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“Closed Primaries Did Not Stop Bernie Sanders”: Peddling Misleading Explanations To Supporters As To Why He Fell Short

Bernie Sanders is so convinced that his campaign was fatefully hamstrung by “closed” primaries in which independent voters could not participate that he is including the end of closed primaries in his list of convention demands.

There’s no reason to deem this demand self-serving; at 74 years of age, Sanders will not be running for president again and he apparently wants to create a process in which candidates who follow in his footsteps will have a better shot.

Although he has every right to pursue that goal, he’s wasting his time, and squandering his leverage, by focusing on closed primaries. Yes, he was swept in the closed states. But he also lost the open primaries by a 2-to-1 margin.

There have been 40 state contests so far, 27 primaries and 13 caucuses. Nineteen of those primaries  were accessible to independent voters. Yet Sanders only won six of them, and two were his home state of Vermont and neighboring New Hampshire.

Hillary Clinton has only won six more states than Sanders, and she won all eight closed primary states. Would throwing all those contests open have made a big difference?

Probably not, because most of Clinton’s closed primary wins were not close. Connecticut was the narrowest at five points, but that contest was also the most “open” of the closed states since independents could switch their registration the day before election. Twenty percent of the Constitution State’s electorate was composed of self-described independents, not far behind the 27 percent share in the Sanders states of Michigan, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Four others, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana and Maryland, were completely out of reach for Sanders, as Clinton posted margins between 20 and 48 points. Only three closed states might have become competitive if independents could have participated: Arizona, Pennsylvania and New York, where Clinton’s spread was between 12 and 16 points.

The reality is that, in general, primaries were unfriendly terrain for Sanders. His wheelhouse was the caucus, pocketing 11 out of 13. The low-turnout meeting-style contests are known to favor liberal candidates, having buoyed George McGovern and Barack Obama to their nominations. Sanders recently said, “We want open primaries in 50 states in this country.” If he means that literally, and would end caucuses altogether, that would certainly increase voter turnout in those states. But it also would risk ceding what’s now populist turf to establishment forces.

These facts are important for Sanders’ his fans to know. Not to rob them of their comforting rationalizations and make them wallow in their misery, but so they can best strategize for the future.

They want the Democratic Party to change. They want a party that shuns big donors. They want a party that routinely goes big on progressive policy goals.

But if they believe that the nomination process is the obstacle preventing the will of the people from enacting that change, then they are letting gut feelings overwhelm hard facts.

The only explanation for the sudden obsession with closed primaries is that we’ve just had five of them in the last two weeks. The truth is the race was lost long before, when Clinton build an essentially insurmountable lead by sweeping the largely open primaries of the South and lower Midwest. Sanders’ recent defeats stung badly because his die-hard supporters wrongly believed his caucus streak meant he was gaining momentum. They should not let that sting cloud their vision.

One wouldn’t expect the average voter to pore over the intricacies of delegate math. Sanders has, and he should know better. Granted, the intense emotion a candidate suffers at the end of a losing presidential campaign is an excruciating feeling most of us can never fully grasp. Undoubtedly, it’s painful for the candidate to take a step back and make clinical assessments instead of excuses.

If he wants his revolution to keep moving forward, he can’t lead it in the wrong direction. He can’t get caught up in the raw emotion of electoral defeat. He can’t peddle misleading explanations to his supporters as to why he fell short.

Because if he does, he is going to waste their time, energy and precious political capital fighting a convention floor fight for nomination rules reform that is a complete distraction from what they really want: a party rooted in populist principles and funded by small donors.


By: Bill Scher, a Senior Writer at Campaign for America’s Future, Executive Editor of LiberalOasis; Contributor, RealClearPolitics; May 2, 2016

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Halting The “Disease Of Republican Compromise”: Intra-GOP Wars Block Path To Debt Ceiling Accord

What if they yield, even a little?

Call it GOP Primary Fear. A major hurdle to breaking the federal debt-ceiling impasse is the worry by House Republicans that they will invite primary election challenges from the right if they give ground to Democrats on the issue of higher tax revenues.

There’s even a verb for it: being “primaried.”

The challenger would not be a Democrat. It would be a fellow Republican, in a spring or summer primary that most voters would ignore. That could leave the field mainly to ideological die-hards, often with tea party ties and little appetite for compromise.

It’s the atmosphere that many House freshmen rode to victory last year, and that cost two GOP senators their party’s nomination.

“They talk about it all the time,” said Mike McKenna, a Republican lobbyist who closely follows the House and politics. If the House cuts a deficit-reduction deal with President Barack Obama, he said, “you’re probably going to see a lot of leadership guys get primaried,” along with rank-and-file Republicans. “It could be an all-time high.”

Such worries are a key reason the GOP-controlled House has refused so far to accept Obama’s debt-and-deficit overture, even though it includes budget concessions that many people never expected from a Democrat. Friday evening, after House Speaker John Boehner abruptly broke off the talks, an exasperated Obama declared: “One of the questions the Republican Party is going to have to ask itself is, `Can they say yes to anything?'”

Boehner blamed Obama for insisting on higher revenues. The package they were closing in on would have cut spending by $3 trillion over 10 years, and slowly started to trim Social Security and Medicare benefits. But to get it through the Democratic-controlled Senate, the deal also needed to include some increase in revenues from taxes aimed mainly at the wealthy, and generating up to $1 trillion over a decade.

That’s the needle Boehner can’t figure out how to thread. He’s been unable to persuade enough fellow Republicans to give just enough on higher revenues, or “tax hikes” — there will be a fierce fight, too, over definitions — to keep Senate Democrats from filibustering the bill to death.

Boehner must also reassure colleagues that they could survive primary challenges.

Obama confronted the issue Friday, at a forum in Maryland. Many House districts, he said, are drawn to be “so solidly Republican or so solidly Democrat that a lot of Republicans in the House of Representatives, they’re not worried about losing to a Democrat. They’re worried about somebody on the right running against them because they compromised. So even if their instinct is to compromise, their instinct of self-preservation is stronger … that leads them to dig in.”

Nearly all congressional Republicans have pledged not to raise taxes, although lawmakers quibble about what that means. Many tea partyers say it bars any action that would lead directly to a net increase in tax revenues. The Senate is almost certain to reject that definition.

Tea party activist Lee Bellinger recently urged colleagues to put lawmakers on notice “before the disease of Republican compromise infects Washington once again.” As early as mid-April, Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler told The Hill newspaper he was “getting emails by the hour from people talking about primary challenges” to Republicans who seek budget deals with Democrats.

Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker said Republican primaries are dominated by “the most ideological voters.” They “track votes and are unforgiving,” he said.

GOP pollster and consultant Wes Anderson said, “If we pass some deal that includes some form of tax increases_ even if we try really hard to couch it in `tax reform, closing loopholes,’ etc. — there are going to be a number of our folks, especially freshmen, who will face primaries. It’s just going to happen.”

Anderson said Boehner’s top staffer is counting votes every day, asking “what kind of deal can we get without losing too many?”

For Boehner, the math doesn’t require reaching the minimum 218 votes needed to pass a bill in the House (or 217, given two seats currently vacant).

If Obama eventually endorses a compromise, it probably will draw scores of House Democrats’ votes. That would allow Boehner to lose 100 or so of his 240 Republicans, and still pass the measure.

But if Boehner wants to remain speaker, he can hardly afford a bigger defection than that. He needs to find the political sweet spot, a compromise that can win the votes of 140 or so House Republicans and most of the Senate’s Democrats.

McKenna estimates that about 40 pro-Boehner House Republicans are politically safe enough to vote for a compromise with no worries. Beyond that, he said, “80, 90, 100 are probably going to vote `yes’ on whatever comes out. And they will be exposed.”

By: Charles Babington (With Contribution by Jim Kuhnhenn), The Associated Press, Yahoo News, July 22, 2011

July 23, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Medicare, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Public Opinion, Republicans, Right Wing, Senate, Social Security, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP DeathWish?: Republicans Pushing To Revamp Medicare Could Find Themselves Voted Out Of Office In The Next Election

One of the biggest and most frequent mistakes in politics is for a party to misread its mandate. When it happens, independent and swing voters get angry and punish a candidate or a party on Election Day. Because American politics is a zero-sum game, punishing one party means rewarding the other party—even when the latter is not necessarily deserving of support. Frequently, the party that benefits from the spanking mistakenly interprets it to mean that the public is embracing every aspect of its agenda. Republicans shouldn’t forget that their party had dismal favorable/unfavorable poll ratings last fall. They won because they weren’t Democrats.

There is no question that the Republican base, conservatives, and supporters of the tea party want to take a meat ax to government spending. When Republican congressional members return home and meet with their constituents, they are encouraged to vote against continuing resolutions and for deep spending cuts. These supporters have intensity, and they adamantly oppose any compromise with Democrats.

It would be a blunder, however, to think that such views drove the election. Republicans, conservatives, and tea partiers did not throw Republicans out of their House and Senate majorities in 2006, and they did not vote to increase the size of the Democratic majorities and elect Barack Obama president in 2008.

Independent voters were the ones who cast their ballots for Democrats by an 18-point margin in 2006 because they were mad at President Bush and upset about the war in Iraq, not to mention Republican scandals and the general performance of the GOP Congress. Two years later, these same voters were still angry at the president, were afraid of the financial crisis, and didn’t care for GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

In 2010, these independent voters were unimpressed by the economic-stimulus package, didn’t like cap-and-trade environmental regulation, and really didn’t like the Democratic health care package. Those over or approaching 65 years of age also feared that health care reform would erode Medicare benefits. Even those unaffected by the reforms rallied to defend Medicare.

Polling is very clear. Most voters want to see the federal budget balanced and spending cut. However, they don’t want Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid touched, and, oh yes, they don’t want taxes increased. Now, anyone with an IQ over room temperature knows that all of this is impossible. Spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, along with interest on the national debt, amounts to approximately half the federal budget.

There is no doubt that significant budget cutting is necessary and that Medicare and Medicaid must be reformed. No one can doubt the courage or sincerity of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. But it’s little short of suicidal to drop a Medicare reform package—even a voucher plan that would be optional for those currently older than 55—into tough budget negotiations stymied over Republican demands for deep spending cuts. Democrats have some experience with older voters going ballistic, even with changes that wouldn’t affect them.

For many seniors, doing anything to Medicare that can’t be portrayed as an increase is essentially a cut, and they will fight it to their last breath. From a political standpoint, Medicare reform is very dangerous territory. House Republicans are not just pushing the envelope—they are soaking it with lighter fluid and waving a match at it.

One can understand why Republicans are pushing so hard. Their base is demanding that they do so. And if congressional Republicans resist, many of them can look forward to primary opposition next year. But it seems that GOP members of Congress have become so consumed with pleasing their base that they are ignoring general-election voters and the independents who drive the wild gyrations in American politics.

Congressional Republicans would be well advised to pay attention to the results of the latest Pew Research Center poll (conducted March 30 to April 3 among 1,057 adults) that asked Americans whether they would prefer that their lawmakers stand by their principles even if it meant that the government would shut down, or whether they would rather have their lawmakers compromise on a budget even if they didn’t agree with it. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who agree with the tea party movement, 68 percent said they would rather have a lawmaker who stands by his or her principles. But among all Republicans, only 50 percent said stand by their principles, while 43 percent said compromise. Among all adults, 55 percent said compromise; among independents, 53 percent said compromise, with 36 percent siding with the principles option.

The bottom line: GOP primary voters are very different from general-election voters. It would be a very shortsighted strategy for Republican members—especially those in swing districts—to focus too much on primary voters. A lot of Democrats did the same thing in 2009 and 2010. Many are now former members of Congress.

By: Charlie Cook, National Journal, April 7, 2011

April 7, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Democrats, Elections, Federal Budget, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Independents, Lawmakers, Medicaid, Medicare, Politics, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Swing Voters, Teaparty, Voters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

McCain: I Was a ‘Maverick,’ Now I’m a ‘Partisan’

John McCain "the partisan"-even hard for him to swallow!

Arizona Sen. John McCain, trying to fend off a primary challenger trying to outflank him on the right, also found himself trying Sunday to put straight whether he was a “maverick” or not.

McCain’s “maverick” reputation and his past willingness to work with Democrats on issues like the environment, campaign finance reform and immigration before his run for President in 2008 often frustrated or angered fellow Republicans and he has lately made it appear like it’s a moniker he’d like people to forget.

McCain startled many political observers when he told Newsweek magazine “I never considered myself a maverick” — even as Sarah Palin was describing him that way in a campaign appearance late last month in Arizona for her old running mate.

When he appeared on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace pressed McCain on the point, playing a 2008 campaign ad that called him “the original maverick” and showing McCain saying, ” If you want real reform and if you want change, send a team of mavericks. And what maverick really means, what this team of maverick really means, is we understand who we work for.”

// McCain responded, “Look, when I was fighting against my own president, whether we needed more troops in Iraq, or … spending was completely out of control, then I was a maverick. Now that I’m fighting against this spending administration and this out-of-control and reckless health care plan, then I’m a partisan.”

Hayworth labels himself the “consistent conservative” on his campaign web site and he has had fun poking McCain over the “maverick” quote. Hayworth told the Politico, “To the extent that he can encourage amnesia in the electorate, that’s what he’s aiming to do.”

A Rasmussen Reports poll conducted April 13 showed that Hayworth had pulled within 5 points of McCain, with McCain leading him 47 percent to 42 percent among likely Republican voters. The margin of error was 4 points. The primary is August 24.

By: Bruce Drake, Contributing Editor-Politics Daily, April 18, 2010

April 18, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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