As the Bernie Sanders campaign juggernaut swings through Southern California this week—National City in San Diego County Saturday, Anaheim and Irvine in Orange County today, Santa Monica and East LA Monday, then onto Riverside on Tuesday—likely drawing thousands upon thousands of avid supporters to each venue, talking about Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic Party's presidential nomination just yet is a bit ridiculous.
And you might know from our formal endorsement for Bernie, the regular coverage of his campaign that we publish, and the occasional pro-Bernie article we can find time to write ourselves, that we here at the LA Progressive have stood foursquare behind Bernie Sanders. Indeed, we maintain that stance, hoping that Bernie can drive to a convincing victory here in California so he can take a powerful argument to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in late July.
But as the great catchphrase of our times tells us, "It Is What It Is"—and the chances that Bernie Sanders will be our next president are exceedingly slim. So our "5 Reasons Hillary Won" poll asked how did we find ourselves in this fix with a dyspeptic crypto-Republican set to throw down with a reality show celeb to lead our country?
Now let's review the top three reasons you found for Hillary's current dominance and two reasons that received curiously scant support.
Mainstream Media's Fat Thumb
Not surprisingly, the evident media bias toward Hillary rose right to the top with 68% of respondents putting one of their votes there. As Dee said:
"I finally stopped watching cable news. MSNBC has been the Hillary all the time station. Nothing about Bernie. The girl’s club did not appeal to me."
The lopsided coverage has been hard to miss, but not so hard to explain. The mainstream media are owned by the creamiest cream of the one percenters, who want nothing to do with the higher taxes Sanders wants to impose on the wealthiest among us, the restrictions he would put on Wall Street's out-of-control financial institutions, the effort he would make to move us toward universal healthcare—and the likelihood that he would not adopt a "more muscular" foreign policy to keep our military-industrial complex humming at top speed.
As Mickey Weinberg said, "Both of the major political parties and the corporate MSM [mainstream media] are comfortable with status quo power relations and the places of the respective principal players and their cronies within it." Neither Trump nor Clinton are going to upset any applecarts; indeed, Hillary's vaunted "increments of progress" will likely be little more than a cosmetic makeover.
Can you imagine where the Sanders campaign would be if over the past year Bernie had gotten anything like the onslaught of free, revenue-boosting coverage that Trump has gotten?
Social media has become a major factor in the Sanders campaign favor, as Karen Wingard pointed out, fueling a groundbreaking crowd-funding engine that will have a deep impact on future campaigns and reportedly causing the Clinton campaign to invest $1 million in bloggers to try to combat Bernie's online army. Still, according to the American Press Institute, Americans get the bulk of their news from more tradition television, radio, and print newspaper sources:
"The most frequently utilized devices include television (87 percent), laptops/computers (69 percent), radio (65 percent), and print newspapers or magazines (61 percent)."
But can you imagine where the Sanders campaign would be if over the past year Bernie had gotten anything like the onslaught of free, revenue-boosting coverage that Trump has gotten—or the fawning kid-glove treatment Clinton has received from so many reputable corners?
Closed or Open
Two related survey choices about closed primaries and the independent vote both scored high—with both drawing 55% of your votes.
Clearly, Sanders has done exceedingly well in states that have allowed independents and same-day registrants to vote in Democratic primaries. In states with closed primaries, he has done much less well. As the Boston Globe reported:
"In Wisconsin’s open primary, exit polls showed Sanders won independents, 72 percent to 28 percent, fueling his victory there. In New Hampshire’s open primary, where Sanders defeated Clinton by 22 points, he was roughly tied with Clinton among registered Democrats but received a big boost from independent voters. In Michigan’s open primary, where Sanders upset Clinton last month, exit polls show he dominated among independent voters, 71 percent to 28 percent."
As across the country many more Americans are registering as independents, keeping them out of primaries would not seem to work well in general elections. Currently, according to a Gallup poll, 42% of voters register as independents, with 29% registering as Democrats and 26% as Republicans. But, as the Washington Post and others have pointed out, many of these "independents" lean toward one party or the other, leaving just 12% who are actual independents.
And, as regular columnist Berry Craig points out, open primaries present their own problems:
"Imagine in some open primary states, more than a few Democrats voted for Donald Trump, figuring he’d be a pushover in the general election—a decision they may come to rue. Evidently, some Trump supporters in West Virginia voted for Sanders to get back at Clinton."
Fortunately, California has an partially open primary in which people who have registered as "No Party Preference"—which once was "decline-to-state" or DTS voters—can request a partisan ballot for the Independent Party, the Democratic Party, or the Republican Party.
Those Pesky Superdelgates
Again not surprisingly, the poll highlighted some of the heat that has been directed at the superdelegate system and at superdelegates themselves from Sanders supporters. "Superdelegates that can be bought, bullied, and cajoled undermined the democratic process," commented Laurie Smyla.
In an earlier poll, we reported on the superdelegates, how the system came to be, and how it's left a bitter taste in many people's mouths:
"And since Hillary has been running for president for at least a decade, she has mastered a plan to leverage the superdelegate system to her advantage, signing up a great many of the 719 superdelegates long before the race began, thus closing off any potential challenger before the starting gun sounded."
But no matter what the talking heads might lead you to believe, the fact remains that superdelegates will not cast their votes until they get to Philadelphia, even if a great many have indicated—often long ago—a preference for Hillary. So it ain't over till it's over.
We've gotten to know several superdelegates, both among elected officials and among party stalwarts.
From the ones we've had a chance to observe, you should not mistake these party stalwarts with the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelsons of the world. They are not venal people, looking to subvert American democracy to line their pockets and protect their class interest.
Rather, they seem to be people who have decided to give a good part of their lives—both as volunteers and as paid party cadre—to supporting their political ideals first, to building a strong Democratic Party second, and way down the line to service their loyalty to particular candidates. They're the ones who serve on committees, organize rallies, set up campaign offices, and run for party offices—good eggs who keep the party machine running. No doubt there are exceptions among them, but that's what I see from my mountaintop perch.
Among elected officials who serve as superdelegates, the calculus is likely different. With them, their need and desire to get reelected, to move to the next rung in the ladder, to have weighty influence in party affairs, rises much closer to the top. And building a strong Democratic Party to help them do that likely moves beyond desires to support those political ideals they might have formed in their youth.
I say that because in no place in these descriptions did I say they are stupid people. They're not. They're obviously go-getting strivers who found ways to navigate through the political world.
Which means they're seeing the same things we're seeing. They're seeing that Trump has already surpassed Clinton in polling across the country.
They see that Hillary—with all her support in the media, on Wall Street, and in the Democratic Party hierarchy—can't shake a 74-year-old, small-state senator from Vermont who's spent his life registered as an independent, and is, oh goodness, a "self-described socialist," as you've no doubt heard from more than one talking head.
And they see that no stadium ever seems big enough to hold Bernie's rallies—in Red States and Blue, in big cities and small towns, from coast to coast—while Hillary has so much trouble filling high school auditoriums that her campaign has shifted to what they call "boutique events," as if that's a good thing.
And if Bernie wins California big—seven points, 10 points 12 points—what are they going to say to all those thousands and thousands of people turning out to his events, to the millions making small-dollar donations, to the scads of independents looking his way? Are they going to say to the next generation of voters, who will hold sway for the next 40 years, "You're young. You don't know how this works. Go eat your peas."
No doubt some of them will, but I pray most of them don't. And I hope Bernie Sanders keeps running the same high-minded, energetic campaign he's been running right through California, through Philadelphia, through November, straight through to create "A Future We Can Believe In"—whether he does it from the White House or his white house in Burlington, Vermont.
What We Missed
As several of you pointed out, our poll did not give nearly enough weight to the effect "voter suppression, unaccountable proprietary voting machines and software, collusion by party establishment insiders, electoral fraud and vote theft, and illegal election rigging in general" has had, as Sasha Karlik said.
To our surprise, very few of you pointed to the role the African Americans and Latino vote played—especially in the early-voting Southern states—in giving Hillary her early lead.
And then both our poll and our readers downplayed the actual policy differences between possible Sanders administrations and Clinton administrations.
In follow-up articles, we'll address those misses
Dick Price, Editor
Here's the survey, in case you missed it: