Tom Cahill: Democratic Party is "in for a shellacking" If They Nominate Clinton. Here's Why.
Turnout in the most recent 2016 Democratic contests relative to 2008 (source; my annotation)
by Gaius Publius
I want to do two parallel pieces, one today and one tomorrow. The piece today points to Tom Cahill's reflections on Hillary Clinton's chances of beating Donald Trump in a general election. His bottom line: She'll get a "shellacking." He explains why below.
Tomorrow I'll have a nice piece by a Daily Kos data wrangler (not MattTX, but someone as talented), who lays out a Sanders path to victory and the underlying reasons. Stay tuned.
Why Would Independents Turn Out for Clinton?
Now Cahill. His bottom line is that Sanders supporters include a large number of independents, along with those Democrats looking to change the way their party does "business." That should be no surprise — Sanders himself is an independent — but it leads to a couple of important conclusions. The first is that these independents are unlikely to vote for Clinton in a general election, at least in large numbers. (Again, if they're not Democrats, but "independents," that should make perfect sense.)
The second is that in almost all states where Clinton won, turnout for the Democratic contest was down, and in most states where Sanders won, turnout was up. Sanders is attracting new voters, especially independents, to vote Democratic, and Clinton does not.
So how does a party win a "change" election with low turnout among independents?
Cahill (my emphasis):
Aside from [the fact that even the New York Times sees a path to a Sanders win], many of Bernie Sanders’ supporters aren’t Democrats. Sanders himself has identified as an independent throughout his entire career, with the exception of the 2016 election. And he’ll be the first to tell you that he only ran as a Democrat so the media would perceive him as a serious challenger to Hillary Clinton. Likewise, his supporters are largely independents and young voters under the age of 35, and roughly half of those young voters identify as independents, despite their tendency to lean leftward in their politics.I'm not sure she pulls it off — wins in the general election without turnout from Sanders-supporting independents. And driving down turnout even further is the fact that this is not a cosmetic election — an election between candidates with largely similar views. (In that sense, 2008 was a cosmetic election; you picked the person you liked more, or the "first-ever" barrier you wanted to break first.)
In fact, between 2004 and 2014, the percentage of young voters who identified as independent rather than Democrat jumped from 38 percent to 50 percent. And in all of the states Bernie Sanders has won, and even the states he’s lost by considerable margins, like Virginia and Tennessee, he’s still managed to capture a wide majority of independents and voters under the age of 35. It’s unrealistic to expect these largely independent voters to switch to the Democratic Party and vote for an elite member of the Democratic establishment.
This election year is about two radically different, diametrically opposed, theories of politics. For many, this election is about core values. Nothing cosmetic in that.
[L]et’s be honest — the entire reason so many Bernie Sanders supporters are so ardently anti-Hillary Clinton might be because of her refusal to strongly oppose the corrupt campaign finance system Bernie rages against. ... Asking the supporters of the anti-Wall Street candidate who rejects Super PACs to suddenly back a pro-Wall Street candidate who embraces the Super PAC system would be asking them to betray their core values.The kicker:
This is likely why a full third of Bernie Sanders’ supporters refuse to back Clinton if she’s the nominee.We noted roughly the same data here, that at least 30% of Sanders voters wouldn't pull the lever for Clinton — and a not-negligible 9% would even vote for Trump. I'm not judging whether that's a wrong or right thing to do; I'm saying it's what seems likely to occur.
His bottom line, as I quoted in the headline: "The Democratic Party is in for a shellacking if they end up nominating Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders has proven himself to be the one candidate capable of uniting the Democratic Party in his ability to bring in fresh faces".
Does the Clinton Camp Understand This?
Does the Clinton camp know this? Does the Democratic Party? Indications are that they do.
First, the Clinton campaign has been "leaking" to the New York Times that they think the general election will be very close (my write-up here). Second, the campaign, their surrogates (including covert surrogate Barack Obama), plus their covert operatives in the corporate media — all of these groups have been making concerted efforts to Get Sanders Out so that Clinton can pivot to fighting only Trump and get a leg up on the general election battle. Because they know it's going to be a battle.
I'm not sure, though, that they know that the odds are against them, perhaps strongly against them. Because if they do know this, isn't it party malpractice to nominate the weaker candidate?
Bernie Sanders has said he's taking the fight to the convention in part to make the case to the superdelegates, should he be not far behind, that he, not Clinton, is the more electable candidate. After all, that's the function of the superdelegates, right? To make sure the more electable candidate is the candidate, for the good of the party.
Sanders and Maddow on the superdelegates: "...and most importantly perhaps, being the candidate most likely to defeat Donald Trump..." (at 4:39)
Do we trust the Democrats to get out of their own way? Or alternatively, do we trust them to give up Wall Street bribes (sorry, voluntary million-dollar gifts and favors) and, for a change, run government to serve the actual people? Seems we're going to find out.
The way to make all of this moot, however, is to give the stronger candidate, almost certainly Sanders, the most delegates, something all of us can do now.
- Time to contribute?
- Time to phone-bank for Bernie?
- Time to make sure all of your friends come out to vote?