrowly backed Hillary Clinton in her 2008 race for president, but they are resisting her candidacy this time around in major battleground states, rattling some Democrats about her general-election strategy.

While Mrs. Clinton swept the five major primaries on Tuesday, she lost white men in all of them, and by double-digit margins in Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, exit polls showed — a sharp turnabout from 2008, when she won double-digit victories among white male voters in all three states…

The fading of white men as a Democratic bloc is hardly new: The last nominee to carry them was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and many blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” now steadily vote Republican. But Democrats have won about 35 to 40 percent of white men in nearly every presidential election since 1988. And some Democratic leaders say the party needs white male voters to win the presidency, raise large sums of money and, like it or not, maintain credibility as a broad-based national coalition.

I’m not sure who the “Democratic leaders” are who think that, because the only one the article quotes is Bill Richardson, who’s been out of politics for a few years and frankly was never considered a strategic genius to begin with. But here’s the truth: Hillary Clinton doesn’t need white men.

Let’s be more specific. Clinton will have the support of tens of millions of white men. But she doesn’t need to do any better among them than any Democrat has, and even if she does worse, she’ll probably be completely fine.

That’s because whites are declining as a proportion of the electorate as the country grows more diverse with each passing year. In 1992, just 24 years ago, whites made up 87 percent of the voters, according to exit polls. By 2012 the figure had declined to 72 percent. Since women vote at slightly higher rates than men, white men made up around 35 percent of the voters.

Those numbers will be lower this year, which means that even if nothing changes in how non-whites vote, Republicans will need to keep increasing their margins among whites to even stay where they are overall — in other words, to keep losing by the same amount.

By way of illustration, in 1988, George H.W. Bush won 60 percent of white voters on his way to beating Michael Dukakis by seven points. In 2012, Mitt Romney did just as well among whites, winning 59 percent of their votes. But he lost to Barack Obama by four points. The electorate is now even less white than it was four years ago, which means that Donald Trump (or whoever the GOP nominee is) will have to do not just better among whites than Romney did in order to win, but much better.

Exactly how much better is difficult to say because we don’t know exactly what turnout will look like among different groups (David Bernstein recently estimated that Trump would have to get at least 70 percent of the white male vote, compared to Mitt Romney’s 62 percent). But as turnout increases among groups other than white men, the need to run up the score among white men gets higher and higher. And for certain groups — particularly Latinos and women of all races — Donald Trump provides an extraordinary incentive to get out and vote. Not only that, as I argued yesterday, women are likely to vote in even stronger numbers for Clinton.

It’s true that Clinton has done worse among white male voters in this year’s primaries than she did in 2008. But we should be extremely wary of taking voting results in primaries and extrapolating them out to the general election. For starters, the overwhelming majority of people who vote in primaries will vote for their party’s nominee in November, whether they supported him/her in the primary or not. Furthermore, the general electorate is a completely different group of people than the primary electorate, and they’ll be presented with a different choice.

The Times article talks to some white men who don’t like Clinton, and it’s always worthwhile to hear those individual voices in order to understand why certain people vote the way they do. But when you pull back to the electorate as a whole, you realize that there just aren’t enough votes among white men for Republicans to mine. The reason is simple: they’ve already got nearly all they’re going to get. While some people entertain the fantasy that there are huge numbers of “Reagan Democrats” just waiting to cross over, the Reagan Democrats are gone. They all either died (it was 36 years ago that they were identified, remember) or just became Republicans. The GOP already has them, and it isn’t enough.

Finally, the idea that the Democrats can’t “maintain credibility as a broad-based national coalition” unless they get more votes from white men is somewhere between absurd and insane. We have two main parties in this country. One of them reflects America’s diversity, getting its votes from a combination of whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and people of other ethnicities. Its nominee got 55 percent of his votes in 2012 from whites — smaller than their proportion of the population as a whole, but still a majority of those who voted for him.

The other party is almost entirely white; its nominee got 90 percent of his votes from whites in 2012. And we’re supposed to believe that if that party gets even more white, then it will be the one that’s “broad-based”?

Obviously, every candidate would like to get strong support from every demographic group. But if there’s one group Hillary Clinton can afford not to worry too much about, it’s white men. Most of them are going to vote against her anyway, and even if they do, she still would have a decent chance of winning the election.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, March 18, 2016

March 21, 2016 Posted by | General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton, Reagan Democrats, White Men | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“His Campaign Is In Line With Their Beliefs”: Former KKK Grand Dragon Explains Why Racists Like Trump

Donald Trump will never own up to just why racists and white supremacists are flocking to his presidential campaign, or why his rallies are increasingly marred by ugly outbursts of racially fueled violence.

One outspoken anti-racist has an explanation: Trump speaks to the issues that America’s white supremacists care about.

Scott Shepherd, a former Grand Dragon in the Ku Klux Klan—who once called ex-KKK leader David Duke a good friend—sees strong similarities between Duke’s campaigns for public office and Trump’s GOP Presidential bid.

“Their campaigns are pretty much parallel when I look at it,” Shepherd told The Daily Beast in Austin, Texas, where he appeared in the new documentary Accidental Courtesy, about R&B musician Daryl Davis’s crusade to convert Klansmen by befriending them.

“Trump won’t take a direct stand in Israel, and these are the things white supremacists are looking at,” said the soft-spoken Shepherd. “They’re latching onto him because his campaign is pretty much in line with their beliefs.”

Shepherd grew up in Indianola, Mississippi, the birthplace of the White Citizens Council; he was 17 when he pledged himself to the Ku Klux Klan. By the age of 19, he’d reached Grand Dragon status, leading the KKK’s operations across the state of Tennessee.

“I was a very shy, unhappy child with low self-esteem,” he’d explain years later to the IB Times. “I was looking to fill a void.”

There was a time when the college-educated Shepherd was chosen to act as one of the KKK’s public faces. Nowadays he incurs the Klan’s wrath as one of its most visible detractors. He left the group in 1992 after a court-mandated rehab stint stemming from a DUI and gun possession arrest led him to a life-changing epiphany, and devoted himself to making amends for the hate and trauma he’d long perpetuated.

Shepherd shares his story in Accidental Courtesy, which also depicts his friendship with African-American activist Davis, who refers to Shepherd as his “brother.” Decades ago he ran for public office in Tennessee, twice campaigning on a white supremacist platform, and served as the spokesperson and recruiter for onetime KKK leader David Duke’s National Association for the Advancement of White People. His business cards now read: “Scott Shepherd, Reformed Racist.”

The Duke-Trump connection resurfaced again last week when the former KKK Grand Wizard drew favorable comparisons between Trump’s messaging and that of Adolf Hitler.

“The truth is, by the way, they might be rehabilitating that fellow with the mustache back there in Germany, because I saw a commercial against Donald Trump, a really vicious commercial, comparing what Donald Trump said about preserving America and making America great again to Hitler in Germany preserving Germany and making Germany great again and free again and not beholden to these Communists on one side, politically who were trying to destroy their land and their freedom, and the Jewish capitalists on the other, who were ripping off the nation through the banking system,” Duke, who endorsed Trump for president, said on his radio show last week.

Shepherd offered an explanation for why the kind of people attracted to the KKK are also drawn to candidates like Trump. Duke, after all, successfully won one term as a Republican Louisiana House Representative before going on to wage several other campaigns for state governor, U.S. Senate, and the White House.

“They all feel like they’ve not been given a fair handshake, and that their rights have been taken and priority has been given to people of color,” said Shepherd. “But what attracted me to [KKK Imperial Wizard] Bill Wilkinson was a self-emptiness within myself… I was introduced to the Klan and I felt part of something, in a way.”

 

By: Jen Yamato, The Daily Beast, March 19, 2016

March 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Ku Klux Klan, Racists, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Donald Is Trumping The #NeverTrumps”: Can Ted Cruz Or John Kasich Stop The Trump Train?

Terrible tag-team, murder-suicide or surrender? Those are the options available for the ill-named, ill-executed and probably ill-fated #NeverTrump movement.

The Ides of March were unkind to retiring Sen. Marco Rubio, whose hope-not-fear, praise the lord farewell speech could just as easily have been a brief Et tu, Florida? Then fall Marco! Rubio had played Brutus to Jeb Bush, his former governor and mentor, and then it was retired reality TV star Donald Trump, who doth bestride the party like a colossus, who administered the coup de grace against Rubio in the Sunshine State.

That reduced the GOP field to three finalists, only one of whom – Trump – has a clear and realistic path to an acceptance speech on the final night of the GOP convention in Cleveland. In addition to Florida, he picked up wins in Illinois and North Carolina and was in a tight battle for Missouri.

The one place he fell clearly short was in Ohio, where the popular, two-term governor – John Kasich – held serve and survived the kind of existential test that took Rubio down. But, as I argued last week would be the case, dopey Don won for losing: Kasich’s victory “guarantees at least two not-Trumps remain in the field … with Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz splitting the non-Trump portion of the pie.”

Do you want more happy news, Trump-ists? Savor this: Per The Washington Post’s Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy, the two states that have gotten seen the biggest anti-Trump independent expenditure efforts thus far (or at least through March 13, when the latest Federal Election Commission records were available to them) were Florida, where at least $15.7 million was spent, and Illinois, where another $5.3 million was poured in. Guess in which two states Trump ran up the biggest margins Tuesday night? That’s right – the Sunshine State and the Land of Lincoln, both places where Trump scored double-digit wins.

So where does that leave team #NeverTrump? With a series of unappealing options. In spite of Kasich’s win, this is arguably a two-man race now between Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is the only other candidate anywhere near the real estate tycoon in terms of delegates. But Cruz faces a number of problems, starting with his own alienating personality and approach to politics. The non-Trump GOP may yet coalesce around him, but it’ll do so holding its collective nose. Anyone who hadn’t made a virtue of accumulating enemies in Washington would already have the not-Trump field to himself by now.

And the time it took to winnow the field can be marked off in the Southern states and more heavily religious electorates that have cast their ballots already. Here’s where the campaign trail leads for Republicans: the Arizona primary and Utah caucus next week; Wisconsin two weeks later and New York two weeks after that; and then a week later most of the remaining Northeastern states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Where does Cruz notch his next victory? Trump’s going to be strong in Arizona, with former Gov. Jan Brewer and immigration nut Sheriff Joe Arpaio in his corner. Maybe the freshman Texas senator can score a victory in Utah but the map looks bleak after that. Can he go oh-for-April and survive until Indiana on May 3?

As FiveThirtyEight’s Carl Bialik observed Tuesday night, polls show that Trump is stronger vis a vis Cruz in states that haven’t voted yet:

Trump led Cruz by 17 points in places with votes on or before March 15, according to data provided by the online-polling company SurveyMonkey, based on its interviews of 8,624 Republican registered voters from Feb. 29 to March 6. But Trump’s lead expanded to 24 points in places that vote later.

In a hypothetical head-to-head against Cruz, Trump led by 1 point in places that had voted by today, but by 8 points everywhere else. As our delegate tracker indicates, Cruz needed a lead over Trump by now to be on track for a majority of delegates, because the voting gets tougher for him from here.

And that brings us back to Kasich. Appearing on CNN after winning the Buckeye State, the governor was spouting some fairly high octane spin: “I may go to the convention before this is over with more delegates than anybody else,” he said. “There’s 1,000 yet to pick.” Here’s the thing: Even if Kasich – who has less delegates than the dear-departed Rubio – wins those 1,000 or so delegates, he won’t get to the 1,237 needed for the nomination. And the guy whose first win in 31 tries just came in his home state isn’t poised to win the next 1,000 delegates anyway.

At this point Kasich’s sole hope – and arguably sole purpose – is to deny Trump delegates where Cruz is ill-equipped to do so. It’s the carve-up-the-map strategy offered last month by 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove laid it out on Fox Tuesday night: “Look at the contests coming up: We have bunch of Western states where Ted Cruz is probably likely to do well,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot of Northeastern states where he hasn’t been doing well where he hasn’t been doing well where John Kasich has done well. So you’ve got Cruz who could cover you know Utah and Arizona and Montana [on June 7] and you could have Kasich who could challenge Trump in places like Connecticut and Delaware. … It gets us to an even more contested convention. In chaos is opportunity for the little guy.”

This is what we’ve come to: Rove is trying to chart a path into chaos for his party in the hopes of benefiting the GOP establishment, or the “little guy” as he puts it. This is, by the way, the third of the five stages of Trump: the first two are the convictions that he could be stopped before or during the primaries and the third is the hope of a convention battle.

So the #NeverTrump-ists and their allies – specifically the Cruz and Kasich campaigns – have to decide quickly whether the last not-Trumps can either tag-team the front-runner before he recedes entirely from their view or at least stay out of each other’s way; the alternative is to continue competing with each other in the grim game of winnowing while more contests slide inexorably past them into Trump’s column.

Because sooner is becoming later and before they know it, the #NeverTrump will be faced with its own existential test: Whether to morph into #NeverTrumpUntilHeFacesHillary.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, Managing Editor for Opinion, U.S. News & World Report, March 17, 2016

March 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP Needs To Change”: Paul Ryan Just Revealed That The GOP Has Learned Nothing From Its Trump Debacle

Paul Ryan is, at least arguably, the leader of the Republican Party. He was the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee in 2012. He’s now speaker of the House of Representatives. And he remains the party’s unofficial wonk-in-chief.

So what lessons has the savvy, brainy Ryan drawn from the stunning ascent of Donald Trump, as the billionaire (probably) businessman closes in on the Republican presidential nomination?

Maybe none. Certainly none that suggest Ryan thinks the party needs a big change of direction.

In a CNBC interview on Thursday, reporter John Harwood repeatedly probed Ryan on what the rise of Trump means for the future of the GOP. Not only is Trump against many of the GOP’s traditional policy pillars — including free trade, immigration, and entitlement reform — but he is also attracting working-class voters who are equally skeptical of center-right economics as practiced in Washington.

To his great credit, Ryan insisted that he will continue to push for Social Security and Medicare fixes to prevent a future debt crisis. And he still supports the Pacific trade deal, noting that “America should be at the table, writing the rules of the global economy instead of China.”

All good stuff, as far as it goes. But at no point did Ryan acknowledge that the rise of Trumpism possibly signals a Republican agenda inadequate in meeting the anxieties and real struggles of middle- and working-class America. This exchange between Harwood and Ryan about the tax burden is illustrative:

Harwood: “On taxes, when your predecessor as Ways and Means chair, Dave Camp, came out with a comprehensive tax reform a few years ago, he adopted as a principle that it was going to be distributionally neutral. It wasn’t going to give an advantage to any group over the current system. Is that still a principle that you think is appropriate for the Republican tax agenda?”

Ryan: “So I do not like the idea of buying into these distributional tables. What you’re talking about is what we call static distribution. It’s a ridiculous notion. What it presumes is life in the economy is some fixed pie, and it’s not going to change. And it’s really up to government to redistribute the slices more equitably. That is not how the world works. That’s not how life works. You can shrink or expand the economy, and what we want to maximize is economic growth and upward mobility so that everybody can get a bigger slice of the pie.”

Harwood: “And you’re not worried that those blue-collar Republican voters, who are voting in the primaries right now, are going to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. You’re really taking care of people at the top more than you’re taking care of me.'”

Ryan: “I think most people don’t think, ‘John’s success comes at my expense.’ Or, ‘My success comes at your expense.’ People don’t think like that. People want to know the deck is fair. Bernie Sanders talks about that stuff. That’s not who we are.”

In other words, Republicans should keep deeply cutting taxes for the richest Americans — as part of across-the-board tax cuts — and not give any special preference to targeted or direct middle-class tax relief.

Not only does Ryan’s position clash with the Trumpist truths of 2016 — his position makes little sense from a policy standpoint. Analyses of the tax plans of the various GOP presidential candidates show their deep individual income tax cuts — such as slashing the top rate from 40 percent to 28 percent — would cost the most revenue while producing the least amount of economic growth. That 2014 big-bang tax reform plan by Camp would have likely increased the size of the economy by less than one percent over the next decade. And if you ask Silicon Valley about pro-growth policy, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are far more likely to mention burdensome regulation than income tax cuts.

Ryan’s professed politics are also dodgy. Most middle-class Americans seem to think they’re already paying their fair share in taxes. And a YouGov finding poll last year found 45 percent of Americans disagreed with the idea that lower taxes on the wealthy creates shared prosperity vs. 29 percent who agreed. Also, fair or not, voters see the GOP as the party of the rich. A recent Pew survey found 62 percent say the GOP favors the wealthy, compared to 26 percent who say it favors the middle class. And recall that in 2012, 81 percent of voters who wanted a president who empathized with them voted for Barack Obama.

The same middle class that does not trust the GOP on trade and immigration is also unlikely to trust them to reform Medicare and Social Security or the tax code. So maybe the GOP ought to listen to the recommendation of National Review editor Reihan Salam and take a break from tax cuts for households making over $250,000 a year. Even better: Use your political capital to formulate a middle-class agenda that acknowledges the challenges as well as the opportunities from globalization and technological change. This might mean expanded tax credits or payroll tax cuts for working-class families. Maybe even broad wage insurance for people who lose their jobs, whether to offshoring or the robots. Social Security reform that improved benefits for those at the bottom. And wouldn’t the GOP be better off if voters thought it was the party obsessed with making higher education a better value for students as opposed to cutting taxes at the top?

The GOP needs to change. If conservative reformers in Washington won’t do it, then populist outsiders like Donald Trump just might.

 

By: James Pethokoukis, The Week, March 18, 2016

March 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Paul Ryan | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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