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.


Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

I know the feeling. More years than not, Illinois doesn't matter, and this year suddenly it did. This is an area where reform is needed, but I'm not quite sure how to do it. Some have suggested a national primary election day, meaning all states hold their primaries the same day, but that would tend to favour the biggest, most delegate-rich states and advertising in major markets. Most of the country, as in the November elections, might be ignored.

But clearly reform is desperately needed—that's one thing both Hillary's supporters and Bernie's supporters can agree on.

rogerogreen said...

Too bad. I had hoped that the voters in CA and NJ could have the rare feeling, as I did in NY, that their votes mattered. "why I'm annoyed is that she clinched it today. Tomorrow is the California Primary…and the first time in recent memory we were going to get to vote on primary candidates before one of them had the nomination sewn up. I voted under the impression that my vote mattered on this and now, apparently, it doesn't. It's often that way on Election Night too, as they announce the results across the country from east to west. It's either settled before they get to California or they just award its electoral votes to the Democrat before the counting starts" . http://www.newsfromme.com/2016/06/06/this-just-in-59/