The Rebel Alliance Is Real Too?
It seems inconceivable to me that we-- we, like in American progressives-- still haven't succeeded in persuading out fellow Democrats that there is a non-business-as-usual candidate running for president against a much better-known-- and much disliked-- establishment candidate. Bernie is the best candidate for president in my lifetime. Hillary, aside from being a woman, is just more of the same the insiders are always shoving down our throats. This week's NBCWall Street Journal national horserace poll shows that most Democrats count themselves as Hillary voters. Her polling is now 56%, down 6 from 62% in late October, while Bernie is drawing just 37%, up 6 in the same period.
How is it possible? She has great name recognition. Low-info voters-- half the electorate?-- still have no idea who Bernie is. She's a woman and many Democrats-- and not only women-- feel it is time, past time, for a woman president. Low-info voters have overwhelmingly fond memories of her husband's two terms in office and know nothing about his very centrist, pro-Wall Street, corporatist agenda. And, according to a strong post last week from Ron Hager at Counterpunch, many Democrats are convinced-- albeit wrongly-- that she is the more electable candidate. She isn't; Bernie is, something Gauis and I have been writing about all cycle. In his post this week Hager wrote that pollsters keep showing that though Hillary has a good chance to beat the Republican nominees also, Bernie outpolls them more strongly and more consistently. Most low-info Democrats think the opposite is true and he reminds them to remember "that it is independent voters, not party loyalists, who generally determine the outcome of typically close general elections. If Democrats really want to lose the 2016 election to a Republican they should by all means choose a candidate that Independents reject. Clinton is just the candidate for that job."
The HuffPo Pollster moving average of head-to-heads shows Bernie beating Trumpf substantially-- 49.2% to 43.2% while Hillary Clinton, also manages to beat Trumpf by a healthy margin, 47.5% to 43.5%. Simple enough, right? But now Hager gets a bit more abstract. It's worth paying attention.
Theoretically, in a democratic two party system the more centrist Democrat should normally appeal most to independents. Many Democratic voters may have missed their only honest former president Jimmy Carter’s useful anouncements that we no longer have a democracy. The US has become a full-fledged plutocracy due to the line of usually 5-4 “money is speech” decisions culminating most notoriously in Citizens United (2010) and McCutcheon (2014). Therefore the conventional wisdom does not hold true for the open election of 2016. For those concerned about electability to still hew to the more centrist candidate is misguided for two reasons.You can help. One way is here on an ActBlue page set up for Bernie and for congressional candidates who have endorsed him and are running on the same ideas and values he's running on.
First, the centrist position in a plutocracy is centrist not because it is supported by a majority of voters distributed around the bulge of the bell curve but rather because it falls within the area of paid bipartisan service to plutocrats. This plutocratic center where Clinton resides defines the safe position that will not be undermined by unanswerable quantities of paid bipartisan propaganda and a plutocratic mass media. Unlike Clinton, Sanders’ policy positions are not centrist in the plutocratic sense. They are virtually all majoritarian positions with voters, scaling the top of that bell curve. Many of them, like financial reform, are supported by large bipartisan majorities. Clinton has created a montage of Sanders’ positions modified so as to be unthreatening to plutocrats. Independent voters who decide elections are bell curve centrists, not plutocratic centrists.
Second, Sanders’ principal campaign message is about political inequality and the economic inequality that it causes. He is promising to fight the very plutocrats who are Clinton’s campaign contributors the only way possible, with an electoral revolution. Large majorities regularly report their desire to change the corrupt system in which the Clinton family has prospered. The 84% of all Americans who complained recently to pollsters that “money has too much influence” in campaigns included the same portion of Independents holding that view. Independents are at least as critical as partisans about political corruption, with 59% possessing the basic understanding about US plutocracy that most of the time incumbents “promote policies that directly help the people and groups who donated money to their campaigns.” Fewer partisan Democrats, only 53%, share this view that both parties are essentially corrupt. One reason increasing numbers of voters identify as Independent is disgust with the systemic political corruption managed by the two parties.
For these two reasons it is no surprise that the Quinnipiac poll shows that more Independents think Sanders shares their values compared to Clinton by 47-33%; more Independents think Sanders, compared to Clinton, really “cares about the needs and problems of people like” them by 59-40%; and vastly (38%) more Independents, 64% compared to 26% for Clinton-- and also a corroborating margin of Republicans, 39% to 7%-- think Sanders “is honest and trustworthy.”
The only important issue in the 2016 campaign is which candidate can honestly be trusted to act effectively to rescue democracy from the deadening grip of corruption on all levels of government. No important policy opposed by plutocrats can be accomplished until that happens. There is no conceivable reason to believe that Clinton will fulfill any campaign promises about reforming the corrupt plutocracy any more than Obama did when he violated his campaign promises in order to instead, in 2014, cleverly lead Democrats to vastly multiply the scope for political corruption to historic levels in Washington.
Independents by a large margin apparently believe Sanders does have the integrity to keep his campaign promise to fight plutocracy.
These comparative ratings of Sanders and Clinton help explain why only 38% of Independents have an overall favorable opinion of Clinton while 56% have an unfavorable opinion of her. (Only 5% have no opinion, leaving virtually no room for improvement in her negative numbers.) It is almost impossible for a Democrat to win an election with an 18% net negative favorability rating among Independents. Independents are now the plurality “party” at 43% of the electorate, compared to Democrats at 30%.
By stark contrast, Sanders exactly reverses Clinton’s Independent deficit by scoring an 18% positive favorability margin (47%-29%) among Independents. Since 24% of Independents still “haven’t … heard enough about him” to form an opinion, Sanders would, in a general election, almost certainly enlarge significantly this already-sufficient margin. This would achieve the mandate-conferring landslide Sanders and the country need to accomplish his electoral revolution.
Sanders is the Independents’ favorite candidate irrespective of party. You could say that Sanders, a lifelong Independent, is the leader of the Independents’ “party.” Clinton is the Independents’ least favorite candidate, aside from Trump and Bush who narrowly pass her for that honor. In head-to-head polling of Independents Sanders, far more comfortably than Clinton, beats every Republican candidate, with margins from 16% over Trump to 7% over Carson, who is the second favorite candidate of Independents. Using the terminology leveled against the Green Party, one could say that in 2016 it is the Democrats who are the “spoilers.” They can win by making a strategic alliance with the plurality of Independents, or risk defeat by insisting on their own “donor-driven” candidate.
This 36% favorability advantage with Independents that Sanders has over Clinton defines the actual substantial margin by which Sanders is more likely to win a general election than Clinton. Both candidates cam be assumed to attract the same number of Democrats according to Q-poll. The 36% spread provides a more reliable number than the expressed pre-primary preferences of partisans. And it is clearly more reliable than the Democrat’s current totally mistaken guesstimate about who they think is the more electable candidate.
It is a number that many Democrats need to learn at risk of helping to elect a Republican in 2016 if they insist on Clinton.
The Quinnipiac poll also helps identify which Democrats have been misled into supporting Clinton as more electable. The most startling difference between Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters is that, by 81%-6%, more Clinton supporters think the “right experience” and, by 70%-24%, that being a “strong leader,” is an important attribute for a presidential candidate in this election. Lower ratios of Clinton supporters compared to Sanders voters think attributes like values, authentic caring, and honesty are important. It seems to be irrelevant to her supporters that Clinton’s attributed advantage on experience and leadership seems to neglect the reality that Sanders has far more actual experience in more government offices than Clinton, that he has won countless elections compared to Clinton’s two practically uncontested dynastic coronations as Senator from the safe Democratic seat of New York, that he was a successful mayor compared to Clinton’s total lack of elected executive experience, while by all accounts Clinton was an unsuccessful Secretary of State-- her only “leadership” job to date, aside from leading the healthcare reform effort to hopeless defeat during the “feculent decade” of the corrupt Clinton presidency.
...If honesty and authenticity is the main issue in 2016, then Sanders wins overwhelmingly. As a decisive number of Independents apparently believe and [Cornel] West tells us, ”only Bernie has authenticity and integrity.” Let’s hope that West, and others, can persuade enough Democrats of both this fact, and perhaps more importantly of Obama’s lack of the same, before “spoiler Democrats” throw the general election to Republicans by nominating-- in a year characterized by populist demand for authenticity-- another “donor-driven” centrist who, like Obama, “posed as a progressive and turned out to be a counterfeit.”
Clinton lacks even a credible covering legend to absolve Democrats who are about to make the same mistake again. The Q-poll shows that Sanders presents these Democratic voters with the existential choice of attempting to at least start digging out of the corrupt plutocracy, instead or burrowing in even deeper with another Clinton.