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“Bernie’s Math Problem”: Why Sanders Campaign Has Resorted To Arguments Of Swinging Superdelegates In His Favor

Bernie Sanders won the Indiana presidential primary and has so far garnered 43 delegates to Clinton’s 37. But that’s pretty much where the good news ends. As Nate Silver documented prior to knowing the final results:

But let’s suppose Sanders pulls it out and wins a narrow victory instead, claiming 42 of Indiana’s 83 pledged delegates. He’d still then need 611 of the remaining 933 pledged delegates to catch Clinton, or about two-thirds. Here’s a scenario for what that would look like: Sanders would need to win California by 31 percentage points, for instance, and New Jersey by double digits despite having lost every neighboring state.

Even if Sanders was able to pull off winning California by 31% and New Jersey by 13% (which would only happen if an unforeseen event upset the demographics that have dictated this race so far), he would still only manage to catch up with Clinton on pledged delegates. If you include superdelegates, Gabriel Debenedetti explains how the situation gets even more bleak for Sanders.

Here’s how it works: After winning Indiana, Sanders has 1,399 pledged delegates and superdelegates to his name, according to the Associated Press’ count. That means he needs 984 more to reach the threshold of 2,383 needed to win.

The remaining contests, however — Guam, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia — only have 933 pledged delegates to offer.

So even if Sanders were to win 100 percent of the pledged delegates in each of those states, he wouldn’t make it past the mark.

That explains why the Sanders campaign has resorted to arguments aimed at swinging the superdelegates in his favor.

To sum up Bernie’s math problem, he is now faced with needing to win the remaining states by improbable margins AND convince a significant number of superdelegates to change their minds. On the other hand, Clinton could lose all of the remaining states by the margin we saw in Indiana yesterday and still garner enough delegates to win the nomination. It is probably too soon to say that Hillary is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, but it’s even more clear today that we are headed for a Clinton/Trump contest in November.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 4, 2016

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Super Delegates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Momentum Meets The Wind”: Clinton’s Nevada Win Casts Democratic Race In New Light

The run up to the Democratic presidential caucuses in Nevada offered something oddly refreshing: a race in which no one really knew what was going to happen. Most pollsters stayed away, and those who tried found a race in which Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were effectively tied.

As of yesterday morning, no one could say with any confidence who was even favored. But when the dust settled, there was nevertheless a clear winner.

Hillary Clinton won Nevada’s Democratic caucuses on Saturday, NBC News projected, scoring a much-needed boost in the nomination race and depriving rival Bernie Sanders of a victory in a racially diverse state.

The loss is a blow for Sanders, who hoped to use the state’s contest to prove himself as a viable candidate in a state with an electorate made up of more minority voters and fewer self-described liberals than the race’s earlier contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

With just about all of the precincts reporting, it looks like Clinton’s margin of victory was about six points, 53% to 47%. In terms of delegate distribution, it was also fairly close, with Clinton picking up 19 delegates to Sanders’ 15.

But what makes yesterday’s developments so important has less to do with these precise totals and more to do with the impact on the Democratic race overall.

There are two broad angles to keep in mind. The first is the fact that if Clinton had come up short in Nevada, as many observers predicted, the coverage was going to be brutal. The Washington Post ran a piece last week with an ungenerous headline – “Hillary Clinton could blow it in Nevada” – which seemed emblematic of the general media buzz.

Nevada, the conventional wisdom said, was supposed to be a Clinton “firewall” state, which would help the former Secretary of State bounce back after Sanders’ landslide victory in New Hampshire last week. A Sanders victory would have created chatter about a crumbling “firewall” and a renewed sense of panic among Clinton’s supporters in the party.

Her six-point victory does the opposite.

The second angle is that Nevada was a real opportunity for Sanders to change the trajectory of the race. When the Vermont independent nearly tied Clinton in Iowa, and cruised to an easy win in New Hampshire, skeptics noted that the first two states were practically custom made for the senator: Sanders is strongest in states where the universe of Democratic voters is very white and very liberal. Based on previous performance, that means the three best states in the Union for the senator are, in order, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa.

Nevada, therefore, offered Sanders a chance to prove that he can win in a more diverse state – an argument that would give his candidacy renewed credibility as the race goes forward.

Clinton’s win yesterday means that opportunity has come and gone. Conditions may yet change, but she’s favored to do well in South Carolina’s primary next week, and there’s some polling that suggests she’s well positioned to win most of the March 1 primaries soon after.

Sanders said last night that, in the wake of a defeat, his campaign has “momentum” and “the wind is at our backs.” That pitch would have been far easier to believe had he not come up short in a state he fought to win.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 22, 2016

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Nevada Caucus | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s About The Nuts And Bolts”: Why African-American Voters May Doom Bernie Sanders’ Candidacy

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are now arguing about race, and like many such arguments in campaigns, it has nothing to do with any substantive difference between them on policy issues. But the stakes could hardly be higher — indeed, it’s no exaggeration to say that if Sanders can’t find a way to win over large numbers of African-American voters, he will have virtually no chance of winning the Democratic nomination for president.

Which is why, when Sanders released an ad showing him amidst his many adoring supporters, Clinton ally David Brock, who runs about a hundred different super PACs and other organizations devoted to getting her elected (I exaggerate, but only slightly) gave an interview in which he said: “From this ad, it seems black lives don’t matter much to Bernie Sanders.” Because of course, if the crowd shots in his ad aren’t diverse enough, that must mean Sanders doesn’t care whether black people live or die. (Full disclosure: some years ago I worked for David Brock for a time.)

Naturally, the Sanders campaign was outraged, but Brock’s attack cleverly alluded to the period last summer and fall when Black Lives Matter activists were interrupting Sanders at speeches and pushing him to endorse their agenda. Sanders was the perfect target for those actions, because he’s a liberal eager to show African-Americans that he’s on their side, but also someone likely to make the kind of verbal slips that would allow them to criticize him.

That’s because despite his commitment to civil rights, Sanders hasn’t spent his political career in an environment where African-Americans are what they are in most of the country: the very heart of the Democratic coalition. Since Vermont is 95 percent white, Sanders hasn’t had to build up the kind of partnerships and habits of mind and work that other Democrats do, which is just one of the reasons he has a steep hill to climb with African-Americans.

What I mean by habits of mind and work is this: Every politician and political organizer has things they learn to do by reflex in order to make sure the groups whose help they need are appropriately cared for. For instance, if you work on a Democratic campaign, you’d damn well better make sure that every flyer you print up has a union “bug” on it, the tiny mark showing it was printed at a union shop. And when you have a public event, you make sure that the people in view of the camera are appropriately diverse. I have a vivid memory of a photo-op on a campaign I worked on as a young man, when one of the campaign’s senior staff, an African-American, looked at one such array of supporters positioned behind the candidate and saw that the black people were mostly on one side and the whites were on the other. “Why don’t we salt-and-pepper this up a bit?”, he said, and everyone looked around, immediately understood what he meant, and shifted positions.

But it’s about a lot more than optics. One of Sanders’ many challenges is to turn a campaign built on idealism and vision into a machine that can turn out votes on the ground — state by state, town by town, and precinct by precinct. As Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman points out, Sanders does best with liberal whites, and “there is only one state where whites who self-identify as liberals make up a higher share of the Democratic primary electorate than Iowa and New Hampshire. You guessed it: Vermont.” So as soon as those two states are behind us, the campaign will move to places where African-Americans, among whom Hillary Clinton remains extremely popular, will make up a much larger share of the vote.

While Sanders would argue that he has a strong case to make to those voters about why they should support him, Clinton has ties to them that go back decades. And as a whole (and keep in mind that what I’m talking about doesn’t necessarily apply to any one individual even if it holds true for the group at large), African-Americans have a pragmatic view of politics. They had to fight — and some people even died — to secure the right to vote that whites always took for granted. They have to keep fighting to maintain that right in the face of a GOP that would put every impediment to the ballot it can find in front of them.

Ask anyone involved in Democratic politics about winning black votes in primaries, and they’ll tell you that it isn’t about hopes and dreams, though those are nice too. It’s about the nuts and bolts: the social networks, the key endorsers and officials, the neighborhood institutions, the systems that have been built up in the most trying circumstances to get people to the polls. Those kinds of factors matter among every voting bloc, but they’re particularly important among African-Americans. You can’t blow into town a week before election day with a bunch of eager white 20-something volunteers from somewhere else and win their votes.

It even took African-Americans a long time to commit to Barack Obama — against Clinton — during the 2008 primaries, despite the fact that he would become the first black president and today continues to command near-unanimous support from them. It wasn’t until he won the Iowa caucuses, making clear that he had a good shot at winning the nomination, that they began moving in large numbers away from their prior support of Clinton and toward him. And it’s no accident that one of the main lines of argument Clinton has been using lately is that Sanders has been insufficiently loyal to Obama. There are lots of Democratic voters among whom that might resonate, but none more than African-Americans.

So Sanders has multiple challenges among African-American voters: to show them that he’s really on their side, to show them that he really can win, and to do the complicated work in the field that will get them to the polls to pull the lever for him. He may be able to do all that, but it won’t be easy.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, January 22, 2016

January 23, 2016 Posted by | African Americans, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

“Hillary Still Best Candidate To Defeat GOP”: The Nation, America’s Oldest Weekly Magazine, Endorse Sanders For President

The Nation magazine, America’s oldest continuously published weekly magazine, endorsed Democratic candidate Bernie Sander’s (I-VT) for President. “He has summoned the people to a ‘political revolution,’” they wrote in an editorial published Thursday. “We believe such a revolution is not only possible but necessary—and that’s why we’re endorsing Bernie Sanders for president.”

The editorial outlines numerous reasons to support his bid for the White House. He has attracted a majority of young Americans, historically a politically disinclined demographic, to his political positions. His decades-long defense of progressive causes such as the $15 minimum wage, immigrants’ rights, bank regulation, and LGBT rights has attracted legions of young Americans who increasingly support such unapologetically liberal stances. Sanders’s endorsement is just the third time in 150 years that the publication has endorsed a candidate, the first two being Jesse Jackson in 1988 and Barack Obama in 2008.

The editorial made no effort to conceal the fact that Sanders’s path to the White House is a dubious and fraught one. “His economic-populist message has resonated with many progressives and young voters, but he has yet to marshal deep support among the African-American, Latino, and Asian-American voters who form core constituencies of the Democratic Party,” said the editorial. But his support has been growing steadily. He has maintained a six point lead over Hillary Clinton, once the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, in New Hampshire. And in Iowa, he has narrowed Clinton’s lead from 34 points to a mere four.

That is not to say that The Nation’s editors dislike Clinton. They readily admit they would prefer her to any of the “extremists running for the GOP nomination.” She has unrivaled experience, and is incredibly intelligent and perceptive, they write. During the campaign, she has been lured left to champion of many of the same causes that Sanders brought to the fore. “She has responded to the populist temper of the times: questioning the sort of free-trade deals that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have championed; calling for reforms on Wall Street and tax increases on the wealthy; courageously defending Planned Parenthood; challenging the National Rifle Association; and supporting trade unions,” the editorial said.

In a piece endorsing Clinton, Katha Pollitt, one of The Nation’s most prominent columnists, wrote about the seeming apathy of even wealthy, educated, white feminists to Clinton’s campaign. “You would think these women, of all people, would be jumping for joy at the prospect of someone so like themselves winning the White House.” But she still laid out a convincing argument for supporting Clinton.

It seems clear that the former secretary of state is still the best candidate to defeat the Republicans in the general election, given the numerous posts she’s held during her decades in government and the fact that Sanders is hampered by his self-applied label as a “democratic socialist.” She also would be the country’s first woman president, although it is not so unusual to have a female world leader today. Socially conservative countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines have previously had female heads of state. She would also be campaigning as a feminist at a time when the movement has gained newfound attention. According to a poll done by Vox, 78 percent of respondents said they believe in social, political, legal and economic equality between the sexes. A further 85 percent said they believe in equality for women.

But Clinton’s associations with big banks and Super PAC funding have left a sour taste in the mouths of Democrats looking for money to wield less influence in the country’s politics. The Nation editorial board wrote that “money in politics doesn’t widen debate; rather, it narrows the range of possibility. While Sanders understands this, we fear that his chief rival for the Democratic nomination does not.”

Sanders’s rising popularity and growing list of endorsements so close to the start of the primary season have surprised the political establishment. Clinton is now ramping up criticisms of Sanders’s platform in an effort to remain ahead in Iowa. But with The Nation’s endorsement, a rare event, Sanders and his supporters have already made their mark on the Democratic race.

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The National Memo, January 15, 2016

January 17, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, The Nation | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Mainstream Media’s Bernie Sanders Trap: Deranged Clinton Hate Turns Them Into America’s Socialist Vanguard

If only the great Michael Harrington had lived to see this. So many brave Americans fought in vain to spread socialism in the United States, but it’s advancing in the summer of 2015 thanks to an unlikely vanguard: lazy and apolitical political reporters who love horse races and hate the Clintons.

Yes, the MSM is making sure that socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders is taken seriously in his uphill run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s surging in Iowa and New Hampshire, polls tell us, and attracting 10,000 people at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Wednesday night.

This lifelong lefty who attended Madison is thrilled to see it – and yet a little cynical, too.

I mean really, folks: If Sanders had a chance to become president, Mark Halperin would be the first in line to red-bait him, rather than shaming Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Clinton supporter, into doing it on Morning Joe.

But the rise of Sanders, alongside that of the GOP’s surging star, blustering racist Donald Trump, also shows the media the difference between the ideological moorings of the folks who make up the Democratic and Republican base. The Democrats have a lot of lefties, FDR Democrats, folks who want single payer health insurance, people who think we can learn from Western Europe not stigmatize it — and yes, Sanders excites them. On the GOP side, there is a loud, large, angry segment of the GOP base that’s frankly xenophobic, nativist, even racist. Trump speaks to them.

Sanders and Trump thus offer different kinds of challenges to their party rivals. So far only George Pataki has tried to galvanize a Trump backlash, while Sen.Ted Cruz has defended him. Jeb Bush has said nothing, so far, which is a little weird, given that his wife is Mexican and his kids are of Mexican descent. But Trump is a stand-in for that portion of the GOP base — and these guys haven’t been terribly courageous in rebuking the nativist, racist element in their base. So they apparently think they have to be careful in the way they treat Trump, too. Of course, whoever gets the nomination may regret cozying up to Trump and his extremism, if they do so, when they get to a general election.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton can afford to welcome Sanders’ candidacy, and even endorse a lot of his platform. As Jim Newell points out here, she’s enormously popular even among Sanders supporters in Iowa. And Sanders isn’t the polarizing figure that Trump is. He’s good for the Democratic Party — and for socialism too. He explains it in simple terms. He points to the strong, social democratic economies of Western Europe, not the USSR. And his rising popularity shows that millennials and other voters too young to remember the Cold War aren’t going to be red-scared away from Sanders because of the socialist label.

Meanwhile, as Republicans compete to see who can abolish Obamacare most cruelly, Democrats will be debating whether the system should move to a single payer approach. This is all great.

Now, if Clinton endorses too much of what Sanders supports, you can bet that media figures hailing the Vermont senator’s campaign today will be red-baiting him, and Clinton, when the fall of 2016 comes around. That’s how they roll. So progressives should be a little wary of the media’s Bernie-mentum. The Clinton-hate that inspires admiring Sanders takes today will turn him into Clinton’s problem once she defeats him for the nomination, as she almost certainly will. Still, it’s fun to see the MSM so excited about socialism. Michael Harrington would be smiling.

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, July 2, 2015

July 6, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Mainstream Media | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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