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“Big Math v. ‘Big Mo'”: Despite Talk Of The Big Mo, It Really Is About The Big Math

Way back in 1980, when Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were running for president, Bush heralded his Iowa victory by declaring he had “the Big Mo” — momentum — that would carry him to the presidency.

Other states and the math intervened, and he became Reagan’s vice president instead.

Bernie Sanders is talking a lot about the Big Mo after his victories in five western states. If I were in his position, I would probably be doing the same thing. It helps him raise money and continue the battle for the next several months.

But Hillary’s sweep of five major states on March 15th wasn’t exactly chopped liver either, nor were her overwhelming wins in southern states. The difference is that Hillary has been racking up the delegates. The math is on her side.

Right now, according to RealClearPolitics, she has 1,712 delegates and Sanders has 1,004 (including superdelegates). For Hillary to reach the magic number of 2,382, she needs 670 more. Sanders will need 1,378 – over twice as many as Clinton.

There are over 1,700 delegates in upcoming states still to be chosen, plus over 200 superdelegates yet to declare whom they will support. Of those superdelegates who have declared, Clinton has 469, and Sanders has 29. That is a big math problem unless, somehow, delegates change their mind and support Sanders. Clearly, that is his hope.

But here is his problem: Even if he wins a number of states and scores some upsets, these are likely to be close races, and delegates will be split fairly evenly. From April 6 in Wisconsin until April 26 (with New York in between), there will be 710 delegates chosen. Other states include Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wyoming. Clinton is likely to win at least half of these delegates, if not more. None of the major states should be blowout races for Sanders, like the caucus states in the West. Or, for that matter, blowout states for Clinton, like the deep South.

So for the sake of argument, let’s give Hillary Clinton 350 delegates between now and April 26; that brings her total up to 2,062, without additional superdelegates who may come over to her side. She will be 320 votes from the magic number of 2,382. If she wins 400 delegates in the next month, she will be only 270 votes short.

The pressure on the other 214 superdelegates to go over to the Clinton side will mount. Funny how politicians like to be the ones to put a candidate over the top or close to over the top.

The next big day with six states, June 7, has 694 delegates, with California selecting 475 and New Jersey 126. Again, assuming Clinton and Sanders are going back and forth winning states, Clinton will need only a portion of those delegates to secure the nomination.

If Clinton wins out in most of these states, pressure will mount on Sanders to unify the party after April 26, though he could easily choose to keep on until June 7. He will probably have the money, and he has focused a lot of energy on California. That is, rightly, his choice.

Clinton’s path to the nomination may have a few more curves and bumps, but it looks pretty straightforward. The delegate math is the delegate math. Barring a catastrophe for Clinton and superdelegates leaving her en masse, it is doubtful the trajectory of this race will change.

Despite talk of the Big Mo, it really is about the Big Math.

 

By: Peter Fenn, Democratic Political Strategist and Head of Fenn Communications; U. S. News and World Report, March 28, 2016

March 30, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Calendar Is Unforgiving”: Following Bernie Sanders’ Latest Landslides, What’s Next?

A couple of weeks ago, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, laid out his short-term expectations for the Democratic presidential race, which now appears rather prescient. As Mook saw it, Bernie Sanders would win the next five caucus states with relative ease – Idaho, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, and the state of Washington – while coming within striking distance in Arizona.

After Clinton’s bigger-than-expected win in Arizona, one of Mook’s predictions looked a little off, but the rest of the assessment was quite sound. Last week, Sanders cruised to easy wins in Idaho and Utah, and over the weekend, the independent senator did it again.

Bernie Sanders swept all three Democratic caucuses on Saturday, with decisive victories over front-runner Hillary Clinton in Washington state, Alaska and Hawaii, according to NBC News analysis.

Speaking to a rapturous crowd in Madison, Wisconsin, after his victory in Alaska, Sanders declared his campaign was making “significant inroads” into Clinton’s big delegate lead.

Sanders was supposed to do well in Saturday’s caucuses, but let’s be clear: he did extremely well, winning by margins ranging from 40 to 70 points. As for “significant inroads,” the final numbers are still coming together, but it looks like Sanders will end up with a net gain of 60 to 70 pledged delegates.

By most measures, Saturday was Sanders’ single best day of the entire presidential race: three lopsided landslides, which, when combined, gave the Vermonter his biggest net delegate gain of 2016.

That’s the good news for Sanders and his supporters. The bad news is, well, just about everything else.

The delegate math is so brutal for the senator that narrowing the gap in earnest remains incredibly daunting. Clinton’s recent victory in the Florida primary, for example, netted her about 70 delegates. Sanders’ wins on Saturday night were worth roughly as much.

Or put another way, Clinton appeared likely to win the Democratic nomination on March 15, when she led by about 215 pledged delegates, and as things stand, her advantage is even larger now, even including Sanders’ weekend wins. (Adding Democratic superdelegates to the equation makes Clinton’s advantage even larger.)

The argument from the Sanders campaign is that these results don’t happen in a vacuum: big wins get noticed, and this leads to improved fundraising, positive press, increased enthusiasm, and a sense of momentum as the race enters the next round of contests.

And while that may yet happen, the calendar is unforgiving. Sanders is excelling – winning by enormous margins, making sizable net delegate gains – in caucus states with low turnout among African-American and Latino voters. There are a few more of these contests remaining – Wyoming and North Dakota stand out – but there aren’t many, and the number of delegates at stake is quite modest.

Saturday’s caucuses were practically custom made for Sanders, and he took full advantage, winning by enormous margins. But what he needs is a calendar full of caucus states like these, and they don’t exist in a quantity that would make a real difference. The alternative is racking up big wins in competitive primaries, which could happen, but which recent history suggests is unlikely.

I’m not saying his nomination is impossible – it’s been an election cycle full of unexpected developments – but even after the weekend, the Democratic race doesn’t look much different than it did a couple of weeks ago. Sanders was a long shot before his latest round of caucus wins, and he’s still a long shot now.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 28, 2016

March 28, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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