Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New York Post-Mortem: Four More Years of the Same

Any hope that Bernie might knock off Hillary ended yesterday in New York. Sanders got shellacked by more than a quarter-of-a-million votes in the state's Democratic primary, losing to Clinton by 15 points, 42.1% to 57.9%.

A good explanation, probably the briefest and best I have read, of Hillary's victory formula is Nate Cohn's "Realistically, Bernie Sanders Cannot Afford Losses." The best predictor, Cohn argues, of Clinton voting strength is an affluent state that also has a sizable black population.
To the extent that Mr. Sanders’s supporters envisioned a path to a majority of delegates, it hinged on the assumption that he would prove strongest in the most heavily Democratic states, like New York and California.
The assumption was not consistent with the results leading to today. Mr. Sanders lost the states most similar to New York or California, like Illinois and Florida, even Massachusetts. In truth, there has been no relationship between Mr. Sanders’s strength and the Democratic leanings of a county. The stronger predictors of Mrs. Clinton’s strength were diversity and affluence — which augured well for her in New York.
In the end, Mrs. Clinton won New York thanks to big support from nonwhite and affluent voters in New York City and its suburbs.
She swept the Upper West Side, Chelsea, Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope. These places voted strongly for past liberal challengers, like Zephyr Teachout in the 2014 primary for governor, but not for Mr. Sanders.
She also swept majority black and Hispanic precincts, as she has for most of the cycle.
And she fared well in the suburbs, winning by nearly a two-to-one margin in Westchester County, where she lives.
Mrs. Clinton’s affluent and diverse coalition sets her up for a string of wins next Tuesday along the Eastern Seaboard, and later in New Jersey. After next Tuesday, Mr. Sanders could need 63 or 64 percent of the remaining delegates.
He will be hard pressed to make up this deficit. He has thrived in caucus states, but there is only one of those left: North Dakota. Mr. Sanders could win 64 percent of the vote in a couple of mostly white Western primaries, like Oregon or Montana. But he’s unlikely to win by much more. He could win in Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia, but is not likely to do so by 64 percent.
Mr. Sanders could be competitive in California, where there are fewer black voters. But the affluence of the Bay Area and Los Angeles will hurt him there, just as it did in New York City’s liberal bastions. It is hard to imagine a two-to-one victory.
It is more likely that Mr. Sanders has reached the stage of the campaign where even feel-good victories — like repeats of his genuinely impressive win in Michigan — will leave him too far behind.
The reaction to this coalition of Park Avenue and Harlem (both Spanish and Abyssinian), interestingly, is the rock on which Kevin Phillips built his "Emerging Republican Majority" nearly half-a-century ago. Because of an abiding negrophobia and resentment of the rich, Phillips predicted that the white working class would abandon the Democratic Party, something which has certainly come to pass.

With Sanders now set to shuffle out the remainder of the primary as an ever-diminishing factor, a remaining hope we can harbor is for a destructive fight at the Republican National Convention. But this hope will be forlorn if Trump is able to replicate his Empire State performance in Pennsylvania and California since he will then likely have the requisite number of delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot. (Nate Cohn has been talking up the importance of Indiana for Trump, "The Most Important Primary Is ... Wait, Indiana?")

In any event, the general election is shaping up to answer decisively the question, "Can old, white America triumph one last time in the form of Donald Trump?"

No, it can't. Last month proved that Trump's negatives can be driven so high that he is unelectable. Hillary will win the West Coast and East Coast. It won't be easy for her because she is a horrible candidate, but even with low turnout, affluent, educated whites voting in concert with blacks and Latinos will be too much for Trump.

So it looks like four more years of the same -- never-ending wars in the Greater Middle East; catastrophic events caused by human-induced climate change; skyrocketing inequality; et cetera. It is not sustainable. Human institutions are already breaking down.

Maybe direct action nonviolent protest will pick up now that the Bernie opiate is wearing off.

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