Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What Now For Bernie?



Bernie Sanders has won.

No, not the election last night, not even if you include Rhode Island. And no, not the Democratic Party nomination. There’s no realistic chance of him ever winning that (as you’ll see by my number crunching in a moment). No, he’s won a movement. He’s won a constituency. He’s won a large block of the progressive base, and he will never lose it.

Now the question is, what does he do with it?

First, let’s all face a hard reality check. Bernie can’t win the Democratic nomination. That ship has not only sailed, but has been set on fire like the Viking funerals of old. How dead is his candidacy? Let’s look at the hard numbers:

Bernie has, according to CNN, 1359 pledge delegates. Excluding all remaining super delegates, there are 1021 delegates remaining. Add those two together and you get 2380. It takes 2383 to win the nomination outright. Bernie is three short! In other words, Bernie Sanders is mathematically locked out from being able to win the nomination outright! Even if he won 100% of everything left, he would not win!

It gets worse. Hillary’s lead over Bernie in pledge delegates has ballooned up to 307. To catch up to that number, Bernie now needs to win 65.03% of all remaining pledge delegates. Essentially, he needs to win 2/3rds of everything left, just to have a remote chance – and that only leads to a contested convention.

Hillary’s grand total of delegates now, super delegates included, is 2168. She needs 2383. That means she only needs 216 more delegates. That’s tiny! It’s only 21.16% of the remaining 1021 pledge delegates remaining! If you include the remaining 175 super delegates which are still out there, she only needs to win 18.06% of them! She could get her ass completely and thoroughly kicked from here to the convention and still cruise to an easy  nomination victory!

Bernie would not only need to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, he would have to crawl past those jaws, down defeat’s esophagus and pull victory out from the gallbladder.

Now, the Bernie camp will be quick to point out that in order for Hillary to avoid a “contested convention” by winning enough pledge delegates to reach 2383 without any super delegates, she would need to win 70% of the remaining vote. (70.225%, by my calculation.) But if we are extra generous with Bernie, and speculate that Hillary wins only half of the pledge delegates that remain, she would only need 29% of the super delegates to finish Bernie off. Bernie would have to convert 71% of the pledge delegates into coming over to his side, and she already has 502 of them, and she already has 70% (69.82%) firmly committed to her! Plus, as we already know, that just won’t happen. The press will have looked at the numbers above and concluded the same thing. They will know that Bernie is done for, as will the electorate from here on out. People like to vote for a winner, and so Hillary is guaranteed a greater than 50% margin in the remaining states. Oregon may be a stubborn holdout. Maybe West Virginia will go for Bernie. But it won’t matter. Hillary could well have the nomination sewn up before California even votes on June 7th, and if that happens, Bernie’s percentages will go through the floor. Hillary will get her 70% of delegates, and then some. There will be no “contested convention,” and even if there were, Hillary would win that easily, too.
It’s over for Bernie. Anybody who says otherwise is delusional.

Okay, so Bernie’s birdie is now a lame duck. So what? What happens now?

There are really only two choices: Bernie could use his power to consolidate the Democratic party base. He could use his power to help his fellow liberals. He could, through endorsement and campaigning, win over a huge swath of House and Senate seats. He could actually bring about the “revolution” this way! Together, a Hillary and Bernie coalition would be an unstoppable force!

Or he could fracture the liberal base, be a sore loser, and disenfranchise an entire segment of the populace to the political process. He might even run as a third-party independent. After all, he’s done that before with tremendous success in Vermont. But in so doing, he could hand the presidency over to the fascist Trump. Even if he doesn’t break away, his rejection of Hillary could become a boon for the Green Party and possibly even the Libertarian Party, but most definitely it would be a gift to the Republican party, who could end up winning, even with a candidate who stinks on ice as badly as Donald Trump does.

Believe it or not, I’m actually encountering fellow liberals, some of whom I’ve known for years, actually advocating this! I think they may be unaware of the conservative Facebook ghosts masquerading as liberals on various feeds who are deliberately stoking the fires of hatred towards Hillary. But even if they are, they seem not to care. They would rather burn the house to the ground than see it go to another insider.

As if the word “insider” were somehow a guarantee such a person would not be a reformer.

The health of democracy is tied irrevocably to the health of democracy in the United States, and the economic health of the world is permanently tied to the dollar. If we advocate tearing it all down, we bring down democracy’s pinnacle, and the dollar with it. With the fall of the dollar would go the Yuen, the Yen, the Rubel and the Euro. We would literally take the entire world down with us. Some Bernie-backers are actually calling for this right now, determined to never let their “Bernie or bust” dream die. But all I can hear when I listen to such irrational rhetoric are the cries of the impoverished children in America who will know no real future because the republic decided to self-destruct instead of self-improve. I hear the shrieks of the starving third-world children who will die because American food aid dried up in the ensuing chaos. I see the cries of families in nations like Haiti and Mozambique who were actually beginning to turn things around thanks to foreign aid, and who will be able to do nothing except watch it all come crashing down around them because Europe and America will be unable to care for themselves, much less other nations. I see a resurgence of the Trump faction who will take advantage of the chaos to transform America into a Christianized version of the Taliban, where abortion is universally outlawed, and religious freedom taken away from Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans, Shintos, atheists and agnostics. I see this condition becoming permanent, as the age of super-surveillance transforms America into George Orwell’s 1984. And all the victims who are permanently trapped by this outcome will turn to our generation and ask, “Why!? Why, when you had the chance to unite, and win things for the good of all, did you not do so? Why did you let all humanity become enslaved?”

I want a better answer to give them than, “We didn’t want a political insider.”

Bernie lost the nomination. But he won his following. He is now a political movement. He may have lost the war, but now he has the power, and the responsibility, to win the peace. Now is the time to do so.

And if he doesn’t, we know the kind of man he truly is.


Eric

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Is Hillary Cheating?


I hear it from Facebook debaters all the time, insisting that Bernie's string of victories leading up to New York must have won him enough ground to catch up to Hillary, and because he didn't, that the system must somehow be rigged.

Well, in a nutshell, bullshit. Once again I've crunched the numbers, and put everything together in a neatly organized, easy-to-understand graph. Even the Republicans who are pretending to be Democrats bashing Hillary on Facebook will understand this one. Observe below:


These totals focus on pledge delegates, leaving out the super delegates altogether. Observe how Hillary's winning totals, shown in blue, are largest in the largest states, and how Bernie's wins, shown in green, tend to cluster around the smallest states. Pending elections are shown in grey. See it now? Bernie's greenest totals are in some pretty tiny states near the bottom of this rather top-heavy totem pole.

Bernie's recent winning streak consisted of Utah, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. As you can see, Wyoming, whown by the tiny space at the bottom, is hardly worth mentioning, as are Idaho, Hawaii and Alaska. Utah, is only slightly larger, and still not much of a mouthful. Only Washington and Wisconsin are noteworthy, and they are rather mediocre.

Now look at Hillary's wins. The real eye-poppers are Texas and Florida, which together comprise roughly 75% of her winning margin so far. See the difference?

So Hillary's commanding leads come from her winning strategy - she goes where the people are. Bernie, while winning lots of real estate, cannot win that way.

Because it's not how much land you conquer, it's how many people vote for you. One person, one vote, not one square mile, one vote.


Eric

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Can Hillary Avoid A Contested Democratic Convention?


Recently, a friend of mine posted this particular tidbit onto Facebook:


It's an interesting argument, and I called bullshit on it when I saw it, because I'd just recently run these numbers in a recent blog post, and knew first hand that this sort of argument was just silly. But it occurs to me that many Bernie supporters might be thinking this sort of thing, and so I've taken it upon myself to evaluate just how likely it is to be true. What did I find? Well, it's still silly, but not for the reasons you might expect. Read on and learn:

First, we need to see where this post got its numbers from. They are going on the number of delegates needed to win the nomination for the Democratic Party, which is 2,383. Next, they are assuming that if Hillary does not have enough pledge delegates to win the nomination without super delegate support, it will result in a contested convention. (That's not true, but we'll ignore it for now.) So one takes the number of pledge delegates Hillary needs to get to 2,383 (which is 1,079), divide that by the number of pledge delegates yet remaining (1,667), and you get 0.64727. Multiply that by 100%, and you get 64.727%, which rounds up to 65%. (All source numbers are from CNN.com.)

Okay, so that first number checks out. And we know from our previous calculations in earlier blog posts that Bernie does, in fact, need to win 57% of all remaining pledge delegates to catch up to Hillary's current lead. So the two main percentages quoted are spot on.

The problem is in how these numbers are structured.

Hillary currently has a lead over Bernie of 229 pledge delegates, which is why Bernie needs 57% of all the remaining ones just to catch up. By leaving out this one fact, it is easy to compare 65% to 57% and conclude that Bernie's hurdle is smaller, and therefore his path to the nomination is easier. But this is comparing apples to oranges. The numbers aren't being allowed to play fair.

To make an objective analysis, let's apply the same standard to Bernie that was applied to Hillary. We start with Bernie's current pledge delegate total, which is 1,075. Subtract that from the total he needs to win the nomination (2,383) and we get 1,308. (Again, figures from CNN.com.) Divide that by the number of pledge delegates remaining (1,667), and we get 0.784643, or 78% rounded.

So, to avoid a contested convention, Hillary needs 65%, while Bernie needs 78%.
Hillary's goal looks a lot more achievable.

So while Hillary might need something shy of 2/3rds of the vote, Bernie needs almost 80% to avoid a convention fight.
Not looking very promising when the evaluation playing field is leveled, is it?

But let's look at it from yet another standpoint. If Bernie needs 78% percent to win the nomination outright without any super delegates, then the converse also holds true. If he falls short of 78% going forward, he will be mathematically locked out from being able to obtain enough pledge delegates.

He will also be mathematically locked out from EVER catching up to Hillary.

How many delegates can he therefore afford to lose? Well, as we said, Bernie needs 1,308 to win. With only 1,667 remaining, that's only 359 delegates!

Meaning that Hillary only needs to win 359 more delegates, and Bernie can NEVER catch up in pledge delegates!

To put that in perspective, New York has 291 delegates. Maryland has 118. Pennsylvania has 210.

Yeah, it's that bad for Bernie!

"But wait!" you may say. "Isn't catching up to Hillary and winning the nomination the same calculation?" How mathematically adroit of you! But oddly enough, no! Because the percentage that Bernie needs to catch up to Hillary is a much smaller number IF neither of them reaches 2,383 delegates! Which is entirely possible, especially if Hillary needs 65% to avoid a convention fight. However, with Bernie mathematically locked out from being able to get enough pledge delegates, and with Hillary having all the momentum after New York, all the voters in future states, including California, will know it's already over. Bernie fans just won't be able to get excited enough to go out and vote for nothing more than a contested convention. It then becomes highly likely that Hillary runs the table, wins more than 65%, and secures the nomination outright.

At current polling numbers, Bernie will lose at least 411 delegates to Hillary by April 29th! He will lose at least 160 of the 291 available delegates in New York alone! Yes, he will win some as well, but when you need 78% just to win on pledge delegates, Even if we reverse the polling numbers to give Bernie a shockingly HUGE 60% majority upset win, Hillary will still take 116 delegates away from Bernie, taking him 1/3rd of the way towards being locked out in a single swoop! If we do the same thing to Pennsylvania, and again give Bernie an overwhelming 60% majority win upset (contrary to all the polling data yet again), Hillary will still be able to take another 88 votes away from him. Give Bernie every possible advantage and big-state upset going forward, and he will be mathematically locked out by May.

In all probability, he will be locked out on April 26th, when a five-state voting block will vote with Hillary's New York victory giving her all the momentum. After that, Bernie's only hope is to try for a brokered convention, which will almost certainly never happen.

What's that? You want to play the "What if?" game regarding a contested convention with Bernie Sanders anyway? You refuse to give up after New York and Pennsylvania? You are one of those who will fight, fight, fight no matter what because this is the goddamned revolution and WE WILL NOT BE SILENT?! Okay, I'll play along. Let's say, just for funsies, that Bernie succeeds in denying Hillary a total of 2,383 pledge delegates. How big a margin can he score on her?

Just for a comparison analysis, I ran the numbers. Let's assume an exact tie going forward. A tie vote in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and everything up to and after California. If that happens, each candidate would get 833.5 delegates, but since we can't have half a delegate, we'll give Bernie the extra delegate, leaving Hillary with 833 and Bernie with 834. That leaves an ending pledge total score of:

Hillary: 2,137
Bernie: 1,909

Given how far Hillary currently leads in the polls in New York, Pennsylvania and California, this is being more than just generous, in my estimation. I'm outright robbing Hillary to make this calculation.

There are 719 super delegates. To get to the magic number of 2,383 in a contested convention, Bernie would need 474 of them. Hillary, by virtue of her current lead carried through to the end, would need only 246. Or, to put it another way, she would need only 34.214% of the remaining super delegate totals in order to win outright! Bernie, by contrast, would need a whopping 65.925% of the super delegates in order to win.

Bernie would be VERY foolish to try to run for a brokered convention!

And that's the best Bernie can hope for! That's assuming an exact tie of everything going forward! That's assuming stunning comebacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland!

True, Bernie could win all those states. He could even win them by commanding margins. But he still has to catch up first.

And that's looking very, very, very unlikely at this point.

Just imagine how unlikely it will look after Hillary wins New York. And as to the person who posted the original image above on Facebook, it's still bullshit!


Eric

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Bernie's Odds - Another Quantitative Analysis


We've seen some of the breakdowns on CNN and other news sources about how steep an uphill climb it might be for Bernie Sanders going forward. But now some voices are crying for a contested convention, and are saying that if the super delegates are fair, they will see that Bernie is the better candidate, and give him the nomination over Hillary if the final vote between them is close. Is that a viable argument?

Once again, I've crunched the numbers on my spreadsheet to make you, my seven loyalists, the smartest people in the room in any conversation about this. Assuming Hillary wins in New York (and all the polls say she will), Bernie will lose ground to the point where he has to win 60% of all remaining delegates to catch up. But can he catch up enough to make the argument that he's the better candidate in spite of the delegate count? I don't think so. Here's why.

Projecting the remaining primaries and caucuses is a bit tricky. Some states, like Rhode Island, Indiana and the Dakotas, have no polling data whatsoever. For states like these, I've given Hillary and Bernie a 50-50 tie, just to see how it will shake out. Otherwise, I've proportioned the votes based on any polling data that is current enough to be latter-March or early-April. Here's what I found.

No matter which way one slices it, it doesn't look like Hillary can wrap up the nomination before California, even if she wins everything else going forward outright. To do that, she would have to have a huge string of commanding wins, and even then won't have the nomination sewn up until mid-May at the earliest. So she will finally win, but not until California, and Bernie will be fighting her all the way, even if he's fallen farther behind.

But let's say that Bernie doesn't. Let's give Bernie some commanding wins in states like Indiana, where there's no polling data but demographics have previously favored him because it is similar to Michigan and Wisconsin. Next let's give him the Dakotas as well as West Virginia. Does he have a chance to catch up a little?

Not really. Even if we give Bernie a big upset in a major state like Pennsylvania, the best he can do is keep Hillary shy of the overall pledge delegate vote total of 2383. Now, she will have way more than that due to super delegates. But suppose she doesn't have enough pledge delegates to put her above 2383. That's entirely possible. How far short will she be?

My analysis shows, not short by enough. If we give Bernie the best case scenario, excepting a huge upset in New York, the best that Bernie can hope for is Hillary falling shy by only about 100 pledge delegates. If we give Bernie and Hillary the respective wins based on current polling data, and make all unknown outcomes an even split between the two, Hillary will fall short by only 50 pledge delegates. And if we give Bernie an insane amount of wins, even in big states like Pennsylvania and New York. Hell, let's even give him California by a narrow margin, the most Hillary will fall short by is 150 pledge delegates. Now, there are 719 super delegates in total. If we give Bernie 79% of all super delegates, he will still lose the nomination to Hillary, because she will, worst-case scenario only need 21% of those super delegates to win!

Yeah. THAT'S how far behind Bernie is!

Why? Because Hillary would have won 1) the popular vote and 2) the pledge delegate vote. Fair and square, no rigged voting, and 3) the super delegates won't even matter, even if they overwhelmingly favor Bernie's side (which, get real, ain't gonna happen!).

Yes, I know, I know. Bernie is on a winning streak of seven straight states. Exciting, right? You're feeling the Bern, right? But those states are all some of the smallest ones in our union. The smallest states by population, smallest to largest, are Wyoming, Vermont, and Alaska. Bernie has won all three, and two of those three recently (the exception being Vermont), but all three put together do not even make up 1% of our nation's overall population! His other recent wins include Hawaii, Utah, Idaho, Wisconsin and Washington State. Of those five, only the latter two are decent sized states. The other five of Bernie's wins are barely 1.5% of the nation's overall population size. Bernie has a winning streak - in the minor leagues.

So, no matter which way you slice it, Bernie's chances are pretty slim. You may still believe he's got a shot, and he just barely does, but if you're hoping a contested convention is your way out, or if you think persuading the super delegates is somehow going to save Bernie at the end, all I can say is one thing:

Dream on!


Eric

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Will Donald Trump Be The Nominee? Another Quantitative Analysis


Pundits love to speculate as to whether Donald Trump can or will win the Republican nomination. After his crushing loss in Wisconsin, Trump has suffered a setback, because Wisconsin was a winner-take-all state. (A silly arrangement, in my opinion.) But now, how does the delegate math work out? Once again, a quantitative analysis is called for. And just like I did in my last blog post, I sat down and crunched the numbers to provide a very good insight into how good Donald's chances really are.

We begin with Donald's current running total of 746 delegates (according to CNN). Using current polling data, it's likely that Trump will win New York on April 19th. However, since this is not a winner-take-all state, he will come away with only, at most, 60% of the delegates. There are 95 delegates at stake. We'll give him a conservative estimate of 50 delegates. Running total: 796.

Next comes a big day on April 26th, with five states voting. Connecticut and Rhode Island are not winner-take-all states, but the other three, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, are. Actually, Delaware is winner-take-all, while Penn. and Mary. are winner-take-most. In all these states, Trump is showing a current, comfortable lead. If we grant conservative totals (a bit more than half) for Conn. and R.I., and give him all of Delaware and most, but not all, of Pennsylvania and Maryland, Trump comes away with 128 more delegates altogether. Running total now: 924.

And here's where it gets really interesting. Next up are Indiana on May 3rd, and Nebraska on May 10th. Neither of these states has any recent polling data, so it's anybody's guess what may happen. Indiana has 56 delegates, and Nebraska has 36. Indiana is winner-take-most, while Nebraska is winner-take-all. If Trump loses both these states, then he will fall just shy of the grand total of 1,237 needed to clinch the nomination, even assuming Trump runs the table the rest of the way! On the other hand, if he wins just one of those states, then he will be able to potentially clinch the nomination on June 7th, when California, New Jersey, and three other states weigh in. All but one of these is winner-take-all or winner-take-most. If he loses either Indiana or Nebraska, he will need all the remaining states to clinch. On the other hand, if he wins both Indiana and Nebraska, the only realistic way to stop Trump will be to defeat him in California.

California! California! California! Will be the #nevertrump rallying cry!

So it comes down to Indiana and Nebraska! Nebraska's demographic is similar to Iowa's, but Indiana is more similar to Wisconsin. Trump should be very careful not to insult Indiana's governor this time!

So! Indiana and Nebraska! Watch them carefully, May 3rd and May 10th, and see if I'm not right. Remember, you heard it here first!


Eric

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 vs. 2008 - A Quantitative Analysis


Lots of comparisons have been made in the media between Hillary's run against Barack Obama in 2008, and her run against Bernie Sanders now in 2016. For example, then as now, One candidate took an early lead, and refused to give it up. Then as now, the trailing candidate refused to quit, and fought tooth and toenail, even when it seems hopeless. Then as now, the fans of the losing side accused the winning side of having things rigged, playing the race card, being a horrible choice, etc. etc. Then as now, those on the losing side then (Hillary) and those likely on the losing side now (Bernie) issue(d) pledges to never vote for the winning candidate.

But one comparison seems lacking, and that's a real analysis of just how far ahead Hillary is over Bernie in contrast to how far ahead Barack Obama was at this point in the campaign eight years ago.

I know why. Doing a quantitative analysis of this kind is hard. VERY hard. It requires a lot of time spent in front of a spreadsheet, crunching boring numbers and accounting for anomalies, of which there are plenty. When it's finally done, you get different answers depending on how you turn the numbers. But I'm returning to accounting one way or another, and so it seemed a fair exercise for me to do exactly that, and then to share the results with you, my adoring seven readers. Here's what I found.

First, it's necessary for there to be two ways to do the analysis, because the primary structure in 2008 was radically different from the primary structure in 2016. For starters, it was much earlier back then. The primaries began on January 3rd, and were largely concluded by March. It was designed to be over relatively quickly. A whopping 22 states voted on Super Tuesday, February 5th, 2008! By contrast, the 2016 campaign began on February 1st, and won't conclude until June, giving much more time for the candidates to campaign. Also, the order in which the states held their primaries is radically different today than it was in 2008. Aside from the first four states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina), the order in which the states voted has shifted wildly. So there can only be two ways to do a true comparative analysis: 1) We can compare the delegates won in 2008 with the delegates won in 2016 on a state-by-state analysis. An "apples to apples," comparison, if you will. Or, 2) we can compare where the candidates were when a comparable number of states had completed voting. As of the Wisconsin primary, 36 out of 57 primaries and caucuses for 50 states, 6 U.S. territories, and 1 voting day for citizens abroad. We can measure where Obama and Hillary were after 36 contests and compare that with today's numbers. A "step by step" comparison.

For both these steps, there are two possible avenues of analysis. We could compare the percentage of votes won, or we could compare the number of delegates won. We could also do both. For brevity, I have limited this to a comparison of delegate numbers, because that's easier for me to calculate and for you to digest. Also, I have left off any "super delegates," because those delegates can and often do change their vote. In 2016 so far, most of them are for Hillary, but that could change if Bernie catches up. By leaving all the supers out of this calculation, I remove any criticism people might have about these delegates throwing off my results.

First, the "apples to apples" comparison. By adding up the delegate totals from each state, we can see where Hillary vs. Obama stands in comparison to Hillary vs. Bernie today. There are, however, a few complications. First, There was a third candidate, Senator John Edwards, who did  not drop out of the race until February, several states into the contest. Those delegates he won were re-apportioned later, causing some problems with the grand totals. For simplicity, I have excluded all his delegates as well.

At this juncture, following the results of the yesterday's primary vote in Wisconsin, Bernie trails Hillary by 252 pledge delegates. (CNN puts her lead at 229 pledge delegates.) He will need to win 57% of all remaining pledge delegates to catch up, and persuade the super delegates to come over to his side. But where was Hillary in terms of trailing Barack Obama at this same juncture in 2008? At this same point in 2008, adding up the delegate totals of each state in 2016's voting order, Hillary trailed Obama by only 156 pledge delegates, and needed to win only about 53% of the remaining delegates to catch up. In other words, at this juncture, Hillary had much more reason to be optimistic back in 2008 than Bernie does in 2016. And back then, the media was also calling it all but over, despite Hillary winning a string of victories over Obama in many smaller states, just like Sanders is doing today. Hillary's lead over Bernie is 62% larger than Obama's lead over Hillary in '08.

Of course, there are a few problems with this analysis. For starters, by the time Wisconsin voted in 2008, a number of key states had already voted which haven't yet in 2016. New York, New Jersey and California had all voted by the time Wisconsin voters got a chance to have their say in 2008. So pundits who were calling for Hillary to get out were doing so knowing that the biggest states which could play to her favor were already behind her, and she had little to look forward to except many states where Obama was polling in the lead. Today, with California, Pennsylvania and New York still to come, there's plenty for Sanders to hope for, even with Hillary holding a nearly 2/3 larger lead than the one Obama had over her eight years ago.

That brings us to the "step by step" analysis, where we compare the same number of states in both electoral contests. By the time contest number 36 had taken place in 2008, Obama led Hillary by only (and this is reasonably stunning) 50 delegate votes! That's an amazingly small lead! And yet with Obama having all the momentum, pundits still said that Hillary should get out. She would have none of it, however, and stayed to the bitter end. She had every reason to, the way she saw it.

Of course, it's not that simple, either. By contest number 36, a number of states held their primary on that same day in 2008. That day was February 12th, and the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia all held their primaries on that same day. Also, the Mariana Islands have a delegation in 2016, which wasn't present in 2008, meaning that we would have to figure one less contest from 2008 in a step-by-step analysis. Including only D.C. in our calculations, Obama only held a 50 delegate lead. But this doesn't seem fair, because contests held that same day should really be included. After all, everyone else was voting at the same time. So, including the results from Maryland, Obama's lead jumps to 66. It jumps up to 94 if one includes Virginia. That's quite a bit of variation, but it's still not insurmountable, and Hillary would have needed only (roughly) 52% of remaining pledge delegates to win.

So, depending on your viewpoint, Obama had anywhere from a 50, to 94, to 156 delegate lead over Hillary at this point in the nomination process back in '08. At this point, pundits were calling it over for Hillary. Some pundits today are singing a similar funeral dirge for Bernie, because the hole he is in is so very much deeper. But the number of delegates yet available in big states is what gives him a glimmer of hope.

Based on this comparison, the conclusion is clear: Bernie needs to win New York, and win it by 57% or more. If he loses it, it's over. If he wins by a slim margin, it won't be enough because he gains no significant ground and would need to win the Pennsylvania and California by margins well in excess of 60% or even 65%. That's doable, but extremely difficult. And nearly impossible if New York is a loss.

So there you have it. Today vs. the thrilling days of yesteryear. My prediction? The Bernie movement will not win the presidency, but will win a solid voting bloc that will pull the Democratic party further to the left and make it more committed to ending corruption. Hell, it's won this already! It will be able to hold Hillary to her promises, and possibly even beat her in a primary fight after one term if she doesn't keep them.

Bernie has been coy about using his power to help the entire Democratic ticket. He said recently to Rachel Maddow, "We'll see."

But he'd be a fool not to wield the power he's won. I think he will.

The old symbol of the Democratic Party is a donkey. The new symbol of the Democratic Party is a sparrow.


Eric

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Why Bernie Edged Out Hillary In Michigan


What do I know that the pundits don't regarding why Bernie Sanders beat out Hillary Clinton in Michigan by one point? Quite a bit, as it turns out, because unlike them, I'm actually paying attention to the local newspapers in Flint and Detroit.

First, let me recap what a huge upset this was. Polls going into this gave Hillary a more than 20 point lead going into the primary as recently as the day before. That should have translated to a huge win for Hillary, and a coast to the nomination afterward. But that didn't happen. What sort of shenanigans could have happened to cause such a huge swing in less than 24 hours?

I don't think much happened in the way of shenanigans. I also don't think only one thing caused such a big change in expectations vs. outcome. Instead, a matrix of factors weighed in all at once. Let me break down what those were.

1.) Turnout!
This, more than anything else, could skew the pre-election polls. Typically, pollsters work with an expectation of likely voters, and turnout for primaries is typically much lower than for a general election. But this primary shattered records and exceeded all expectations. The disaster in Flint has pissed off Michigan voters, and they mean business against anyone seen as establishment! They came out to support the anti-establishment candidate in droves! Pollsters never saw it coming.

2.) Hillary's debate points didn't hit the way pundits thought.
Last Sunday, at the Democratic debate in Flint, when Bernie Sanders attacked Hillary for supporting trade agreements such as NAFTA and the TPP, Hillary had a ready response, pointing out how Bernie had voted against the General Motors bailout. She, and all the pundits, saw that as a tete-a-tete, and called it a wash. Clearly, voters disagreed, perhaps on the rationale that GM wouldn't have needed bailing out if it weren't for NAFTA in the first place.

3.) The Bloomberg Factor.
There was only one significant news story involving the election other than Sunday's debate, and that was the announcement by Michael Bloomberg that he would not run as a third party candidate. The Bloomberg factor (as I called it in this blog), threatened to act as a spoiler if Bernie Sanders was the candidate, thus creating an avenue for Donald Trump to win the presidency with less than a majority. A respectable percentage of Hillary's supporters undoubtedly backed her because they wanted to prevent exactly that sort of thing from happening. But with Bloomberg ruling himself out, many Michigan voters must have decided that it was "safe" to support Bernie Sanders now. And did so!

4.) Late-breaking deciders.
There were a lot of undecided voters hovering in the middle. Pollsters must have thought that they would split down the middle, just as they have in every other Midwestern state which has voted so far. They didn't. They went almost universally for Sanders.

5.) Problems at the polls.
Hillary may have a legitimate gripe when it comes to the polling stations. News stories broke out during the night of polling stations running out of ballots because turnout was so high, and some voters being improperly turned away. Now, Detroit news sources have verified and legitimized the stories, so that they cannot be denied as coming from tabloid sources. You can read about it yourself in the Detroit News here. Certainly, many voters had to wait in long lines before they could vote, and large numbers of them got mad and left. How many votes Hillary lost this way is impossible to quantify, but this happened mostly in big urban areas which favored Hillary. She could argue that this amounted to the barely 1% difference that Sanders won by. This is a huge problem for Bernie, because it de-legitimizes his surprise win.

So, all five of these happened all at once, and the result was a huge last-minute swing for Bernie Sanders, and the most embarrassing failure of pre-polling in living memory. But does that give Bernie a win for the day? As all the other news pundits have already recognized, the answer is no.

Bernie lost Mississippi that same night. Not only did he lose it, he lost it BIG. It was a bloodbath! Not even close. 83% to 16%. Hillary takes nearly all that state's delegates. Meanwhile, Bernie's surprise win, while eye-catching, merely splits the delegate vote nearly down the middle. Bernie gets 7 more delegates that Hillary for winning Michigan. But he looses a difference of 25 delegates to Hillary because she beat him so soundly in Mississippi. That gives a net gain to Hillary of 18 delegates, and so Bernie falls behind with his Michigan victory instead of catching up.

It is the very definition of Pyrrhic victory.

These close victories aren't enough for Bernie. He has to not only win a big state like Michigan, he has to win a big state BIG!

And if he doesn't, then this is just going to end up being one long, drawn out primary battle that serves no purpose except to drain financial resources which could better be spent fighting Donald Trump. I, of course, argue that the Democratic party ought not emerge from the primaries bruised and battered.

But, of course, with Bloomberg out, the prospect of a Sanders comeback seems like it might not be so much of a disaster.


Eric

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