In no way am I in a position to tell you “I told you so.” Let’s put aside my predictions for the Republican Primary, where last July I had Trump as the 11th most likely nominee and as late as the New Year he was still just third behind Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. My Democratic prognostication has only barely been better.
When Sanders declared his candidacy last April, my headline was, “Hillary Has Competition… Kind Of.” Wait, it gets better. In fact, I can run the entire two-paragraph column right here:
Hilariously claiming that he’s “running in this election to win,” Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. Today’s announcement outlined his quest to run as a populist. Then again, just as all Republicans will run as conservatives, all the Democrats will run as populists, including heavy favorite Hillary Clinton. That being said, he does rank more liberal than Clinton on 14 of 15 major issues, especially banking and foreign policy.
The good news for Clinton? He’s no threat, and her relative centrism compared to Sanders will make her look even better to independent voters come next November.
I dismissed him. I said it was hilarious that he thought he had a chance. I said Clinton would look better to independents, when the opposite has been true. I went on to rank Jim Webb as a more likely nominee than Sanders. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Frankly, it’s a small miracle you’re still reading what I have to say. My opinion is worthless. It is without worth.
That being said, over the last few months, when it was clear Joe Biden was not running and Sanders was Clinton’s only viable opponent, I have beat a steady drum, and it’s my only prediction that has remotely come to fruition. I expected him to do really well in Iowa and New Hampshire and get the media really excited that we could have a competitive race. I also saw Nevada as the turning point for the election, after which Clinton would pull away starting with South Carolina. I said that Sanders’s campaign would ultimately mirror Bill Bradley’s — a liberal star that keeps things interesting early against the establishment’s choice but ultimately gets blown out.
And while Senator Sanders, unlike Senator Bradley, will win a handful of states, Super Tuesday confirmed not only that we’re headed for a blowout, but that we’re already experiencing it.
The math is undeniable. Here are the updated Democratic Primary Standings. They disagree for many reasons (discussed here), but tell the same story.
- Clinton 1074 (606 pledged + 468 superdelegates)
- Sanders 426 (405 + 21)
- Clinton 1052 (595 + 457)
- Sanders 431 (405 + 22)
- Clinton 1062
- Sanders 431
Green Papers “Hard Count” (Doesn’t count superdelegates; doesn’t count the Iowa or Nevada caucuses, which did not have binding votes for president. These are only bound delegates.)
- Clinton 566
- Sanders 376
Although the Green Papers’ “hard count” doesn’t look as bad, we really can’t ignore the superdelegates, despite their oligarchic nature. Sanders trails Clinton by a lot. The voters’ wishes alone put him in about a 200-delegate hole; throw in the superdelegates and the gap is over 600. Of the remaining 3,200 delegates, Sanders would have to win 1,900 to Clinton’s 1,300, or about 60 percent. And since no states are winner-take-all (like the Republicans will start having on March 15), he’d have to do that through exclusively proportional allocations. (Delegate rules is one reason why Trump’s demise is much more likely than Clinton’s. The other reasons are A) the GOP’s larger field increases the chances of a brokered convention, and B) the fact that, you know, the party hates him.) Winning 60 percent of delegates in all remaining states, of course, is all but impossible, considering Clinton’s double-digit national lead. That means he’ll have to win some states by much wider margins in order to make up the deficit, and he’ll be climbing a mountain steeper than Everest to do it, as many voters will turn to whom they consider is the inevitable candidate. The math is the thing.
His campaign continues spin his success. They want it to be a game-changer that he beat Hillary Clinton in four states yesterday despite trailing her 60 points last April. However, it cannot be denied that his expectations were considerably raised before yesterday. In fact, I predicted he would win four states.
So it wasn’t huge news. It wasn’t a surprise. He didn’t shock the world. The last nine months have certainly been an impressive and unforeseen rise, but the expectations game has a much shorter memory. It still comes down to the stubborn process of arithmetic, and Sanders is now fading, not gaining.
Of course, if you find the right peyote to smoke, you could try making the case that if Sanders starts winning a majority of states and voters the rest of the way, the superdelegates will, as they’re perfectly allowed to do, switch sides to support Sanders by the convention. That being the case, all he has to do is just starting beating her, and then the oscillating supers will reduce her total and increase his, closing the gap twice as fast. It’s technically conceivable if you want a reason to live, but don’t hold your breath unless you’re looking for a way to not.
Here are the upcoming states through Tuesday of next week. Upcoming Democratic Primary Schedule, with pledged delegates. These takes us through this Tuesday.
|March 5, 2016||Louisiana||51|
|March 5, 2016||Nebraska||25|
|March 5, 2016||Kansas||33|
|March 6, 2016||Maine||25|
|March 8, 2016||Mississippi||36|
|March 8, 2016||Michigan||130|
Hello Michigan! We’re already past “must win” states for Sanders, but let’s go ahead and call Michigan another one. He’ll lose Louisiana and Mississippi going away, but he has a good chance in Maine and a puncher’s in super white Kansas and Nebraska. If he wins Michigan, he might be able to negate Clinton’s margins in the others states over this stretch. But alas, we just received a poll today out of Michigan; Clinton is up 28 points.
Of course, even if he did break even, that won’t get it done. It would just mean his deficit stays the same with even fewer delegates remaining, of which he must win an even higher percentage. It’s one of many reasons why, despite his admirable campaign that has overcome numerous hurdles and my pathetic earliest predictions, there’s a Nevada-sized fork sticking out of Bernie Sanders’s back.