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“Fear Of A Female Administration? We’ll See”: Who Second-Guesses A Ticket With Two Men?

Is America ready for a two-woman presidential ticket?

It certainly seems the Clinton campaign is considering the question. Hillary Clinton has made a high profile public appearance recently with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. They clicked so well that the Washington Post called them the “it” couple of Democratic politics.

At a rally in Ohio, Sen. Warren spoke with her customary sassy brilliance as Clinton looked on warmly. Warren for weeks has taken to Twitter to aim her quick wit and sharp invective at the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump. She showed she can play the role of the mean girl against the bully. She goaded Trump for his “goofy” hat, his simplistic sloganeering and his elite birth. Women cheered at the display of saucy sisterhood.

The public display of friendship seems to be a trial balloon, and many wondered when it would be burst by the pinprick of reality.

Two women? Could voters possibly be progressive enough to support such an estrogen-heavy ticket?

Some turned the question around: Who second-guesses a ticket with two men? Nobody, because we’ve been doing it that way for centuries.

True. But sexism is a fact of American politics. It will be front and center with Trump in the presidential race. The man cannot shape-shift into a gentleman no matter how much the GOP establishment works to improve him.

The unsettling reality is that Donald Trump can get elected to the White House by being a jerk. Hillary Clinton cannot.

Voters need to like female candidates more than they do male candidates. They can dislike a man running for office and still regard him as qualified and electable.

Likeability is not a litmus test for men. It tends to be for women, according to research by Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. And many people, even Democratic-leaning women, do not like Clinton all that much.

Another finding is that voters seldom think that woman candidate wins a debate with a male opponent. That might have something to do with assumptions about presentation — how a man can be viewed as tough and strong, whereas a woman with similar posturing will be viewed in a negative light. A man is still the model for what people view as a politician. Both genders tend to be more questioning of the qualifications of female candidates.

The 2016 presidential race exemplifies this. The idea that a virtual political nobody like Trump can be held on the same plane as a person like Clinton, with a long and distinguished record of public service, is offensive.

These are the unfair headwinds Hillary Clinton has to face.

Yet there are promising signs for her. Eighty percent of unmarried women support Clinton, according to polls, and she has a substantial lead among women voters generally. In fact, 2016 will be the first time that a majority of vote-eligible women are projected to be unmarried. Those numbers could easily turn the election in all states, according to Celinda Lake.

But alas, polling can only predict so much. Lake emphasizes that demography is not destiny. Voters have to turn out.

To some extent, this campaign can be about challenging sexism. But it would be foolish to underestimate the extent to which such bias persists and will motivate voters.

The same goes even if Clinton wins the White House. Women and girls will not suddenly be viewed as equals and treated with respect any more than African-Americans felt racial bias and discrimination lift from their lives with the election of Barack Obama. In fact, racism became in many ways more overt after Obama was inaugurated. One need only consider the widespread belief among white Republicans that Obama has divided the nation racially. (No, his presence in the White House just held the mirror up to America.)

Sexism will be similar for Clinton. It’s dying, slowly. Women are certainly far better off in work and home life than they were decades ago. But gender bias affects women and girls every minute of the day — in subtle digs, unrecognized effects of long-held beliefs as well as blatant verbal attacks. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But it is America, 2016. And it will impact the election.

Lake has another prediction: When the big money gets out and civility returns to American politics, you’ll see more women running for office. And more women candidates may also bring out more women voters.

The problem is that we are not there yet. We live in a time when Donald Trump can be seriously considered as a candidate to lead the greatest nation on Earth. We clearly have work to do.

 

By:Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, July 2, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Women in Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“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

“Giant Gap In Voter Participation”: If You Want A More Democratic Nominating Process, Take A Look At Caucuses First

There are, among the 50 states (the territories are another matter), 20 nominating contests left in this presidential cycle between the two parties.  Nineteen of them are primaries, which means (with the exception of North Dakota Democrats) we can close the book on this year’s caucuses. The numbers are not very pretty in terms of participation.

An analysis published last week by Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball of turnout in both parties for primaries and caucuses over the course of this year shows a predictable but still startling disconnect between levels of participation in the two basic types of events:

As a matter of participation, it matters considerably whether a state or territory uses a primary or a caucus. So far this year, in the 22 states where both parties have held primaries, the combined turnout of registered voters has been a reasonably healthy 36.1%. But in the eight states where both parties have used caucuses instead of primaries, just 11.3% of registered voters have cast a ballot.

Turnout in the all-caucus states ranged from a high of 17.6 percent in Utah (followed closely by Iowa at 17.1 percent) all the way down to 6.5 percent in Alaska. There were five additional states that held caucuses in one party and either conventions or yet-to-be-held primaries in the other, and their caucuses rang in at single-digit turnout percentages.

Those in either party who like to complain about party elites controlling the nominating process instead of voters should be focusing on the primary-caucus participation differences before worrying about anything else. In particular, Bernie Sanders and his supporters, who have been making the case that closed primaries unacceptably disenfranchise independents, should be equally willing to oppose the use of caucuses, which exclude far more voters, including those who in a primary state might be offered an opportunity for early or absentee voting (though it should be noted that Iowa pioneered limited absentee and distance voting in this year’s caucuses). That would involve, of course, acknowledging that many of Sanders’s best states, where he’s often been able to win very high percentages of delegates, have been in low-turnout caucus states (he’s won them in Utah, Minnesota, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Alaska, Washington, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska). And that’s why Sanders’s share of the popular vote is significantly lower than his share of pledged delegates.

Fairness is fairness, though, and reforms cannot follow any one campaign’s grievances. Sabato argues that caucuses themselves should be reformed, and where that’s not possible, abolished:

[C]aucus states should be required by the parties or state law to make extensive efforts to include soldiers, the ill and infirm, and those who must be working or traveling during the designated caucus time. Some early, absentee balloting is simply essential to any basic notion of fairness.

Even with reforms, the giant gap in voter participation between primaries and caucuses cannot be bridged. Why not have each caucus state hold a separate primary? Occasionally, state parties have done just this — such as Texas Democrats, whose “Texas Two-Step” was done away with before 2016, or Washington Republicans, who used both a caucus and a primary in some prior cycles. Some proportion of the delegates can be picked or apportioned by the caucus and the rest by the primary. This hybrid could combine the benefits of each nominating system. This would apply to Iowa, too. To satisfy “first-in-the-nation” New Hampshire, a primary state, Iowa has to choose a caucus — but the Hawkeye State could stage a separate primary later in the calendar.

One practical problem is that some state parties hold caucuses for financial reasons: Legislatures don’t authorize (or pay for) state-run primaries, leaving parties holding the bag. If they chose, of course, the national parties could use their leverage over credentialing delegates to coerce states to hold primaries, and barring that, could require state parties to make caucuses more like primaries — abandoning, for example, the complex multistep delegate-selection processes or non-presidential discussion topics that make caucuses, especially among Democrats (who often follow the Iowa model), a lengthy and voter-unfriendly prospect. For that matter, it’s worth noting that technically caucus participants are not “voters,” but “caucusgoers.” The distinction is a useful reminder that attending a caucus does not bring with it the protections and privileges of voting, and thus should not yield its rewards, either.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, April 27, 2016

April 29, 2016 Posted by | Caucuses, Democracy, Electoral Process, Primaries | , , , | Leave a comment

“A Lone Ranger”: Not Much Evidence Donald Trump Can Win The Presidency On The Shoulders Of The White Working Class

It took the chattering classes a while to figure out that Donald Trump had a particular appeal to white non-college-educated Republican primary voters. But once they figured it out, some leaped to a very different proposition: that Trump could ride an army of white working-class voters to the White House despite his many electoral weaknesses, via boffo performances in normally Democratic-leaning midwestern states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa (all carried twice by Barack Obama).

A closer look at the data shows Trump not quite so dominant among non-college-educated white voters (particularly outside the South), and not adding enough value in this one demographic compared to what he loses in others.

The most sophisticated version of the argument that Trump could have a narrow path to victory comes from the estimable Ron Brownstein, who believes that all other things being equal, Trump might reverse some narrow Democratic margins in the Midwest by reversing equally narrow Democratic margins (atypical for the country as a whole) among white working-class voters. I emphasize the qualifier because it’s not all that likely that all other things will be equal with Trump at the top of the ticket; he will surely lose some 2012 Romney voters, perhaps a lot of them.

But it’s important to remember that Republicans are already winning non-college-educated white voters by a big margin. Mitt Romney won an estimated 62 percent of this vote in 2012. Any Trump “bonus” will have to come either from improvements in that number, increased white working-class turnout (against the stiff wind of that group’s declining share of the population), or from some significant redistribution of the white working-class vote by region or state.

One broad indicator of the very different picture you get by shifting from white working-class voters within Republican primaries and white working-class voters generally is in the new ABC/Washington Post analysis of Trump’s favorability ratios among different demographic groups. He comes in at 47-52 among non-college-educated whites, a truly terrible performance not just in terms of his perceived strengths but as compared to Romney’s actual support in the last election.

But there’s some more granular evidence as well of the limits of Trump’s white working-class vote in a competitive environment in the very midwestern cockpit where it should matter most. At the Democratic Strategist (disclosure: I have a long association with that site), Andrew Levison has examined the relative performance of all candidates from both parties in three recent midwestern open primaries, and shown that Trump’s share of the total white working-class vote ranged from 26 percent in Illinois to 30 percent in Ohio (where he actually lost the primary to John Kasich). These numbers should reflect whatever appeal Trump has among marginal voters — i.e., those he can uniquely bring to the polls. Moreover, despite significantly higher overall turnout, the Republican field with Trump in it registered less than overwhelming margins among white working-class voters in Illinois (56 percent) and Michigan (58 percent). Republicans did win 67 percent in Ohio, almost certainly as a product of the appeal not of Trump but of home-state governor John Kasich.

Even if you only discount the GOP percentage of white working-class voters in these midwestern states a few points to reflect across-the-board turnout factors that probably had little to do with any one demographic, it’s not looking like the kind of tsunami that could come close to offsetting Trump’s probable drop in Romney-level support in other parts of the electorate — most notably in Republican-leaning women and highly educated professionals. The ABC/Washington Post analysis put Trump’s favorability ratios at 14-85 among Hispanics, at 18-80 among voters under the age of 35, at 29-68 among white women, and at 23-74 among white college graduates. This is a long, long way from looking like a winning coalition.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, April 1, 2016

April 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, GOP Primaries, White Working Class | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Reagan Democrats Are Gone”: Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Need White Men

The New York Times today has an article of a kind we’ve seen before and will likely see many times again before this election is over, warning that Hillary Clinton has a serious problem with white men, a problem that could threaten her ability to win a general election:

White men narrowly backed Hillary Clinton in her 2008 race for president, but they are resisting her candidacy this time around in major battleground states, rattling some Democrats about her general-election strategy.

While Mrs. Clinton swept the five major primaries on Tuesday, she lost white men in all of them, and by double-digit margins in Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, exit polls showed — a sharp turnabout from 2008, when she won double-digit victories among white male voters in all three states…

The fading of white men as a Democratic bloc is hardly new: The last nominee to carry them was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and many blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” now steadily vote Republican. But Democrats have won about 35 to 40 percent of white men in nearly every presidential election since 1988. And some Democratic leaders say the party needs white male voters to win the presidency, raise large sums of money and, like it or not, maintain credibility as a broad-based national coalition.

I’m not sure who the “Democratic leaders” are who think that, because the only one the article quotes is Bill Richardson, who’s been out of politics for a few years and frankly was never considered a strategic genius to begin with. But here’s the truth: Hillary Clinton doesn’t need white men.

Let’s be more specific. Clinton will have the support of tens of millions of white men. But she doesn’t need to do any better among them than any Democrat has, and even if she does worse, she’ll probably be completely fine.

That’s because whites are declining as a proportion of the electorate as the country grows more diverse with each passing year. In 1992, just 24 years ago, whites made up 87 percent of the voters, according to exit polls. By 2012 the figure had declined to 72 percent. Since women vote at slightly higher rates than men, white men made up around 35 percent of the voters.

Those numbers will be lower this year, which means that even if nothing changes in how non-whites vote, Republicans will need to keep increasing their margins among whites to even stay where they are overall — in other words, to keep losing by the same amount.

By way of illustration, in 1988, George H.W. Bush won 60 percent of white voters on his way to beating Michael Dukakis by seven points. In 2012, Mitt Romney did just as well among whites, winning 59 percent of their votes. But he lost to Barack Obama by four points. The electorate is now even less white than it was four years ago, which means that Donald Trump (or whoever the GOP nominee is) will have to do not just better among whites than Romney did in order to win, but much better.

Exactly how much better is difficult to say because we don’t know exactly what turnout will look like among different groups (David Bernstein recently estimated that Trump would have to get at least 70 percent of the white male vote, compared to Mitt Romney’s 62 percent). But as turnout increases among groups other than white men, the need to run up the score among white men gets higher and higher. And for certain groups — particularly Latinos and women of all races — Donald Trump provides an extraordinary incentive to get out and vote. Not only that, as I argued yesterday, women are likely to vote in even stronger numbers for Clinton.

It’s true that Clinton has done worse among white male voters in this year’s primaries than she did in 2008. But we should be extremely wary of taking voting results in primaries and extrapolating them out to the general election. For starters, the overwhelming majority of people who vote in primaries will vote for their party’s nominee in November, whether they supported him/her in the primary or not. Furthermore, the general electorate is a completely different group of people than the primary electorate, and they’ll be presented with a different choice.

The Times article talks to some white men who don’t like Clinton, and it’s always worthwhile to hear those individual voices in order to understand why certain people vote the way they do. But when you pull back to the electorate as a whole, you realize that there just aren’t enough votes among white men for Republicans to mine. The reason is simple: they’ve already got nearly all they’re going to get. While some people entertain the fantasy that there are huge numbers of “Reagan Democrats” just waiting to cross over, the Reagan Democrats are gone. They all either died (it was 36 years ago that they were identified, remember) or just became Republicans. The GOP already has them, and it isn’t enough.

Finally, the idea that the Democrats can’t “maintain credibility as a broad-based national coalition” unless they get more votes from white men is somewhere between absurd and insane. We have two main parties in this country. One of them reflects America’s diversity, getting its votes from a combination of whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and people of other ethnicities. Its nominee got 55 percent of his votes in 2012 from whites — smaller than their proportion of the population as a whole, but still a majority of those who voted for him.

The other party is almost entirely white; its nominee got 90 percent of his votes from whites in 2012. And we’re supposed to believe that if that party gets even more white, then it will be the one that’s “broad-based”?

Obviously, every candidate would like to get strong support from every demographic group. But if there’s one group Hillary Clinton can afford not to worry too much about, it’s white men. Most of them are going to vote against her anyway, and even if they do, she still would have a decent chance of winning the election.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, March 18, 2016

March 21, 2016 Posted by | General Election 2016, Hillary Clinton, Reagan Democrats, White Men | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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