For Bernie, the clock continues to run

The Bernie Sanders campaign had a great night, winning one-sided victories in the Idaho and Utah caucuses.

The Hillary Clinton campaign had a great night, winning the Arizona primary by a substantial margin.

The overall result: a strong positive for Clinton.

In spite of Bernie’s yoooge leads in the caucuses, Clinton comes out of Tuesday night with a slight net gain in delegates*. And that’s the only thing that matters. As good an outcome as it was for Bernie, he needs to do a lot better — and he can’t afford any Arizona-style setbacks.

*True when I wrote this. No longer the case; Bernie picked up a few delegates overall. My point remains the same: Bernie’s running out of time.

Tad Devine, Bernie’s campaign adviser, is fond of a football analogy:

“We’re at half-time here and we agree that we’re behind but we also think we’re going to win this game and we’re going to finish ahead and we see a path to get there.”

That’s exactly what he needs to be saying. But there’s a fundamental flaw in the analogy. If a football team is behind at halftime, it can score a bunch of touchdowns while shutting down the opponent. It rarely happens, but it’s possible.

In the Democratic presidential nominating process, you can’t do that. Delegates are awarded proportionally. Which means every time Bernie scores a touchdown, Hillary gets four, five, or six points. That makes her current lead all but insurmountable.

Clinton has a sizeable lead in pledged delegates — not counting the superdelegates. (She also has a sizeable lead in the raw-vote total so far, which blows a big hole in Bernie’s claim to be the People’s Choice, but that’s a post for another day.) She won that lead by dominating Sanders in a whole bunch of states.¬†To catch up, Bernie has to do the same — according to Vermont Pundit Emeritus Eric Davis, he’d have to win the remaining contests by margins of 60 percent or so. All of the remaining contests.

His only shot is a Hillary implosion. And it had better happen soon; the more time ticks off the clock, the harder it gets to mount a comeback. If it was halftime last week, well, now it’s five minutes into the third quarter.

At some point very soon, Hillary can coast to the nomination. Well, maybe it’s already happened, considering that she spent most of last week off the campaign trail.

The Sanders camp argues that the back half of the process favors him. In some ways he’s right, although I question whether he can count on victories in states like New York and California. There are plenty of progressive voters in both states, but there are also a lot of mainstream Democrats and substantial minority populations. Bernie still hasn’t gained traction with the black or Hispanic electorate. Also, you might recall that Clinton was a successful and very popular U.S. Senator from New York.

On balance, even if Bernie wins those two states (an iffy proposition at best), there’s no chance he will score the dominant victories he needs.

Bernie has every right to stay in the race. Tad Devine is right to do whatever he can to pump up Bernie’s prospects. But his analogy is fatally flawed, and Bernie has no practical shot at the nomination.


12 thoughts on “For Bernie, the clock continues to run

  1. Susan

    Still feeling the Bern, we have a ways to go yet and I am amazed with the prejudice against Bernie when it comes to the press-printed or televised that he has done so well. Give the man some damn credit!

  2. Faith King

    I believe you are incorrect. Sanders has the net gain from yesterday’s contests, not Clinton (in spite of her much vaunted “decisive win” in Arizona). Quick look at the delegate results in the NYT indicates Clinton won 51 delegates yesterday and Sanders won 67 (26 in Arizona, 24 in Utah and 17 in Idaho).

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Explained elsewhere. HRC had a small lead when I wrote the post. Later, the delegate apportionment continued, and Bernie wound up ahead for the night. He still has to dramatically pick up the pace.

  3. ethan

    Well your math ain’t very good. According to the New York Times, Bernie gained 67 delegates last night in the three states. Clinton gained 51. That’s a net gain of 16 for the Bern! Contrary to what you have proclaimed in your post. When will people like you stop misrepresenting and downplaying Bernie’s success?

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Since you asked… the delegate totals were incomplete when I wrote this post early this morning. At the time, HRC did have a small lead. Then I was traveling all day, away from the online world. I’ve added an update to the post.

      And my point is still valid. Bernie has to catch up a whole lot faster than this to overtake Hillary. And the clock is running.

  4. newzjunqie

    My crystal ball sees Hellary in an orange jumpsuit w/matching flipflops. And interestingly sure wears alot of orange & orange-red. Will likely hope to delay the trainwreck until in office if she makes it so she can choose sex-predator philandering Bill, who’s really running for his third using her as marker, as veep and leave the Clyde half of the Bonnie and Clyde career-crim partnership to run the show.

    As news emerges of an FBI-DOJ standoff, complete with Nixonian-style mass resignations of FBI investigators if criminal charges for espionage not pursued by the empaneled Grand Jury, I think this is why some are bailing.

    Does anyone have eyes and are they open? Surprising that loyal supporters seem blind to the fact that wherever she or they go, always a new scandal, a simmering then boiling-over controversy emerges with one or both defending themselves in couched terms and carefully-qualified verbiage or cloud of suspicion followed by the predictable cloak-and-dagger, ever-present teams of lawyers which the staunch glibly explain away. As the song says “it’s getting harder and harder to breathe”…

  5. Dave Katz

    Non conspiracy non theory, plain fact: Since the Roberts Court declared the country officially colorblind, therefore the Voting Rights act can be gutted like a catfish, polling places in Arizona number fewer than half those in 2012. People were waiting in line five hours after the polls closed, according to the New York Times.

    I don’t want to hear about who “won”. We all lost.

    If the Democratic National Committee had a gram of principle, they would loudly declare the process in that state corrupt and unfair, and negate the results of that race. All votes count or none do.

    Where’s Hillary on this? Seems she was making noises about voter suppression legislation in the Fall. If I know about Arizona’s blatant voter suppression tactic, her people damn well know it too.
    Yeah. Right. She “won”. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    Oh, and not for nothing, but the still-late Chief Justice of SCOTUS, William Rehnquist, made his Republican bones doing voter suppression in Arizona in the early 60s.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      And you just know for certain that those suppressed voters would have backed Bernie? That the Republican authorities in Arizona were cooking the books for Hillary?

      Seems to me, if Arizona’s voter suppression tactics mirrored those of other states, it would have been minority precincts getting the short end. And those are mainly Hillary voters.

      I agree the Arizona primary was bungled, but you have no way of showing it benefited Clinton or penalized Sanders.

      1. Dave Katz

        Beside the point, John. The voting process in AZ was just simply, deliberately ratf*ckd at the administrative level, absent the teeth of the Voting Rights Act to prevent it. The franchise was hijacked, in broad daylight, for cryin’ out loud! A straight-up candidate would have called for a do-over or an investigation, and ought doubly to have done so, especially if one’s personal integrity has been, shall we say, something of an open question in this campaign.

      2. Faith King

        Golly. Well, first of all, Clinton pulled out a win – so she wasn’t harmed. There’ve been a number of reports regarding Independents being unable to vote, or being told their provisional ballots wouldn’t count. Although you are good at putting laser-beam attention on that part of the electorate (minority voters) with whom Clinton is strongest – and ignoring those portions of the electorate Sanders is consistently winning (ie. independent voters, lower income whites and Republicans) ….we all know Independents and cross-over Republicans aren’t voting for Clinton. They’re going for Sanders. We also all know lower income folks are more likely to have the kind of low wage jobs that don’t let you stand in line for 3, 4 or 5 hours to vote. (Hell, they’ve got jobs that don’t even let em’ make phone calls.) Finally, who pulls the strings behind this kind of gross mismanagement? Republicans could well be inclined to throw the election toward Clinton because all polls are showing her faring worse against Trump than Sanders (another bit of information you don’t like to talk about). In spite of the repeated misinformation that she’s a stronger candidate against Trump, she’s not. Dem’s? Well that’s obvious. Clinton is the establishment candidate and it’s the establishment who manages elections. .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s