Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Has Hillary just won the nomination?

Today the Associated Press caused a stir when they reported, “Clinton has delegates to win Democratic nomination”. Were they right, or did they jump the gun? No.

Hillary now has the support of 2383 delegates, both elected and superdelagates; 2382 are needed to win the Democratic Nomination. Bernie Sanders has a total of 1569 delegates, again, including both elected and superdelegates. In that sense, AP was just stating a fact, something that NBC News later echoed.

Bernie’s campaign, understandably, doesn’t like this. A spokesman said, “It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgement, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer.”

This same line has been picked up by Bernie’s supporters, but there’s a problem with it: NO delegate votes before the convention, but most of them are nevertheless pledged to vote for a candidate. It’s a little silly to argue that the pledge of one delegate matters, but the pledge of another doesn’t.

However, as Vox put it, “Clinton is almost certainly going to win with the pledged delegate count anyway, so why does it matter if she's declared the victor now with the superdelegates who support her or later?” The reality is that Hillary will be adding to her delegate total over the next two weeks, and very likely will, as Vox suggests, have more than 2382 elected delegates (Related: "In '08, Sanders Endorsed Obama - Before Clinton Formally Exited Race").

So, behind in the number of pledged delegates, Bernie’s hope is that he can peel off some of Hillary’s superdelegates—but, historically, that seems unlikely. In fact, AP has been polling superdelegates for months and they’re not budging (and only about 95 are uncommitted).

For Bernie’s strategy to work, it would mean asking superdelegates to ignore the fact that Hillary has received 3 million more votes than Bernie has. That’s a big ask of Democratic party leaders and elected officials who make up the majority of superdelegates.

Bernie also won’t convince them by touting polls showing he’d supposedly do better than Hillary against Donald. That ignores the fact all the national polls have Hillary beating Donald. Worse, it ignores the fact that Bernie hasn’t yet been victimised by the Republican Attack Machine as Hillary has been for decades. Were Bernie to become the nominee, all that would change and his poll rating would plummet so that, in the end, he’d be in no better a position than Hillary—maybe even worse, because everyone’s heard all the Republican talking points about Hillary, but they haven’t heard the lies, smears, and innuendo that Republicans would use against Bernie.

But Bernie’s supporters are also hoping for a massive landslide tomorrow—forgetting (or perhaps unaware) that delegates are awarded proportionally, not “winner takes all”. In the race so far, even in the states Bernie has won Hillary has also won delegates—often nearly as many as he has. This will happen tomorrow, too, no matter how well he does. At no point in the entire campaign did Bernie ever win by a wide enough margin to track toward winning the nomination, and he won’t tomorrow. That’s just arithmetic.

So, having crossed the line, Hillary Clinton is now clearly the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. The results tomorrow will expand her delegate lead, not swing them the other way; at best, saying otherwise is wishful thinking.

One thing’s certain, though: The general election campaign will be ugly, precisely because Donald is the Republican nominee. To beat him, Democrats will have to find a way to re-unite, and that’s the main task facing the party now. There’s too much riding on this election to fail.

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