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“The Unfuzzy Math”: Bernie Sanders’s Final Few Days of California Dreamin’

So here we are. It all comes down to Calif—hey, wait. No, it doesn’t all come down to California.

That’s how Bernie Sanders has been framing next Tuesday, and the media have completely bought into it. Watching cable news, you’d think that if Bernie wins California, Jerry Garcia’s going to rise from his grave and the Dead will reunite and Sanders will be the nominee.

California’s big, and California’s razor close, and certainly it makes a difference whether Sanders or Hillary Clinton wins it. But not that big a difference. A whopping total of 475 delegates are at stake, but if it’s as close as the polls suggest, the winner stands to net a mere 20 or 30 delegates. Using this excellent delegate calculator, let’s go through all the remaining races and then circle back to the big prize, bearing in mind that right now, among pledged delegates, it’s Clinton up by 268, 1,769 to 1,501.

Saturday June 4, Virgin Islands. Seven delegates are at stake. The U.S.V.I. are three-quarters African American and just 15 percent white. So say Clinton wins it 75-25. She’ll take five delegates to Sanders’s two, netting three.

Sunday, June 5, Puerto Rico. I’ve been banging on about Puerto Rico being important because it has 60 delegates, which is a pretty big prize. Let’s say Clinton wins that one by, oh, 65-35, which doesn’t seem crazy. She’ll win the delegate contest 39-21, netting 18.

Then come all the contests on Tuesday, June 7:

South Dakota has 20 delegates. Say Sanders wins 60-40. He’ll win the delegate race 12-8, netting four.

North Dakota has 18 delegates. Give Sanders another 60-40 win here; again, he’ll win 11-7, netting another four.

Montana has 21 delegates. Give Sanders a third win of about that size. That’s 13-8 in terms of delegates, so he nets five more.

New Mexico is a little more interesting. It has 34 delegates. A poll came out earlier this week showing Clinton with a 26-point lead. I can’t quite believe that, but about half the turnout is expected to be Latino, so give Clinton New Mexico by 14 or 15 and she wins the delegate race 20-14, netting six.

Now we come to New Jersey and its 126 delegates. Not much polling. There was one in early April that showed Clinton +9, but early April was a long time ago. An early May survey had her +28, and a mid-May one +17. Sanders certainly hasn’t been competing there much. Let’s be if anything a little conservative and say Clinton wins it roughly 58-42. That translates into delegate totals of 73-53, so she’ll pick up 20 delegates.

So if these totals are about right, Clinton will win another 170 delegates, Sanders another 136. That would put her at 1,939 and him at 1,637. Which brings us to California.

California’s 475 pledged delegates are awarded in a pretty complicated way (here’s a PDF of the whole plan, if you’re interested). Most of them, 317, are awarded within congressional districts based on who won that district. There are 53 of those. In 2008, according to Bob Mulholland, the veteran California Democratic insider and a Clinton supporter this year, she won 42 of them. “But that’s an eight-year-old race,” as he noted to me, so who knows if it means anything for this year. Another little wrinkle is that all congressional districts aren’t created equal—some have as many as nine delegates, others as few as four. Just 105 delegates are awarded on the basis of the total statewide vote, and then there are 53 elected officials and party operatives who are pledged according to the results. That’s your 475. Then there are 73 superdelegates, from Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer on down.

But put them aside. This is about pledged delegates, right, because that’s what’s up for grabs when people vote. This brings us to one of the great obfuscations of this primary season.

You always read that a candidate needs 2,383 delegates to clinch the nomination. And that is true if you include superdelegates. Hang with me here, this matters. There are 4,051 pledged delegates and 713 supers. Add those two numbers together, then divide that by two, then add one (i.e., 50 percent plus one). That gets you to 2,383.

But if you’re talking pledged delegates only, 50 percent plus one is 2,026. You never see that number, and I guess I understand why—2,383 is the number, officially. But 2,026 is a majority of pledged delegates—you know, the ones you win by persuading voters to pull the lever with your name on it. I’ve been mystified as to why the Clinton people aren’t pushing more awareness of the 2,026 number. If the situation were reversed, we can be sure that Jeff Weaver would be all over cable denouncing the mere existence of 2,383, that strutting harlot of a number!

So it’s next Tuesday night in California. The state-by-state delegate scenario that I played out above has occurred. Clinton is at 1,939, needing just 87 delegates out of California to hit 2,026. Do you know how badly Sanders would have to beat her to limit her to 86 delegates? No, you don’t. But I do. He’d have to win by 82 to 18 percent. That would net Bernie 309 delegates out of California and would get him to 2,026, while she’d have 2,025.

That isn’t going to happen. What’s going to happen, even if Sanders wins the state by, say, three or four points, is that he will net about 20 delegates, but she will still have won around 225 or 230, meaning she will exceed 2,026 by about 150 delegates, and Sanders will be short of the magic number by about the same amount. And then there’ll be a little cherry placed on the sundae the following Tuesday when the District of Columbia votes and Clinton wins big and nets another 10 or so delegates.

So that’s the unfuzzy math. It has nothing at all to do with the superdelegates Sanders and Weaver have spent months traducing. It’s pledged delegates, earned in the voting booth (or at the caucus hall). Superdelegates will never, ever, ever undo such an outcome, and they never, ever, ever should. In a season when Sanders people have alleged a rigged system and sometimes outright theft, that would be the only actual case of theft in this season—for superdelegates to tell the voters sorry, you made the wrong choice when you chose your candidate, who is (incidentally) the first woman nominee in our party’s history.

And then California Democrats will meet after the fact at the Long Beach Hyatt Regency on June 19 to formalize everything, just like that recent meeting in Nevada. But let’s not even go there.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 3, 2016

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, California Primary, Hillary Clinton, Pledged Delegates | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Momentum Is Irrelevant”: Why Bernie Sanders Supporters Can’t Accept The Grim End Of Their Crusade

It’s hard to say goodbye to something you love — and there are a lot of people right now who absolutely love Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. As well they should. It has been one of the most remarkable happenings in the recent history of American politics, as a rumpled, crotchety 74-year-old socialist put together a serious challenge to the Democratic Party’s anointed candidate, raising over $200 million and energizing young people across the country for a revolutionary crusade to remake American politics.

So you can understand why Sanders supporters have trouble accepting that there’s just no way for him to be the party’s nominee. Part of it comes from the fact that, technically, it’s still possible for Sanders to prevail. Yes, it would require him to persuade nearly every remaining Democratic voter to cast a ballot for him, and then get all the superdelegates now supporting Clinton to flip as well. So who knows?

Here’s the brutal truth, though: No matter how the big prize of California comes out next Tuesday, Clinton is still going to have a majority of the delegates and is still going to be the Democratic nominee. As Harry Enten has observed, it’s a near-certainty that Clinton will officially pass the number of delegates she needs when New Jersey closes its polls at 8 p.m. eastern on Tuesday. Even though the California primary looks to be extremely close — the widely revered Field Poll shows Clinton leading Sanders by a margin of 45 percent to 43 percent, and other recent polls have found similar splits — since Democrats allocate delegates proportionally, the two candidates will gain similar numbers of delegates. It won’t matter at that point who nosed out who in that last big contest.

But tell that to a Sanders supporter, and you’ll likely get an earful of protestation. That’s not because they aren’t rational people, it’s because they have so much invested in his campaign — often financially or in terms of the time they’ve spent, but mostly emotionally. Bernie has promised them so much, and the campaign has accomplished so much, that saying, “Oh well, we gave it a good shot but it didn’t work out” must seem like a betrayal of everything they’ve been fighting for.

Hillary Clinton has offered her supporters little in the way of grand dreams and glorious visions of transformation. She’s a pragmatic politician presenting a pragmatic program. Sanders, on the other hand, is a candidate of revolution. He asked his supporters to believe in something epic, to change their thinking about what’s possible in politics. If you Felt the Bern, you yourself were transformed. To admit that the campaign is over means admitting that the dream is dead, and that person you wanted to be — hopeful, committed, optimistic — was wrong about what was possible.

Add to that the fact that Sanders supporters have convinced each other that the system is rigged, which means that any outcome other than Sanders winning is not just unfortunate but fundamentally illegitimate. If you believe that, it means that once you assent to a Clinton victory you’ve assented to corruption.

While Sanders himself has gotten some criticism for not bowing out already or acknowledging that it’s all over, you can’t blame him — and when you watch him being interviewed in recent weeks, you can see his internal struggle. He surely feels that at the very least, he has an obligation to stay in the race long enough for all his supporters to have the chance to cast their ballots for him. And it would be weird to say, “I’m still in the race, even though I know I’ve lost.” So he can be forgiven for putting the best face on things, even if it sometimes means he has to stray into fantasyland. “If we win California, and if we win South Dakota, and North Dakota and Montana and New Mexico and New Jersey, and the following week do well in Washington, D.C.,” he told rapturous supporters this week, “I think we will be marching into the Democratic convention with an enormous amount of momentum.”

Which is, of course, ridiculous. First of all, he’s not going to win all those places. But even if he did, Clinton will still have passed beyond the majority of delegates she needs. After all the voting is done, “momentum” is irrelevant. It’s like saying that even though your team lost the game 5-4, the fact that you scored a run in the ninth inning means you ought to be considered the winner.

Even after all the TV anchors and newspaper headlines declare that Clinton is now the nominee of the party, there will be a few Sanders supporters who refuse to accept it (and those few will surely have no problem finding cameras into which they can air their grievances). They’ll say Bernie can still make his case to the superdelegates, that they’re holding out for the FBI to indict Clinton, that it was never a fair fight to begin with. If you feel the urge to mock, consider sparing a sympathetic thought for them.

They’ve come a long way, and their idealism is something our system needs. And eventually, even if it takes a while, they’ll make their peace with defeat.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, June 3, 2016

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Everyday Is A Whining Road”: The Moral Difference Between An Imperfect Democrat And A Dangerous Republican

Is the Hillary Clinton campaign prepared for the possibility that Bernie Sanders may never actually concede?

Even if Clinton wins big in the New Jersey Democratic primary on June 7 and thus reaches 2,383 delegates* (regardless of the outcome in the California primary that night), it’s difficult to see him throwing in the towel prior to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, where he has already signaled that he will petition superdelegates to hand the nomination over to him, on the grounds that he is (in theory, anyway) a stronger general-election candidate than Clinton. The dream of unity between Clinton and Sanders after the conclusion of the primaries is unlikely to ever come true: the visceral hatred that Sanders so obviously feels for Clinton is simply not going to dissipate.

As the old joke goes, even Stevie Wonder can see that Sanders is going to have an epic meltdown at the convention if superdelegates reject his request for the nomination. The behavior of Sanders, his campaign staff, and some of his supporters is profoundly disappointing to those who wanted Sanders to play a constructive and healthy role in defining the post-Obama Democratic Party. During the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton may have said a few undiplomatic words about Obama in the final days of her campaign, but it never seemed as though Clinton personally loathed the future president. Things are much different this time around.

I was disturbed watching Sanders’s interview on CNN’s State of the Union last weekend; Sanders seemed to be filled with a dark rage, an intense bitterness, a scornful tone. Sanders came across as a man who believes he is morally entitled to the Democratic nomination, who looks down upon those who think Clinton would be the party’s best representative, whose soul is now filled with palpable jealousy and contempt for Clinton.

Like Kevin Drum, I have to ask: what happened to Sanders? Why didn’t he remain positive? Why didn’t he and his campaign understand that putting Clinton down wouldn’t raise him up?

Clinton and the Democratic Party should be quite concerned about the prospect of a disastrous convention, disrupted by Sanders supporters upset over their hero not getting what they believe he was entitled to. (Just because chairs weren’t thrown the last time around doesn’t mean they won’t be thrown the next time.) If Sanders speaks at the convention and begins to make disparaging and disrespectful remarks about Clinton, current Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or the allegedly villainous members of the Democratic “establishment,” will convention organizers feel compelled to cut his microphone?

It’s sad to see Sanders fall into the same intellectual abyss that the progressive radio host Sam Seder fell into three years ago, during the special election to fill the seat left vacant by the passing of New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg–the intellectual abyss that prevents one from recognizing the moral difference between a imperfect Democrat and a dangerous Republican. Who would have thought that when Sanders announced his presidential bid last year, he would become the biggest cautionary tale in American politics?

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 28, 2016

May 30, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Vainglory And Cult Of Personality”: Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Isn’t About Ideas Anymore. It’s About Him

Bernie Sanders made a huge mistake this week. It’s one that, if not soon corrected, could squander the sizeable influence he has over his party’s platform, and, more indelibly, create for the eventual Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a schism in the party that she does not have the means to reconcile.

The error: Bernie’s campaign became a vehicle to advance Bernie Sanders’ vainglory and cult of personality. His staff responded irresponsibly to violence at the state caucuses in Nevada. He compounded their tone deaf responses by wrapping a muted condemnation of the chaos inside a long justification of the complaints that caused it.

Clinton won Nevada by six points on Feb. 20. The rules for delegate selection are clear. They are complex but they are not opaque. Sanders knew them going in to the race, and by accepting delegates, he has signed on to their legitimacy. He can protest them and try to revise them, but he cannot, in good conscience, urge his supporters to ignore them — or to find them unfair, inter alia, as the stakes change.

But before you accuse me of not understanding what really was at stake, let me explain for you the reason why Sanders’s supporters got so angry.

The rules say that the chairperson of the state convention can call for a voice vote to approve the adoption of the credentials report — basically a list of delegate identities submitted by each campaign. The chairperson of the Nevada State Convention, Roberta Lange, did just that. The room erupted. Sanders’s supporters were angry that the credentials report had enshrined the selection of many more Clinton supporters than Sanders supporters, and they loudly tried to “no” vote the approval process. Lange reasoned — reasonably — that the volume of the nays did not reflect the size of the nay vote. (Indeed, there were more Clinton supporters in the room.) Only Lange can decide whether to call for a roll call vote, or some other mechanism. Those are the rules. Even as Sanders supporters screamed at her, spitting cusses in her direction, she decided not to. That’s her prerogative. Those are the rules.

A responsible answer to this chaos from the Sanders campaign would have been to say: “We think the rules are unfair and did not give voice to our supporters, and we will try to revise the rules to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

That is not the answer that Sanders’s campaign gave. Instead, they (once again) questioned the legitimacy of the party. Questioning the legitimacy of the institution that you’ve chosen to work inside of is tantamount to a call for a revolt. If the DNC and its proxies are not legitimate, then, indeed, the election IS being stolen from Bernie Sanders, and since a hell of a lot IS at stake, then agitation verging on violence is pretty much the only alternative short of going home and giving up.

It’s fine for Sanders supporters in the heat of battle to believe this, but it is beyond irresponsible for Sanders’s campaign to encourage the provenance of this view. Why? Because it’s not true. It simply isn’t. The rules are not rigged in favor of or against any particular candidate. They can’t be. They were set long before the candidates entered the race. They haven’t been capriciously changed. Indeed, they are skewed in FAVOR of Sanders: He has received more delegates than his popular vote totals should see him allocated, assuming that, as he does, the only real form of democracy is direct. Or maybe not: He has repeatedly said that the party does a disservice when it doesn’t allow independents to vote in its primaries. And he has also said that he represents the “working people” — the “working people” only vote for him. (Do Clinton supporters not work?)

His campaign is descending into semiotic babble. He is creating unrealistic expectations for his supporters. If those expectations cannot be met by a reconciliation, and if the party truly cannot convince a large number of Sanders delegates that they have been treated fairly, then his delegates could cause real trouble at the convention. They could prevent Clinton from uniting the party. They could prevent Sanders from keeping the party accountable for its promises to voters. They could nullify the very real power Sanders has right now to remold the party in the image of the type of candidate who is independent and more attentive to working class voters.

In other words, his blinders, put upon him by campaign staff and other hangers-on, are hurting his cause right now. I’ve vacillated about whether a responsible Democrat should want Sanders to stay in the race, given that his chances of winning the nomination by accumulating delegates are vanishingly small, and that his arguments that superdelegates should follow the expressed will of their state’s voters have fallen largely on the back of necks — ears have turned away. For me, it came to down to the future of the party. If Sanders’s movement was best served by his presence in the race, he should stay in. If not, he should bow out. For a while, his victories in demographically appropriate states, his willingness to tone down his attacks against Clinton, his musings about building the party’s bench down the ballot — all of these pointed to a man with mature instincts for a tempered use of his considerable power.

Even his supporters know: Bernie’s campaign isn’t about them. It’s about policies. It’s about removing the influence of big money in politics. It’s about fairer trade. It’s about an American manufacturing renaissance. It’s about, in other words, stuff for other people. The moment it becomes about him is the moment he needs to make it about that other stuff again. Time is running out.

 

By: Marc Ambinder, The Week, May 20, 2016

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Making The Case For Clinton”: Sanders Increasingly Appears Petulant And Shortsighted

Bernie Sanders is facing a critical test of his leadership, and so far he’s failing. When some of his supporters threw chairs at a mid-May convention of the Nevada State Democratic Party and threatened the life of Roberta Lange, the state party chairwoman, Sanders’ response was to paint the Democratic establishment — the leaders of the party with which he has had a marriage of convenience for decades — as corrupt.

He sounded more petulant than apologetic, more angry at his Democratic rival than alarmed at the actions of his supporters. That’s troubling.

There is an axiom, frequently quoted to younger folk who are facing difficulty, that says you are more accurately judged by your response to adversity than your response to advantage. There’s much truth in that — and Sanders, who is no longer young, should know it.

He is losing. He has run a lively, imaginative and uplifting campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and has attracted millions of supporters. He has influenced Hillary Clinton, the likely nominee, pushing her to the left on some critical issues, including trade.

But, as often is the case in life, that hasn’t been enough. It’s nearly impossible for him to win. He simply cannot get enough votes in the remaining primaries.

His response? He has accused Democrats of “rigging the system” against him and implicitly threatened to withhold his support from Clinton if he doesn’t win. He has made noises about a contested convention and suggested that he doesn’t care whether his tactics aid the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump.

In so doing, he simply makes the case for Clinton, who clearly is better suited, not only by experience but also by temperament, for a demanding job where you don’t always get your way. She has been just where Sanders is now — remember 2008? She didn’t threaten to turn the nominating convention upside down or insist that she’d been cheated.

Clinton ran an energetic contest against a young senator named Barack Obama — a contest that was sometimes rancorous and racially tinged. There were suggestions of a breach that would never be repaired, of a rivalry that was all-consuming, of a Democratic Party that would be riven for decades to come. But Clinton never suggested to her supporters that they stage a revolt.

And after she lost, she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, campaigned tirelessly for Obama. She later became his loyal and dedicated secretary of state.

(Obama, for his part, exhibited the equanimity for which he has become well known throughout the testy 2008 primary season. Though he started far behind Clinton in support from superdelegates, he persuaded many of them to change their allegiance to him without resorting to hints of blackmail. Can you imagine, by the way, what would have happened had the supporters of a black candidate thrown chairs and issued death threats?)

Sanders’ tactics, by contrast, are not only shortsighted and immature, but they are also dangerous, fueling the cynicism and suspicion that are eating away at the civic fabric. He is leading his voters to believe that he is being cheated out of the nomination, but that is simply not true.

The party rules that hand over outsized power to unelected superdelegates, most of whom are Clinton supporters, are not democratic (small “d”), but those rules have been in place for decades. Sanders never complained about them before.

Of course, Sanders hasn’t been a Democrat before, either. He has spent most of his career as an independent, a self-described socialist. While he usually votes with Democrats in the U.S. Senate, he has often snubbed them publicly, suggesting his colleagues were too wedded to a corrupt system. That is not the sort of history likely to persuade those same colleagues — many of whom are superdelegates — to support him for the nomination.

Sanders should reconsider his strategy. He could stay in the race until June (as Clinton did in 2008) and still gracefully concede and back her candidacy. He would return to the Senate in a position of power and prestige.

But if he continues his current course, his legacy might be to elect Trump as president. Is that terrifying prospect what Sanders wants?

 

By: Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, May 21, 2016

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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