Monday, February 29, 2016

Super Tuesday

It was a depressing weekend. The Clinton margin of victory among blacks in South Carolina, even greater than what she racked up in Nevada, is a death knell for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, as Nate Cohn explains in "Hillary Clinton’s Winning Numbers in South Carolina Suggest Sweep in South":
[Hillary] has won South Carolina in a rout, 73.5 percent to 26 percent, exceeding Mr. Obama’s own 29-point victory in 2008. She did it the same way that Mr. Obama did: with overwhelming support from black voters, who favored Mrs. Clinton over Bernie Sanders by a stunning margin of 87 to 13, according to updated exit polls — a tally that would be larger than Mr. Obama’s victory among black voters eight years earlier. Black voters represented 62 percent of the electorate, according to exit polls, even higher than in 2008.
The result positions Mrs. Clinton for a sweep of the South in a few days on Super Tuesday and puts the burden on Mr. Sanders to post decisive victories elsewhere. If he does not — and the polls, at least so far, are not encouraging — Mrs. Clinton seems likely to amass a significant and possibly irreversible lead.
For Mrs. Clinton, the path to the presidential nomination is straightforward: fight Mr. Sanders to a draw among the nonblack voters who dominate the party’s contests in many Northern and Western states, and win by huge margins among black voters, who represent about a quarter of Democratic voters nationally. They represent the majority of Democrats in the South, which will play a crucial role on Super Tuesday.
The results in South Carolina — as well as in Nevada, where Mrs. Clinton also won black voters by a wide margin — suggest that she can count on big wins in six Super Tuesday states where black voters represent an above-average share of Democratic voters: Alabama, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia. The polls say the same thing.
As a result, the Sanders campaign has effectively conceded the South on Super Tuesday. The campaign is not airing advertisements there, according to NBC News data. It’s instead concentrating resources in five states with far fewer black voters and far fewer delegates: Oklahoma, Minnesota, Colorado, Massachusetts and Vermont. It is a strategy that aims to maximize Mr. Sanders’s chance of winning states, but it doesn’t necessarily prevent Mrs. Clinton from running up huge delegate leads from the South.
The likelihood of a Clinton landslide in the delegate-rich South means that Mr. Sanders can’t compensate with a few narrow, feel-good wins outside the South. The thing to watch on Tuesday night is whether Mr. Sanders can win by big — even double-digit — margins in states like Minnesota or Massachusetts. The margins matter, because delegates are awarded proportionally in the Democratic nomination contest.
Even this might not be enough in a place like Minnesota or Massachusetts, depending on whether one assumes that Mr. Sanders has an advantage in caucus states like Minnesota or a state bordering Vermont like Massachusetts. If Mrs. Clinton has an advantage among Hispanic voters, in addition to black voters, then the burden on Mr. Sanders would grow even more to dominate with white voters in states like Massachusetts or Minnesota.
The polling, at least for now, says Mr. Sanders is not positioned to win by these sorts of margins. He’s in a tight race in Massachusetts. He’s in a tight race in Oklahoma, a state with a below-average black population and a large number of working-class Democrats. There is not much polling in Colorado or Minnesota, but there isn’t much evidence of a blowout there or in neighboring Wisconsin.
I think Cohn's analysis is on the money. Hillary has proven herself Obama's equal in winning a huge percentage of the black vote. And while it is true that Bernie wins a majority of white voters, though apparently not in South Carolina, it is more a split than a landslide. Absent a bombshell like an indictment, Hillary's path to the nomination seems safe.

Hence, the low feeling this weekend. Particularly after reading the massive two-parter by Jo Becker and Scott Shane (The Libya Gamble: "Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall" and "A New Libya, With 'Very Little Time Left' ") about the disastrous Hillary-backed coup of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi. Hillary's fingerprints are all over the destruction of North Africa, the Middle East and now Europe.

The good news though is she going to have great difficulty winning a general election against Trump. Cohn is too busy lining out the limitations of Bernie's campaign to note the weakness of Hillary's. For starters, Democratic turnout has been less than the GOP so far. Trump broke records for turnout in South Carolina and Nevada. This has to be very troubling for Team Clinton. For the winning formula of the Obama coalition to work, Hillary will need not only the constituency groups -- blacks, Latinos, youth -- but she will need juiced turnout by those constituents. Hillary has the blacks, but so far she does not have young people and there is no evidence that she is winning the Latino vote by a significant margin. Most importantly, Hillary is not inspiring new voters to come to the polls the way Trump is. Read Matt Taibbi's excellent "How America Made Donald Trump Unstoppable" and ask yourself, "How does Trump lose any of the big swing states to Hillary?"

One possible answer is found in "Inside the Republican Party’s Desperate Mission to Stop Donald Trump" by Alexander Burns, Maggie Haberman and Johnathan Martin. The GOP will campaign against Trump in the general:
While still hopeful that Mr. Rubio might prevail, Mr. McConnell has begun preparing senators for the prospect of a Trump nomination, assuring them that, if it threatened to harm them in the general election, they could run negative ads about Mr. Trump to create space between him and Republican senators seeking re-election. Mr. McConnell has raised the possibility of treating Mr. Trump’s loss as a given and describing a Republican Senate to voters as a necessary check on a President Hillary Clinton, according to senators at the lunches.
He has reminded colleagues of his own 1996 re-election campaign, when he won comfortably amid President Bill Clinton’s easy re-election. Of Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell has said, “We’ll drop him like a hot rock,” according to his colleagues.
The article also limns Republican plans to steal the nomination from Trump at the convention.

Maybe the GOP will incinerate itself. We can only hope. One thing is for sure: If Hillary does as well tomorrow as is generally predicted, Bloomberg will not run. The elites will all line up with Hillary, and it will be Hillary vs. the world.


  1. Yes, Hillary will probably win. I don't see Sanders folding easily though. He will do much better in the north and west, maybe enough to make it close.

    And that's Sanders' game. He's trying to free democracy in the US from the big money. If he doesn't win this year, he's paving the way for the next progressive. I would also note that the DNC can't generate voter turnout (in large part because of their continuing roster of DINO candidates losing in Congress). Do not be surprised if the abandoned left tries going around the Dems. There really is no guarantee that Clinton can win in November, even against the awful Trump. If she does, she will have to collaborate with a Republican Congress. That could very well mean four and out. Which leaves all the Dems left out this year to work for an alternative (Warren et al), either within or outside the party structure. And with Wasserman in the driver's seat the party structure, while good at collecting money, keeps diminishing the party nationwide. And the precarious position of the Republicans just encourages the left.

    That is, it may be over, but it's still a long way from ending. Enjoy it.

  2. I think this paradigm we've been living in since Reagan, Bob, is all but bust. Did you see that Obama quote about Bernie in the run up to New Hampshire? He compared the Sanders campaign to a new bright shiny toy. Obama said that he understood why people felt constrained by the political parameters Reagan established over three decades ago but, hey, those are the rules of the game -- so deal with it. Or something to that effect. Well, I honestly don't believe the status quo is going to last much longer. Did you see that Pepe Escobar article, "The New Silk Road and the Rise of the 'Chinese Dream' "? He quoted some top Chinese general saying that the U.S. can't confront the Chinese militarily for at least another ten years because of some sort of anti-carrier tactical advantage the Chinese have, and that in ten years the Chinese think the U.S. will collapse anyway. I think the Chinese are onto something. So yes absolutely I am going to be all eyes and ears this year and I am going to enjoy the spectacle. I'll caucus for Bernie at the end of March. He still has a lot of game left. Trump is unbowed. And I think the GOP might be stupid enough to try to steal the nomination from him. That's when the pyrotechnics will really get going good.