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“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

“Clinton Escapes Nevada, Licks Chops For Next Round”: She’s In Great Shape With Friendlier States Ahead

The HUGE UPSET hype machine that’s on stand-by every time election returns come in was being cranked up noisily when the initial entrance polls from today’s Nevada Caucuses were released, showing a dead even race and Bernie Sanders leading Hillary Clinton among Latinos, an important voting demographic in the Silver State and part of Clinton’s nonwhite voter “firewall.”  And had the returns stood up to the initial impressions, you might have seen political reporters parachuting into South Carolina this very night to look eagerly for signs that young African-Americans and blue-collar rednecks were feeling the Bern and making the next stop on the nominating contest trail another dicey proposition for the former Secretary of State.

But alas for the dramatics, it looks like Hillary Clinton’s going to win the popular vote by roughly 6 percent and the national delegates awarded by more than that. And while Sanders probably did better among Nevada Latinos than Barack Obama did eight years ago, multiple analysts are suggesting the entrance poll numbers for this demographic showing Clinton losing big may be off, which has certainly happened in the past.

Turnout seems to have been robust, though not as high as in 2008, when the Culinary Workers endorsement of Obama (and Clinton counter-measures) boosted participation in Clark County (Las Vegas); this time that pivotal union was neutral. And putting aside Latinos, the demographic splits in the returns look very, very familiar (again, relying on entrance polls that seem to have underestimated Clinton’s vote): Sanders winning under-30 voters 82/18; Clinton winning over-65 voters 74/24. The non-college educated electorate that seemed to be trending towards Sanders in New Hampshire was dead even here. And however well Sanders ultimately did with Latinos, it’s clear the cavalcade of African-American rappers and writers in his corner isn’t making a lot of progress just yet, with HRC winning that demographic (an estimated 12 percent of the vote here) about three-to-one.

And that’s what may matter most in terms of the road just ahead, with South Carolina (where a solid majority of primary voters will likely be African-American) and 12 March 1 primaries coming up where (with the exception of Texas and Colorado) black voters have more weight than Latinos.  If the New Hampshire blow-out shifted the pressure from Sanders to Clinton to show her campaign (not to mention her “firewall”) wasn’t melting down, now the pressure shifts back to Sanders to show he can win in states without big white liberal voting populations.

The best news for Sanders may be, as Nate Silver pointed out today, that later Caucuses are mostly in heavily white states (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Washington and Wyoming–only Hawaii is very diverse) where he could, like Obama in 2008, win some serious delegate totals.  And if he can duplicate today’s Latino performance–pretty good even if it falls short of a majority–it will eventually help him in states down the road, including Illinois and Florida on March 15.  It should be noted that Nevada’s Latino voting population is reportedly youth-heavy, in part because many of their parents aren’t citizens or just aren’t registered or live somewhere else.  That may be a dynamic to watch down the road, particularly in states with older Latino voting populations.

All in all, Robby Mook and company can exhale a bit and look forward to some relatively good news the next couple of weeks.  The idea that Bernie would burn out after New Hampshire went out the window in the gusher of contributions he harvested after Iowa and then New Hampshire.  But it might be awhile before eager journalists write too many more headlines about “panic” in Hillaryland.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 20, 2016

February 22, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Nevada Caucus | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Strategic Lessons Have Been Learned”: Whatever Happens To Hillary Clinton’s Campaign, It Won’t Be ‘2008 All Over Again’

It’s understandable that Hillary Clinton supporters are feeling nervous now that Bernie Sanders appears to have overcome an autumn swoon in the polls and is showing strength in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

But that doesn’t completely justify Paul Kane’s Washington Post piece on Friday describing Team Clinton’s jitters as “a sense of deja vu from 2008, when Clinton’s overwhelming edge cratered in the days before the Iowa caucuses.” For one thing, the momentum has seesawed back and forth in the Clinton-Sanders race. It’s hyperbolic to say there’s any cratering going on. And looking back to 2008, the element of surprise at Clinton’s showing is apparently stronger in the rear-view mirror. The early leader in Iowa was John Edwards, not Hillary Clinton. And Obama was leading in an ABC/Washington Post poll as early as July.

Another major difference is the key dynamic in the Obama-Clinton contest, wherein his Iowa win instantly moved the bulk of African-American voters from her column to his after this demonstration of viability. Kane’s piece suggests the same thing could happen to Sanders, but the analogy is questionable unless there are vast numbers of self-described democratic socialists lurking in Clinton’s columns in the post–New Hampshire states, waiting for a sign.

But the biggest difference is in Clinton’s own team. It could not be 2008 all over again without Mark Penn, the ubiquitous pollster-strategist who offended just about everyone (including his many detractors in Hillaryland) and hogged media attention. By all accounts, in fact, the whole Clinton operation, under low-key campaign manager Robby Mook, is massively less fraught with rivalries and negative vibes. And the strategic lessons of 2008 have surely been learned; there is zero chance Clinton will neglect to devote resources to small-state caucuses, where Obama, nearly unopposed, offset her Super Tuesday wins.

One echo of 2008 that could be heard if Sanders manages to wrest the nomination away from Clinton is the reemergence of the PUMAs (short for “Party Unity My Ass”), women angry that their candidate had been repulsed in favor of a significantly less experienced man. And indeed, the anger could be more intense without the parallel history-making Obama represented. Yes, Bernie Sanders could be the first septuagenarian elected to a first term as president (and the first Democrat of that vintage to win a nomination), but that hardly seems the same.

Finally, it’s unlikely Clinton will lose in Iowa and then win New Hampshire, which is probably Sanders’s best state outside his own Vermont or perhaps those Bern-ed over grounds in the Pacific Northwest where he’s so immensely popular. But it’s also unlikely, at present, that she will get wiped out in a string of southern states stretching from Virginia to Louisiana the way she was by Obama, unless Sanders shows an appeal to African-Americans that he can only dream about at present.

The more you look at it, the more any 2008 “déjà vu” for Clintonians seems ill-placed. But if Mark Penn shows up at headquarters, all bets are off.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 18, 2016

January 19, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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