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“It’s All Over, And It’s All Just Beginning”: Hillary Clinton’s Next Challenge: Bury Trump And Stay Out Of The Gutter

So the last Sanders argument, like umpteen others, has come around to bite him.

He’s spent the last two weeks talking about the “momentum” he was going to have after winning California, but as the primaries draw to a close, the momentum is on Hillary Clinton’s side.

She exceeded expectations in California, with her victory called early Wednesday (what was up with those polls that had Bernie Sanders beating her among Latinos? They always smelled fishy to me). She demolished him in New Jersey, won New Mexico, and even pulled off a stunning (if small-potatoes) win in South Dakota, which came out of nowhere.

Speaking of nowhere, there’s nowhere for Bernie to go now. He ran an impressive race in many ways, and annoying in others, but he lasted a lot longer than almost anyone thought he would. But today the story isn’t him. It’s the nominee.

It’s a huge historical marker, as Clinton noted in her speech. “Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone, the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” Clinton said. “Tonight’s victory is not about one person—it belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

It’s also a huge personal moment for Clinton. For all the arrows, justified and not, she’s absorbed for the last quarter-century, she’s made it. She’s made history in a huge way. If you read biographies of her, you’ve read about the people who thought back when she was at Wellesley that maybe she had it in her to be America’s first woman president. It’s an expectation that has hovered over her for many years, and she’s now in a position to achieve it.

The Democratic Party has now nominated in succession the country’s first African American and its first woman. This is a great sign of progress, but more tellingly it’s a sign of what the two major parties have become over the course of the past 20 years. The Democrats are the party of multicultural America, while the Republicans have become in essence a white ethno-nationalist party. Yes, it has some nonwhites, but it’s a party whose raison d’etre is increasingly to save white America from the new hordes, a point made clearly by its collective decision to reject two Latino nominees and instead elevate the first openly racist major-party candidate since maybe Woodrow Wilson.

So now it’s (almost) officially Clinton vs. Trump, the question is, what will it look like? Big-time ugly. Trump, in his speech, said he’s giving a speech next Monday about the Clintons and corruption, signaling what his campaign is basically going to be about. And Clinton already showed us last week in that San Diego speech on Trump and foreign policy, and reminded us again in splashes Tuesday night, that her main argument is going to be that temperamentally and otherwise, Trump just doesn’t belong in the Oval Office. Every election, people like me say, “This is going to be the nastiest presidential election ever,” and, every time, it turns out to be true—each one has been a little nastier than the last. But this one is going to be hyper-space nasty.

The key challenge for Clinton is going to be one of tone and balance—she’ll need to find a way to trade punches with Trump without letting him get in her head and without reducing herself to his drooling level. This is what the other Republicans could never get right. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz let Trump get inside their heads, toy with them the way Ali used to toy with the bums of the month he was fighting in 1963. Marco Rubio made the mistake of lowering himself to Trump’s level, trading insults. As I tweeted at the time, the two of them came off like Don Rickles and Joan Rivers. Rubio was good at it, but it wasn’t what people wanted out of him, and it certainly isn’t what voters want out of Clinton.

She found the sweet spot in that San Diego speech. She shredded his dignity but managed to maintain, and even augment, her own. Trump is going to be continually trying to take her down into the gutter from which he operates. She needs to stay out of it while staying on the attack. That won’t be an easy thing to do.

And in the near-term, she has an intra-party issue to attend to: How will she woo the Sanders voters? It’s mostly on Bernie, especially the way the air went out of the balloon Tuesday, to do the right thing. Maybe the fact that he requested a meeting with President Obama is a sign that he’s ready to. But it’s incumbent upon Clinton to handle this right, too, not for Sanders’s personal sake, but for the sake of his voters. She needs those voters in November, and they probably represent the future direction of the Democratic Party.

Clinton’s had a great couple of weeks—the terrific San Diego speech, the better-than-expected performance Tuesday night, and most importantly Trump’s self-immolation around Judge Curiel, which led to members of his own party calling him a racist. There’s no way she could have hoped for a better start to the general-election campaign. But she’s still barely ahead, and every week isn’t going to be like these last two.

Back when this was just getting started, I thought that yes, Clinton is going to win, which places a special burden on her to run a better race than she did in 2008 and not blow this. Given who she’s running against, that’s a lot truer now than it was when I first thought it.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 8, 2016

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Just Aren’t Large Enough Of A Group”: The Bad News For Trump About Under-Engaged White Voters

A big part of the hope and fear partisans have about Donald Trump’s general election prospects is that his atavistic message of resentment toward elites and uppity women and minorities will not only win a big majority of white voters, but will boost white turnout as well. Sean Trende’s famous “missing white voters” hypothesis for one of Mitt Romney’s fatal defects suggests that marginal white voters tend to be the kind of people who voted for Ross Perot in 1992 — a peak year in white turnout. Trende has subsequently confirmed that the same kind of white voters have been turning out for Trump in the GOP primaries. But are there enough of them to make a difference, particularly given Trump’s big problems with minority voters?

At FiveThirtyEight, David Wasserman takes a close look at this question and arrives at an ambivalent conclusion:

The good news for Trump is that nationally, there’s plenty of room for white turnout to improve. If non-Hispanic whites had turned out at the same rate in 2012 that they did in 1992, there would have been 8.8 million additional white voters — far more than Obama’s 5 million-vote margin of victory. But before Democrats panic, here’s the catch, and it’s a doozy for Trump: These “missing” white voters disproportionately live in states that won’t matter in a close presidential race.

Between 1992 and 2012, white turnout dropped from 71 percent to 63 percent in the 38 non-Electoral College battleground states. There were huge double-digit declines in relatively Perot-friendly places such as Alaska, upstate New York and Utah. But in the 12 key battleground states, white turnout dropped more modestly, from 69 percent to 66 percent. There was virtually no white drop-off in Pennsylvania, and white turnout increased in New Hampshire and Virginia.

This makes sense if you think about it for a minute. If the “missing white voters” are basically marginal voters, they’re less likely to bother to vote in states where their votes “don’t count” in the sense of affecting the outcome. Meanwhile, the same voters are more likely to show up at the polls in highly competitive states where their votes do count, and where, moreover, they are the object of all the dark arts of base mobilization.

The bigger problem for Trump, as Wasserman notes, is that it’s by no means clear Trump’s going to win all the votes cast for Mitt Romney, much less add on many millions of marginal white voters in the right places.  He’s got a real problem with college-educated white women, and in some polls isn’t doing all that well with college-educated white men. And that’s aside from the strong possibility that he’s going to do even worse than Romney with minority voters, who in any case are likely to continue to become a larger percentage of the electorate this November.

It all goes to reinforce the most important single insight I can offer to those all caught up in slicing and dicing the electorate: a vote is a vote, and running up the score in one demographic doesn’t mean squat if it’s offset by losses in another, especially in battleground states. And it’s another sign that Trump’s angry non-college-educated white men just aren’t large enough of a group to win the election for him, particularly if turning them out requires the kind of over-the-top borderline-racist-and-sexist histrionics that tend to mobilize the opposition as well.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, White Male Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Confessions Of A Former Dead-Ender”: Boy, Were We Wrong About Obama

Bernie Sanders is clearly winding down his campaign for the Democratic nomination. In speeches and interviews over the weekend, he started turning his lance away from Hillary Clinton and toward Donald Trump.

Though most of his supporters say they will make the transition to Clinton, a sizable minority — 28 percent, according to a recent poll — insist they will not. Some vow to cast ballots for Trump. The dedicated liberals among them (as opposed to those just along for a populist ride) are being called “dead-enders.”

I feel some of their pain, for I was once considered a dead-ender. The year was 2008. Barack Obama had clinched the Democratic nomination after a grueling contest.

Some Obama bros had subjected Clinton and her female supporters to vile sexist attacks. And it wasn’t just the knuckle draggers. The late Christopher Hitchens called her an “aging and resentful female.”

The caucus and primary results, meanwhile, were a lot closer then than those between Clinton and Sanders.

It all seemed so unfair. Hillary the workhorse had labored at putting together a coherent health reform plan. The glamorous Obama floated by. Political expedience prompted him to oppose an individual mandate — unpopular because it forced everyone to obtain coverage but absolutely essential for universal health care.

I was sore. At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, I spent much time interviewing women still fuming over Clinton’s treatment and unable to support Obama. “Dead-enders,” these Clinton die-hards were called.

A poll in April 2008 had 35 percent of Clinton voters saying they would vote for Republican John McCain if Obama were to be the Democratic nominee. I, too, briefly toyed with the idea. After all, McCain at that time had retained a reputation for moderation. (He would have made a more plausible president than Trump ever will.)

McCain’s choice of the abominable Sarah Palin as his running mate quickly cured the so-called dead-enders of that notion.

And boy, were we wrong about Obama. Obama pulled America from the brink of another Great Depression. He championed the Dodd-Frank finance reforms and oversaw the passage of the Affordable Care Act (individual mandate included). He did it with virtually no Republican support and not a whiff of personal scandal. Obama will go down as one of the greatest presidents of our lifetime.

Has Sanders been treated unfairly as the Bernie camp asserts? There may be a valid grievance here and there, such as the scheduling of the debates in a way that benefited Clinton.

But no, the system wasn’t rigged against Sanders. It was in place before his candidacy. And Sanders gained extraordinary access to the infrastructure of a party he never joined.

As the apparent (if unannounced) truce between Clinton and Sanders sinks in, some of his dead-enders will cool down. Sanders surely knows that his movement will have far more influence docked in the Democratic Party than sailing off into third-party oblivion.

One last but important point: Participating in a party primary or caucus in no way obligates one to vote for that party’s eventual nominee. Anyone who genuinely wants a vulgar and unstable authoritarian to lead the nation has every right to vote for Trump.

But those who don’t want Trump — but rather wish to punish Clinton for prevailing over their hero — have things to think about. The country, for starters.

In politics, there’s no building your ideal car. We end up choosing the preferable of two models. Doing something else with one’s vote also affects the outcome.

Frustration can hurt, but it helps to not over-identify with a candidate. To the dead-enders of 2016, peace.

 

By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, May 31, 2016

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“The Power Of Sisterhood”: Trump, Clinton Could Post Record Numbers With Opposite Corners Of White America

The stereotypical Donald Trump voter is a non-college-educated white man. Hillary Clinton’s base of support is much more diverse, but in terms of general election swing voters, her stereotypical voter is probably a professional white woman. Stereotypes are always over-generalizations and are sometimes misleading. But depending on how the general election develops, the impressive strength of the major-party candidates among downscale white men and upscale white women could prove to be the key match-up.

Veteran journalist Ron Brownstein looked at the internals of some recent general election polls and found that adding gender to education levels among white voters produced a shocking gap between the two candidates.

In early polling, the class inversion between Clinton and Trump is scaling unprecedented heights. In the national CBS/NYT poll, Trump led Clinton by 27 percentage points among non-college-educated white men, while she led him by 17 points among college-educated white women, according to figures provided by CBS. The ABC/Washington Post survey recorded an even greater contrast: it gave Trump a staggering 62-point advantage among non-college-educated white men and Clinton a 24-point lead among college-educated white women. State surveys reinforce the pattern. In the Pennsylvania Quinnipiac survey, Trump led among non-college-educated white men by 43 points, but trailed by 23 among college-educated white women. In Quinnipiac’s latest Ohio survey, Clinton’s vote among college-educated white women was 20 points higher than her showing among blue-collar white men.

Brownstein argues that each candidate is reaching or in some cases exceeding the all-time records for their party in these demographics — which means the gap could be larger than ever, too. What makes the trade-off potentially acceptable to Democrats is that college-educated white women are a growing part of the electorate while non-college-educated white men have been steadily declining for decades. What gives Republicans some hope is the theory that blue-collar white men, who are usually somewhat marginal voters, will turn out at record levels for Trump. Sean Trende, the primary author of the “missing white voters” hypothesis explaining a big part of Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss, thinks Trump is a good fit for these voters despite his weaknesses elsewhere in the electorate.

To be very clear: even though these two opposite corners of the white vote are significant, in the end a vote is a vote and there are many dynamics that could matter more. Most notably, if Hillary Clinton can reassemble the “Obama coalition” of young and minority voters with the same percentages and turnout numbers as the president did in 2012 or (even more) 2008, she has a big margin for error among all categories of older white voters. And within the universe of white voters, racial polarization could give Trump a higher share of college-educated voters than currently appears likely, while Democrats have high hopes of doing very well among non-college-educated white women by hammering away at the mogul on both economic and gender issues.

In the end, Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections and have a coalition that is growing while that of the GOP is shrinking. They also have a nominee who, for all her problems, raises far fewer worries among both swing and base voters than does the Republican.  Trump’s carefree attitude about who he offends could be more problematic in a general than in a primary election, and his disdain for the technological tools necessary to carefully target voters could prove to be a strategic handicap.

If the election does come down to a contest between women and men of any race or level of educational achievement, a Clinton victory would be not only historic, but a demonstration of the power of sisterhood against an opponent who’s a cartoon-character representation of The Man.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 30, 2016

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Toxic Social And Cultural Stew”: Get Ready For A Long, Very Ugly Election Won On The Ground

Yesterday I wrote that the politically obsessed should not pay attention to general election polls right now, because the GOP primary is over while the Democratic one continues. That in turn has given presumptive nominee Trump a consolidating boost, while Sanders supporters still resist supporting Clinton. That phenomenon will dissipate within the month, and Clinton will get her own boost once the last votes are cast.

Still, the latest poll showing Trump leading Clinton by 2 points is instructive not for its toplines, but for the very high negative public perceptions of both candidates. While the topline numbers should change over the next few months in Clinton’s favor, the candidates’ negatives are unlikely to. Compounding this reality is that the public has lower-than-ever perceptions of the news media, which means we’re ripe for a toxic social and cultural stew as we approach the election.

What does this mean going forward? Mostly that the election will be driven in part by core supporters who do like their respective candidates on both sides, but mostly by fear of the other side. Conservative voters who don’t like Trump will have to make a choice whether to trudge to the polls to vote against Clinton, and liberal voters who don’t like Clinton will have to do likewise against Trump. Undecided voters who don’t like either choice will have to decide whether to vote at all.

Pure partisans won’t have any trouble showing up, because that’s what we do. But general elections aren’t won by pure partisans who vote in every election. Nor are they usually won by persuading the very small slice of people who can’t seem to make up their minds between two very different candidates all the way into October.

General elections are won by turning out the people who already agree with you ideologically, but only show up to vote every other election when they really feel inspired to but otherwise feel that politics is a waste of time that doesn’t change anything dramatically affecting their daily lives.

In that sense, the way both sides will try to win is not to convince the disaffected that their candidate will affect dramatic positive changes (though Trump may have some disaffected voters with whom he can make that argument; Clinton’s chance of persuading her own version of the same is somewhat less due to her intentionally incrementalist message), but to scare them into believing that the other candidate will make dramatic negative changes.

In other words, Trump will try to convince apathetic conservatives that Clinton will turn America into a gun-free Venezuelan socialist despotism, while Clinton will try to convince apathetic liberals that Trump will turn America into an unstable, trigger-happy fascist dictatorship. Clinton will use Trump’s lascivious past against him, even as Trump brings up decades of unsavory personal Clinton associations. It’s going to a very nasty affair. The one big advantage Democrats will have is a probable surge in the Latino vote out of genuine self-preservation.

In the meantime, the election will actually be won not in the air, but on the ground. The ugliness on the air will depress turnout even further, which will require campaign organizers to depend on millions of face-to-face conversations with voters on the fence about whether to vote at all.

All of which is to say this: as we approach the general election, those who want to help their candidate win in November should probably spend a lot less time arguing with other people in online forums or obsessing over television ads, and a lot more time making calls and knocking on doors. That’s where this very ugly game is going to be won and lost.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 23, 2016

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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