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“A Common Purpose”: Nevada Gives Hillary Clinton A Clear Path To Victory

Hillary Clinton needed a decisive victory in Nevada to put to rest fears that her campaign was in trouble, and it looks like she got it. At this writing, with final results still to come, it appears that she will win by four or five percentage points, basically matching her 2008 win in the state over Barack Obama. With this victory, Clinton has a clear path for pushing aside her too-close win in Iowa and big loss in New Hampshire. She can plausibly argue that Bernie Sanders’s coalition is too narrow—that it is, in particular, too heavily white—to reflect the Democratic Party, which after all is a multi-racial coalition.

And she’s clearly aiming to broaden her own coalition. In her victory speech, Clinton incorporated many of the themes of Sanders’s campaign, emphasizing economic populist messages like student debt. She also made sure to note (a la Sanders) that most of her funding comes from small donors contributing less than $100. And throughout the speech, she repeatedly used the communitarian “we”—a response perhaps to criticism that her campaign has been too much about her leadership and experience, and not enough about common purpose.

If this win is followed by Clinton’s expected victory in next Saturday’s South Carolina primary and the six Southern states of Super Tuesday on March 1, she has a clear path to racking up enough delegates to be the prohibitive front-runner, especially in light of her strong lead among the Democratic super-delegates. The irony is that Clinton might end up making the same argument from delegate math that Obama made in 2008. If Clinton wants to wrap up the primary early, she could soon be in a position to argue that the delegate math overwhelmingly favors her—and Sanders would have to make the same argument that Clinton did in 2008, when Obama took the lead, that every voter needs to be heard from and that he could still conceivably win a majority of votes going forward.

The news isn’t entirely bleak for Sanders. He doesn’t have as clear a path out of Nevada, but he has done better in the state than he could’ve been expected to do even a few weeks ago. By all logic, a state where the demographics trend both older and non-white should have been a bigger Clinton blow-out. Even as the Clinton campaign will likely gather force in the Southern states, Sanders can still make a credible showing in other Super Tuesday states like Colorado, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. In theory, if he does well enough in those states he can make the race tighter again nationally, especially if the inroads he appeared to make among young Latinos in Nevada can be replicated elsewhere.

But just how well Sanders actually did with Latinos in Nevada is murky. Entrance polls showed Sanders winning Latinos, but these results are suspect given the fact that he lost the race. What’s more plausible is that he was at least competitive with Latinos, given the margin of the final vote—heartening for Sanders, but hardly convincing proof that he’s made the breakthrough with non-white voters that he needs.

Ultimately, the harder part for Sanders going forward will be crafting a plausible narrative. Coming out of Nevada, Clinton can reasonably argue that she won in a state that looks much more like the Democratic coalition than largely white states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton has the support of women (although it’s not clear if she won young women in Nevada after losing them in New Hampshire), African-Americans, and Latinos. That is close to the coalition that Obama used to win two elections in a row. The only thing missing from the equation is the enthusiasm of young people, which Sanders still has.

As the challenger, Sanders has the more difficult task of proving that he can both bring in new voters and appeal to loyal Democrats. So far, Sanders has been more successful at the first half of the equation. And unless he can make genuine inroads among African-Americans and improve with Latinos above what he’s achieved in Nevada, it’ll be hard for him to argue that he represents the broader Democratic Party. Even a self-professed revolutionary has to work with the existing party before he or she can expand it. Sanders remains a viable candidate, but coming out of Nevada he faces the bigger burden of forging a winning coalition.

 

By: Jeet Heer, The New Republic, February 20, 2016

February 21, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Nevada Caucus | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Hillary vs. The World”: Opponents’ New Tactic Is To Paint The Party As Colluding With The Frontrunner

There aren’t going to be a lot of “Minnesota nice” jokes coming out of this weekend’s Democratic National Committee meeting here in the Twin Cities.

Sure, speakers did obligatory eye-pops at the promise of state fair food, made Garrison Keillor references, and sang Paul Wellstone praises. But there were two ardent, rabble-rousing speeches by underdog candidates that made it a Democrat-on-Democrat bloodbath all afternoon.

Coming into 2016, the DNC crafted a debate schedule apparently designed to usher Hillary Clinton through a gentle primary process. The committee may have protected her, today’s meeting showed at what cost. Clinton’s two main rivals used the DNC as a backboard for bankshots at her. The DNC itself was a target, and Clinton’s challengers hit at it repeatedly and to great applause.

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley hooked his entire speech around a linguistic barb, calling out the Democrats’ lack of debates for being literally “undemocratic.” More daringly, Sen. Bernie Sanders warbled a doomsday tune: If the Democrats continue with “politics as usual,” “establishment politics or establishment economics,” he warned, then they “will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races.” The only part of his speech that wasn’t vicious criticism was clearly a lie: “With all due respect,” he said, “And I do not mean to insult anyone here.”

Well, on that last part Sanders might well tell true. By the time he had spoken, Hillary Clinton wasn’t there.

Cynics might say that was according to plan. The day’s speaking schedule, advertised as being in alphabetic order, put Clinton in a sweet spot: mid-morning, right after a wistful and mild Lincoln Chaffee. Not a bad expectation-setter, as opening acts go.

More fodder for those looking for conspiracy: Her speech went ten minutes longer than the committee claimed to allow. Her lack of nerves showed. She hit every mark, nailed every applause line and even summoned some laughs. (Truly, Donald Trump’s most significant Democratic donation is in-kind: He’s given Hillary a punchline that’s not about email, and a few more about hair.)

Her delivery reflected the deliberate lack of urgency her entire campaign wants to convey. Going into the committee’s meeting, the Clinton campaign placed a story claiming the primary all but over before a single vote has been cast. With 130 superdelegates already publicly committed, Clinton officials told “supporters and the undecided” that “private commitments increase that number to more than 440—about 20 percent” of what she needs to for the nomination itself.

I have my doubts about that story, mainly because it’s impossible to check. But as important as whether it’s true is that Clinton’s people want everyone to believe it.

Sanders’ success in turning out crowds has given him the most obvious retort. At the meeting itself, his supporters were raucous and eager to stand, rising from their chairs to thunder approval at a litany of not just good progressive causes (from mass incarceration to the minimum wage)—the same stuff of Hillary’s speech hours before. Even more insistently, they hooted encouragement at Sanders’ thundering against the establishment that Sanders was there to address. His argument was Sanders-centered but succinct: I am generating crowds and excitement, and without them, the Obama coalition is going to stay home.

O’Malley’s argument was necessarily more small-bore, but ingeniously formed. Sanders’ doomsaying was non-specific and grim—invoking the specter of loss but not focusing that much on what they’d lose to. O’Malley, on the other hand, mounted a race against Trump—and his platform was simple: “We’re better than this.” Without more debates, he asserted, the Democratic party will cede the whole conversation: “Will we let the circus run unchallenged on every channel, as we cower in the shadows under a decree of silence in the ranks?”

Sanders’ crowd may have been more ardent, but O’Malley’s rhetoric was craftier—lines like that prodded applause that seemed to fade in confusion, as if Hillary supporters could not help but endorse a distinction between their party and Trump, but then had to remember who was drawing the distinction from whom.

Both Sanders and O’Malley’s boldness fell short of breaking the Clinton omerta from the podium. They declined to furnish ad fodder for next fall. But in the press conferences afterwards, egged on by reporters to go from bank shots to point blank, both men were unable to resist direct jabs.

Both were asked they felt the debate schedule was rigged in Hillary’s favor, and both simply said, “yes.” O’Malley in particular couldn’t wait to say more. He was proud of how obvious he’d been: “I don’t think I was hinting, I thought I was pretty clear.” Sanders dredged up some sarcasm when a reporter wanted to know if by “establishment” he meant Hillary: “I’ll let you use your imagination on that.”

Who knows what Clinton makes of all this. Defensive mode, ironically, is what she does best.

 

By: Ana Marie Cox, The Daily Beast, August 29, 2015

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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