Monday, March 28, 2016

Sanders And The Superdelegates

Running a pretty big victory lap after this weekend's wins in Hawaii, Alaska and Washington state, Bernie Sanders is confident that Democratic party superdelegates will start jumping from the Clinton ship any time now.

"I think the momentum is with us," Sanders said on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper on Sunday. "A lot of these superdelegates may rethink their positions with Secretary Clinton."

The Vermont senator swept Saturday's Democratic contests in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii, easily winning the majority of the 142 pledged delegates in those states. The biggest prize of the day was in Washington, which offered 101 delegates to be split up on a proportional basis.

The latest delegate counts still put Sanders behind Clinton, however, with 1,004 pledged delegates to her 1,712.

Of those, 469 are superdelegates who have pledged to Clinton and only 29 have pledged to Sanders.

Sanders on Sunday said those superdelegates may begin to see the "reality" that he's the best candidate to beat GOP front runner Donald Trump.

"I think when they begin to look at reality, and that is that we are beating Donald Trump by much larger margins than Secretary Clinton" Sanders said. "And then you've got superdelegates in states where we win by 40 or 50 points. I think their own constituents are going to say to them, 'Hey, why don't you support the people of our state and vote for Sanders?'"

Bernie Sanders has a long way to go, frankly.  Yes, he's still in the race, and no Clinton hasn't put him away yet.  But I think Sanders is engaging in a bit of wishful thinking here. He needs to make up more than 200 pledged delegates from the remaining primaries, and unless you think he's going to win states like California and New York by the kind of margins he got in Washington's caucus, that's not going to happen.

Sanders knows however that he needs both superdelegates and big primary wins to pull this off, and it's still very much a long shot.  However even if he doesn't win he does have influence, and Clinton is eventually going to have to deal with that. Juan Williams:

Sanders’ “socialist” label is a liability in a general election. The Vermonter will hurt Clinton’s effort to win support from political moderates, especially older voters. Sanders would also be a bridge too far for Republicans disenchanted by their party’s wild primary season and the prospect of either Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as the GOP’s presidential candidate. 
Adding Sanders to the ticket would also create an opening for Republican ad-makers. They would gleefully target his past congressional votes opposing tax cuts, the Patriot Act and new military defenses against a possible Iranian missile attack. 
But if Sanders is not to be made the prospective veep, Democrats will have to find something else to give him. After all, he has exceeded all expectations during the primary season. The depth of his support was underlined by his three strong victories on Saturday in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington. And Democrats live in fear of a him mounting a third-party run along the lines of the populist campaign run by Ralph Nader in 2000 that arguably gave the White House to George W. Bush. 
The heart of this troublesome political puzzle for Democrats is how to get Sanders’s passionate supporters to line up behind Clinton. In early March, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found a third of the people voting for Sanders saying they “cannot see themselves voting for Hillary Clinton in November.” 
The Nation magazine, a leading voice of the left, reported recently that “nearly 60,000 people have signed the ‘Bernie or Bust’ pledge,” vowing to remain loyal to him even if Clinton wins the nomination.

The next battle is April 5 in Wisconsin for both parties, the state has a open primary. We'll see how this all shakes out, but the better Sanders does going forward, the higher a price he can extract come July.

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