The miracle of March 9, 2016, was that Bernie Sanders won in Michigan. He won by 50 to 48 points, when there wasn't a single poll that had him winning in the last month. Many polls showed her leading by 20 points or more. And Nate Silver's investigation showed that there hadn't been such an upset since the 1984, when Walter Mondale was supposed to beat Gary Hart by 17 points but lost to him by 9. Nate Silver himself thought Hillary Clinton had a 99% chance of beating Bernie.
But Bernie won!
I was at the gym the next morning, and two African-American guys about age 20 let me work in with them. So I asked one of them, "Are you voting?" (I asked that because I've been handing out Bernie flyers for months here in Los Angeles, and I find far too many African-Americans who say they aren't voting.)
This guy cheerfully answered, "Oh, sure, I'm voting. Who are you voting for?"
"Bernie," I said. "He's the best. And you?"
"Oh, man, I still gotta think about it a lot."
"Bernie just won in Michigan. And I think California's primary is really going to count this time."
The other guy (with a more serious face) said, "I'm voting for Bernie."
"Oh, yeah?" replied the first guy. "You never told me that."
"I hope you vote for Bernie, too," I said.
Anyway, there were two African-American millennials. Millennials vote for Bernie in droves. African-Americans vote for Hillary in droves (which is why she ripped through the South in the past few weeks).
In the past few days, I volunteered for the writing team at Los Angeles for Bernie. (If you want to volunteer for that or canvassing or phonebanking or some other task, contact email@example.com. We can use all the help we can get.) In our first meeting, we tried to figure out what message we are going to try to send to important voting groups. Like millennials, but also like older voters. Like African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans. Like conservatives and moderates.
The Michigan vote seems as though he's turned the corner maybe. Despite the polls, he may well win Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. He really has to win Pennsylvania. And California is a must.
I didn't ask the two guys at the gym what message we should be sending to African-Americans or millennials. To the latter, it's probably, "Make sure you vote!" If you're a millennial, and you're in the Democratic primary, you probably will vote for Bernie. To the former, though, I'm sort of stumped. Should the message be, "Bernie says Black Lives Matter. Vote for him!"? Or should it be, "Bernie wants equality for all. Vote for him!"? Or maybe, "Civil and economic rights now! Vote for Bernie!"? It's really hard to know, and Bernie is having that same problem, it seems, because he's not picking up African-American votes in large numbers.
Still, the Michigan vote seems as though he's turned the corner maybe. Despite the polls, he may well win Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. He really has to win Pennsylvania. And California is a must.
I'm almost willing to predict that it will be a close race, and California will actually become a really important primary state for the first time since 1968. We all remember what happened then. I'm not predicting an assassination or anything like that, although I think an assassination of Bernie or Trump would lead to real rioting in the streets. I don't think anyone is going to accept a "lone assassin" story this time. But I would say that if Bernie ekes out a win in delegates with California but Hillary takes the nomination using superdelegates, there is likely to be a major exiting from the Democratic Party. Right now, according to polls, Clinton holds only a 9 point national edge over Sanders, who has 44% of the voters. And a full third of Bernie's backers can't see themselves voting for Hillary.
I'm in that group. I've voted Democratic all my life, except in 1980 when I voted for John Anderson instead of Carter. Not that it mattered: I was living in California, and Ronald Reagan won it by a landslide. But this year the Republicans don't have a chance of taking California (this shows how things can change). So if I vote Green, it's very unlikely to change the result.
Bernie wants a political revolution. So do I. It may take destroying the Democratic Party to do it. The Republican Party is already on the ropes. It would be pretty interesting if they both parties collapsed in the same year. We really need change.