Monday, April 25, 2016

A Look Ahead: Coming to the Philadelphia Crossroad


Senator Sanders telling Andrea Mitchell he will campaign until the last primary vote is counted; also, that's it's on Clinton to convince his supporters she's offering policies they can vote for.

by Gaius Publius

Earlier I said I wanted to take a "look ahead" at what's likely to occur in the next few months and also in the next few years, since we're clearly at a major crossroads in the nation's (and the world's) future. In particular:
I want to start taking a look ahead, not in a long essay but in chunks. "Ahead" means what happens at the Democratic convention, what those outcomes may be, what happens in the general election, and furthest out of all, what happens in 2017 and beyond. So this will be a series of sorts.
The first piece looked at this core point and its corollary:

1. If Clinton is the nominee, she must win Sanders supporters or risk losing to the Republican, whoever that is.

1a. "Independents" aren't "moderate Republicans." Independents are pretty radical these days.

In my view and the view of many, Clinton's success in the general election depends on appealing to the voters she's currently disrespecting — Sanders supporters, first-time younger voters (those who only want "free this and free that" and don't do their own research), and non-party-affiliated independents (the ones who can't vote for Sanders because they are locked out of closed primaries like New York's).

The corollary (point 1a) describes today's independent voter, not as some imagined between-the-parties "Reagan Democrat," but as modern radical independents, people in both parties who (1) reject the bipartisan money-washed system, and (2) are suffering personally because of it. Modern independents now comprise 42% of the country.

Frankly, the future of the country, at least until the climate overtakes us, hinges on the two points above. It seems clear that the national rebellion against big-money rule by both parties, which is well underway, will either find an electoral expression (Sanders or initially, Trump) or will fail in its attempt to find an electoral solution. (Trump will eventually fail to satisfy this revolt, as discussed briefly here and in this Michael Parenti comment: "Fascism is a false revolution. It makes a revolutionary appeal without making an actual revolution. It propagates the widely proclaimed New Order while serving the same old moneyed interests." But that discussion is for later.)

As I see it, in all cases but a Sanders nomination, the next phase of the revolt will occur outside the electoral process and outside the rules of Establishment authority. This doesn't necessarily mean pitchforks and torches. It can range from something as mild (but effective) as Occupy and Nuit Debout ("up all night" protests) in France, to angry, active Ferguson-style street events.

One of the Nuit Debout protests at Place de la République in Paris (source; click to enlarge)

Consider, for example, a national student debt strike as a non-violent, anti-Establishment rebellion. At some point, people who see themselves as having "no economic future" and "zero hope of working in my profession" (as one early-30s woman, in tears, described herself to me at Netroots Nation) will rise up and just refuse to pay. This is a direct assault on the bankers who hold her debt and who have paid Congress to make sure her debt is not dischargeable in a bankruptcy.

Refusing to pay is an act of rebellion. Refusing to pay en masse is rebellion with teeth, just like the Bernie rebellion, except outside the electoral process. It will force a response, likely an angry state-sponsored one.

As I've been writing almost from the start of doing this work, the whole game since the 1980s was to deprive the nation's workers of good jobs; load the country with debt — so people could chase the "lifestyles of the rich and famous" with credit cards and mortgage-backed loans instead of real income — then make the government make sure no debt is forgiven.

That's the whole game in a nutshell. A debt strike is an assault on that game, just as the Sanders candidacy is an assault on it. Neither assault can be allowed by the money-serving Establishment, but one form of assault is infinitely preferable to the other. Most sensible people do and will prefer electoral solutions.

My point again — if Sanders is not nominated, there will be no electoral solution (unless Clinton reverses a lifetime of pro-money policies), and the conflict will move into the next, non-electoral arena.

Three Visible, Simultaneous Contests, Not Just One, in the Democratic Primary

Let's look at the time period between now, roughly midway through the primary season, and the July Democratic convention in Philadelphia. To continue our enumerated points:

2. There are three simultaneous races in the 2016 Democratic primary: the race for money; the race for popular support (and the appearance of popular support); and the race for pledged delegates.

Sanders is winning the first race by a large margin, is tied or leading in the second, and is rising from behind in the third. The Democratic contest isn't just about pledged delegates. It's also about the optics of the Democratic nomination as seen by national voters, a nomination that will culminate in the convention in Philadelphia. The nominee coming out of that convention will be judged by voters of the nation, all of them, in terms of those optics.

Here's what that means. Assume the leaders of the Democratic Party want to win in November — not a safe assumption, but let's assume it anyway, since the country is both making that assumption and being led to make it by the press. (I personally think most Party leaders want Clinton nominated anyway, regardless of how they get her there. But I'm not the usual, casual, semi-paying-attention contest-watcher.)

Now consider the three races going on in the Democratic primary contest:
  • The race for money, both overall campaign dollars and small-donor funding, which indicates popularity
  • The race for popular support as expressed by national polls and crowd size
  • The race for "pledged delegates"
How are those races going?

Sanders Winning the Race for Funding

Bernie Sanders is winning the first race hands down, and it's being noticed. The following compares Sanders' and Clinton's fundraising through the end of March (my yellow highlight) as released by the campaigns in early April (current March numbers from FEC filings are very slightly different). This does not include super PAC money, just contributions to the campaigns themselves.

Sanders has actually outraised Clinton in total "hard money" at this point, $182 million to $180 million, as this All In with Chris Hayes segment explains (h/t GottaLaff for the clip):

Notice Nick Confessore's comment about Clinton having to find new donors since so many of her current donors are maxed out, i.e., have contributed all the "hard money" to her allowed by law.

It's not just important that Sanders is winning the money race. It's important that this is being noticed by the press and the public.

Sanders Tied and Rising in the Race for Popular Support

The race for popular support — and the appearance of popular support — is taking place on two main fronts, the national polls and the constant mention of crowd sizes. Let's stick to national polls, both now and in the future. First, current polling.

If you look at the national Clinton vs. Sanders national polling at an aggregator site like Huff Post or Real Clear Politics, you see a dramatic narrowing to a statistical tie, with Sanders starting to lead in a few. And this is only April in a race that ends in June — the start of the third quarter, in other words. For example, the following shows Sanders slightly ahead of Clinton in the Reuters five-day tracking poll through the third week of April and just after the New York primary:

Note the change in momentum above. Imagine that momentum continuing until Sanders is solidly in the lead in all polls and still rising. Now imagine that change in momentum occurring while he's also behind in the delegate count, but rising...

Sanders Behind But Rising in the Race for Pledged Delegates

As predicted, Sanders lost badly in the Deep South (front-loaded races in which he had little name recognition, in states which no Democrat will carry in November). Then he reversed the Clinton lead and has been steadily climbing back, visible evidence of momentum.

Here's a chart of the pledged delegate differential prior to the mid-Atlantic series of primaries:

I haven't included contests later than April 9 because of the lawsuits and investigations that challenge the New York election results. Initial New York results shows Sanders giving back 31 delegates of the 100 delegates he had regained since the Deep South voted. But if the New York city election challenges prevail (and they are serious), that result will change the rest of the graph, perhaps dramatically. His initial post-New York delegate loss could easily be revised in his favor, changing the rest of the chart. (Click here for a county-by-county map of the Democratic primary results in New York.)

Democrats at the Philadelphia Crossroads

Regardless of the result, however they may be revised, of the troubled mid-Atlantic elections, each of the following statements is true:
  • As predicted, March 15 will remain the date of Sanders' lowest differential.
  • Sanders has a path to adding as many as 100 delegates to his differential total prior to June 7, when California (475 delegates) and five other states vote.
  • He has a clear, though narrow, path to surpassing Clinton in the final delegate count...
  • ... or to coming less than 50 delegates short after the last primary vote is cast.
Can you see what that means coming into the convention? Imagine that Sanders continues to win the money race, lead in the national polls by, say, 10 points or more, and has another big delegate surge in the fourth quarter of the delegate race, the post-East Coast phase. Now add in that Sanders beats all Republicans by more than Clinton, and that Clinton even loses to some of them. (A recent poll, in fact, has her in a statistical tie with Trump, up only 3 points and within the margin of error, while Sanders trounces Trump by 10 points.)

This isn't about what Sanders will do coming into the convention. Sanders doesn't have to do anything but show up and let the process play out. The pressure, if there is any, will come from the voters. The whole nation will be watching, will see all of this. What will the Democrats do with all eyes on them? And how will the nation respond if they stick with an underwater but pre-ordained "inevitable" pick anyway?

This leads to our third principle:

3. Democrats may not be able to win in November if they appear to force the least desirable candidate on the public.

Remember the first two principles above. Clinton can't win the general election without independents, the "radical independents" who support Sanders and Trump. She can certainly wrap up the nomination (or not), but if she does, she will have done it with a jiggered, Debbie Wasserman Schultzed process; by winning states no Democrat will win in November; by winning mainly in contests in which only Democrats could vote.

Note the word "appear" in the bolded statement above. This is not about the rightness or wrongness of what the Democrats do on arrival in Philadelphia. It's about how what they do will look to people who will vote in November.

This could all be a problem — for Democrats, not for Sanders. What's a "hardwired for Clinton" political party to do? Stay tuned. Philadelphia may be the site of the most important crossroad in post-FDR American history.

(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If he's also your candidate, he needs your support now as the contest leaves the third quarter and enters its final phase. Consider contributing now; and thanks.)


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At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The candidate with the most pledged delegates wins. Nothing else matters. It has worked that way always. That is how President Obama won. He had the most pledged delegates.

At 2:28 PM, Blogger cybermome said...

I'm in Montgomery county PA Its Clinton World here. The altercation between B Clinton and the #BLM Woman took place 5 minutes from here. I don't believe the Corporate Dems understand that among Independents she isn't trusted They can remake her all they want but she's done very little except piss off the independents

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Dessa Brewington said...

Obviously the most pledged delegates wins. The question is what follows from that. Winning the most pledged delegates doesn't necessarily make you more appealing to voters in the general. If the less popular candidate wins the pledged delegate count and the nom, and if they win by means seen as illegitimate, that will hurt Dem chances in November.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pledged delegates? Keep in mind that the "supers" are BOUGHT and PAID FOR, not pledged per se. They exist because they will heel to the money's desires... if they were independent, they would be replaced by reliably bought shills. period.

At this point, it seems this is all rationalization. Bernie is not going to get more ELECTED delegates so his pleas, rationalization about electability and all, will fall on the deaf/bribed ears of the $upers.

The only interesting thing to look for is whether Bernie will endorse $hillbillary knowing, as we all do, that she is going to be worse than obamanation and bill were and as bad as cheney and junior bush if not worse.

Will herr drumpf endorse his usurper? who cares. The rich will not endorse $hillbillary out of fear of revolt and those who operate on hate/fear/greed will always vote for the R no matter who it is (could be hitler for all they care).

Speculating on whether lefty voters will end up holding their lunches down while voting for $hillbillary is pointless. History shows that the usual number of leftys will still do so while the usual number will stay away.

And history shows that millions will be disenfranchised illegally and millions of votes will be uncounted or flipped so that the desired result will be instated. And nothing will be done or said... again... still...

So you see, the money will get a satisfactory result either way. If a lot of us, as I will, vote Green, it won't matter very much. The money will get what they want.

And then there's the whole thing about congress being wholly corrupt... and the judiciary (note the recent federal bench decision about voter suppression via voter-id law -- remember that 100-yo lady who danced with obamanation? she can't get voter-id cuz she ain't got no birth cert... and her hero won't do flop for her).

And never forget that voters are either extremely evil (everyone voting R) or organically stupid (anyone voting for $hillbillary), and they outnumber everyone who would actually like to fix things... evidently.

All this rationalization and speculating is just pointless intellectual fantasizing.

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

coupla things:

This "Clinton loses the general vs. Bernie wins it" thing... how is that polled and analyzed?

Primaries are a fraud, granted, due to some being caucuses (which suppress turnout) and some being closed (which means independents have no voice). But the general is a fraud for different reasons, namely the electoral college.

In order to predict the winner of the general, you'd need to poll ACTUAL voters (who are dedicated to voting) state-by-state and extrapolate from that the elector counts.

Simply polling "likely" voters (at this point I am a likely voter for Bernie, but if $hillbillary is the nom, I will morph into a Green voter) doesn't do it.

If you think the "challenges" to the primaries in NY, AZ et al are going to be useful, you haven't been paying attention for the past 16 years. Elections in this crapfest of a country have been inherently fraudulent each time... and each time nobody does anything (AT ALL!!) about it. Each time the method(s) change and/or are augmented for greater effect... and each time... crickets. You think the fascist judiciary won't wipe their butts with it again?

And I similarly scoff at your suggestion that americans have the chops to collectively conduct a debt strike... or ANY sort of strike. Ferkrissakes, Occupy fizzled almost as soon as it started. All the money had to do was get some cops to beat a few wage slaves just a little; infiltrate it a little; and it goes poof. 10 M homes and 15M jobs were lost so that 500 gazillionaires could keep raking their loot... and americans lost interest in a few days (to be fair, in some places it took a couple of weeks). Even the BLM thing fizzled to vapor... and folks was KILLED... ON VIDEO!!!

For americans to care enough to do a national strike, even for one day, it would take another 1929 times 10... and video of lots of white kids being slaughtered... more than Sandy Hook, cuz... that REALLY happened and the only result was the LOOSENING of gun laws.

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Ummm re; student loan revolt, not paying them. Don't even think about it. IRS will garnish your wages to pay student loans. Thanks to Sandra Day O'Conner,even if you live on a disability check, it also will be garnished to pay off student loans.

At 9:52 PM, Anonymous MojaveWolf said...

I tried to leave this in a thread regarding the same post at NC in reply to someone who said Bernie voters would be "blamed" if HRC got the nom & Trump won in NOv. It disappeared. So trying to post it here, since it's relevant not only to your post but to some of the "fall in line" comments that keep showing up here & elsewhere:

Ummm, I am one of MANY Bernie supporters who would not see this as fault. We would be more likely to stand up & take CREDIT. (not that I plan to vote for Trump, who I think is horrid; the only possible way would be if I actually thought Cali was going to be close & possibly determinative; then I'd consider it)

Give us someone worth voting for, & we'll vote for them.

Win only by blatant and massive cheating, go down.

Also, get rid of someone worth voting for in favor of someone NOT worth voting for by blatant & massive cheating, and watch us work to defeat not only that person but everyone who endorsed them (realizing this will be impractical in many instances, but hardly all).

FWIW, I did not support HRC before this election but neither did I hate her. Part of the change has been learning more, part of it is that she seems to have changed very much for the worse over the last 8 years, and part is the tactics used by her, the DNC & the MSM. I can't punish the MSM for its behavior, but I can the other two. How is there not a bigger furor over the voting machine audits, the statistical unlikelihood of the exit polls being off (yet MD was called purely by exit polls prior to a single vote being counted?) the insane # of people's registration being changed that seems to only happen to Bernie supporters (remember that shared DNC database?) etc. How does ANYONE back this & still claim to support democracy & oppose election fraud & voter suppression?

If HRC gets the nom & loses & the conservadems nationwide get wiped out, I'll happily take credit. We need a viable non-evil actually progressive alternative, imo, and if killing the D party is necessary to achieve that, I'm game. Beats the heck out of watching them mouth off about helping people & fighting climate change then doing the same stuff to screw the poor & working class and kill the planet as the R's do.

The rhetoric of the two parties is very different, but the actions haven't been. That needs to change.

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MojaveWolf, yours is an exceptional comment. Bravissimo.

My only divergence is that I truly loathe $hillbillary. Those 2 and their melanin enhanced shill have done more to destroy the New Deal and Great Society than any R could even dream of (as I watch, whenever the money really wants something horrible, they get it from someone with a "D" next to their name). And obamanation actually offered MORE destruction to our social safety net than speaker boner could even accept.

Yes. Let's just raze the D sect of the money to the ground. We can't build anything until it's gone.

At 1:18 PM, Anonymous MojaveWolf said...

@Anonymous -- Oh, we agree entirely. All of it. You just got to the loathing earlier. I was late to the game. Deeply, deeply regret not voting for Perot both times back in the 90's; Obama has been godawful, tho he is, alas, much better than Hillary at sleight of hand. That's part of why she has more trouble getting support--If you're not paying close attention to actions & patterns of behavior, Obama & Bill come off sincere when they say good things & people trip over themselves trying to make excuses for them when they do the opposite. Hillary it's more obvious these days where she really stands.

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@MojaveWolf -- good to know we're sympatico. FWIW, Perot was insane, truly, so it's good that he lost... and good (?) that he took more votes from the R side than the D side... well maybe. In hindsight, a second GHWB would have been better than the first Clinton. And it's entirely possible, though not likely that Dole could have been less horrible than the second Clinton. 2C is where we got welfare destruction, GLBA, CFMA et al that were the cornerstones of 2008. Bill was probably the worst D prez ever, if obamanation isn't the worst. In hindsight, I'd say that Clinton did far more (long-term) damage than cheney/bush or Nixon or harding-coolidge-hoover or... name anyone. And obamanation failed to reverse or even impede any of the ongoing badness from Clinton and cheney/bush. Weakest D prez ever (presuming he actually believes anything to the left of Reagan, which is unsupportable with deeds at this point).


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