While one primary’s developments depressed me, the other has given Junior Tuesday a bit of a silver lining. This morning, I said that last night could have put us on an in “irreversible trajectory” for both parties. On the Republican side, it set aright Trump’s listing campaign, probably permanently. For the Democrats, it showed that Bernie Sanders will not go quietly into the night.
Make no mistake, night is still the inevitable conclusion to even the brightest of days, but Bernie Sanders’s Michigan made sunset wait just a little bit longer. It not only showed a candidate that can play in more than just lily-white states like New Hampshire and Kansas, but that he might be a formidable opponent to Clinton across the working class Rust Belt, a region heavy in delegates.
We’ve seen considerable spin classes from both campaigns lately, and last night could have earned us each a Masters degree in it. Indeed, the results somehow bolstered both sides’ arguments. Indulge me a moment to channel them.
The Sanders Campaign
GAME-CHANGER! The whole world said we couldn’t win in Michigan, but we never lost faith. It’s a long campaign with lots of delegates ahead. Ignore any delegate standings that count superdelegates, which are totally pliable until the day of the election. The pledged delegate standings show a much closer race:
- Clinton 766
- Sanders 549
Sanders only trails by a couple hundred, and we still have 2,734 pledged delegates to go. With Michigan under his belt and plenty of liberal states remaining, this is FAR from over.
Also consider that Sanders (AKA the Jewish Jesus… wait, Jesus was Jewish… AKA THE MESSIAH HIMSELF!) has basically matched Clinton in total states:
Clinton has won 12 states to Sanders’s 9. Plus, Iowa and Massachusetts were basically ties, right? So it’s more like 11 to 10 — a toss up. Moreover, Clinton has done her best with African-American voters, but the states where they dominate the Democratic electorate — those down south — are almost done. Ahead of us are states much more open to Bernie Sanders as a candidate. She was hoping to knock him out by now, but he’s still on his feet, answering the bell.
Once he makes his comeback to take the pledged delegate lead, the superdelegates can reverse their position — just like some did in 2008 when Senator Obama took the lead from Clinton — and push him to a majority of delegates overall.
Michigan is a microcosm of this campaign. Clinton was up big, but Sanders shocked the world. Junior Tuesday is the momentum swing the Sanders Campaign needed. Next up: Ohio and Illinois. And then Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. In June, liberal California will decide it, and Bernie Sanders will become the nominee.
The Clinton Campaign
Whoooa, slow down there, crazypants. Talk about a selective omission of facts! Nowhere in that quixotic rant did it mention that, on Junior Tuesday, the day Sanders supposedly won, Hillary Clinton won more delegates than Bernie Sanders. You know who else voted last night? Mississippi! Sure, Sanders is on pace to net about ten more Michigan delegates than Clinton (70ish to 60ish), but Mississippi voted about 83 percent for Clinton, netting her, so far, 29 delegates to Sanders’s 4. Four!
You want to take Iowa and Massachusetts away because they were basically a tie? Sanders only finished with 49.8 percent of the vote in Michigan, Clinton 1.5 percent behind. (By comparison, Clinton won Massachusetts with 50.1 percent and a 1.4 margin over Sanders.) Remove those two states from Clinton’s win column and all of a sudden you nullify your big Junior Tuesday prize.
No, once again, it’s Clinton who came away with more delegates — as she usually does. On an evening where the media wanted to convince you we have a more competitive race worthy of our clicks and viewership, her lead grew.
Even if we did leave aside the one-sided superdelegate count that combines with the pledged delegate count to give her a massive 1,238 to 572 lead, which is far, far greater than either Obama or Clinton had eight years ago (Obama won by 300), her pledged delegate lead is practically insurmountable. If we use the same numbers the Sanders supporters used — Clinton 766, Sanders 549 — that means she has won 58 percent of pledged delegates so far.
Sanders supporters would have you believe he is winning over the people and it’s only the establishment and media keeping Clinton afloat. However, not only has she won 58 percent of delegates, but she’s won about 58 percent of the popular vote as well. She’s racked up over 5 million votes so far to Sanders’s 3.4 million. Between the votes cast between one of the two, she’s won six in ten.
As for media, it’s in their interest to keep this competitive. We’ve watched for months as polls that make Sanders look stronger receive more attention than the rest. Their use of superdelegates in their primary counts isn’t a reflection of their bias, it’s a reflection of reality. The race should look like it’s a steep uphill climb for Sanders, because that’s exactly what it is.
Ultimately, Sanders’s hole is deeper than it was before the night of the Michigan Primary. For the rest of the way, he has to win a clear majority of the vote and delegates, but Clinton is still up double-digits nationally. Looking ahead to the massive March 15 states, he’s down 30 in Florida, 30 in Illinois, 20 in Ohio, and 20 in North Carolina. You think Sanders is about to erode her 200-pledged delegate lead? Just wait a week. The lead will only grow.
So, please… pump the breaks on the Michigan Primary being the shape of things to come.
Presidential Politics for America… Campaign
As always, the truth is in between these biased, hopeful spins. Am I backing off my confidence in Clinton’s chance to be the nominee? Not at all. But Michigan showed it will last longer than I expected, and it will pull Clinton further left than she would have liked heading into the general election.
The polls for those big states are convincing, but the Michigan polls were pretty convincing, too. Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight pointed out that since the polls predicted a 20-point Clinton win, it was probably the biggest primary upset in over 30 years. He reminded us that not a single poll in the last month had her with anything less than a five-point lead. And then she lost anyway. Enten wonders if the pollsters are missing something, meaning her leads for the March 15 states are equally fragile.
It’s a possibility, but the polls have generally been accurate. I’ve predicted almost every state correctly on both sides by following polls. The polls across the primaries suggest the Michigan upset was more a fluke than a trend.
If he wins those states like he did Michigan, we indeed have a race on our hands, but that’s counting on 20- to 30-point reversals across four states in just one week. It’s just not realistic. Still, I fully expect him to narrow Clinton’s lead in all four states. Sanders closes really well across the board once his campaign turns its millions to focus on certain states.
The result will be a much longer primary than I expected. He might never cut into her lead. He might only be tilting at windmills. But at the very least, he’s holding off the coming night just a little while longer