On Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton won in seven out of eleven nominating contests. When the polls closed she was declared the winner in Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, and swing-state Virginia.
Senator Bernie Sanders won four contests: the two caucus states of Minnesota and Colorado, Oklahoma, and as expected, Vermont.
Thank you for setting out caucus turnout record! #CODemCaucus #copoltics #SuperTuesday pic.twitter.com/EmlnuA4eni— Colorado Dems (@coloradodems) March 2, 2016
The most surprising was Clinton pulling off a win in Massachusetts thus breaking into Sanders’s northeastern firewall. Per CNN’s exit poll for the Massachusetts Democratic Primary, Clinton won women, voters 30-44, 45-64, and 65 and older, non-white voters, those that voted in a previous Democratic primary, and those that identify as liberal.
As it was when her husband first ran for president, 40% of voters felt that the economy/jobs were a top priority and those voters broke for Clinton 52-48. Clinton dominated in the electability and experience categories. 48% of Massachusetts Democratic primary voters said that both candidates were honest and trustworthy and Clinton won that category 75-25. 54% of voters felt that Clinton is honest and trustworthy and those voters supported her 78-22.
Probably the big metric coming out of this exit poll was that 45% believed that the next president should continue Obama’s policies and they went for Clinton 70-30.
Sanders may have won in the honest and trustworthy quality, but Clinton dominated in the right experience quality.
The results from the Super Tuesday Democratic primaries and caucuses shows that Senator Sanders has a tough path going forward to his party’s nomination.
As shown in the FiveThirtyEight endorsement primary, Clinton currently has 478 points while Sanders has 5 points. Using the Cook Political Report’s Democratic Primary scorecard and the results from Super Tuesday via the New York Times, Clinton has amassed 600 pledged delegates to Sanders’s 408. Factor in the super delegates which include Democratic governors, senators, congressmen, this guy, former presidents, and other prominent party leaders, Clinton is at 1,057-430 putting her at 44% on her way to the nomination.
Cook Political points out what each candidate’s target delegates are for each state. Right now Clinton is 136 pledged delegates above her pace while Sanders is 149 pledged delegates behind his pace. Sanders has won five nominating contests so far, but only outpaced his target in three contests: Colorado (2), Minnesota (1), and his home state of Vermont (4). In the two other contests he won, Sanders met his delegate target of 15 in New Hampshire and slightly lagged behind his target in Oklahoma by 1.
Even though he was commenting on the Republican’s
shit show clown car
nominating process, Obama 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe observed that
trailing in the delegate count eventually becomes a huge liability.
A reminder - unlike in boxing, there are no late round knockouts in the sport of delegate acquisition. Fall behind too much, it's over.— David Plouffe (@davidplouffe) March 2, 2016
That was one of the successes of Obama’s 2008 primary campaign. It was not about winning the most states or most votes, but rather collecting delegates. This was evidenced in two instances. On the first Super Tuesday contest of 2008, Obama collected 847 delegates winning 13 contests to Clinton’s 834 delegates in 10 contests. Then on Super Tuesday II in March was the Texas primary. The Texas primary was unique in that they held both a primary and caucus on the same day, commonly referred to as the Texas Two-Step which as of now Texas does a standalone primary. Clinton won the primary, but Obama won the caucus. And as the nominating contest went on, Obama kept collecting delegates and adding to his total to where in June he clinched the nomination.
Before any Sanders supporters think history is repeating itself, here comes one of the reasons why 2016 is not like 2008 and what have we learned so far?
As FiveThirtyEight pointed out in their piece about Sanders possibly winning the first two contests followed by losing everywhere else, the Sanders campaign now faces a demographic wave that plays into their delegate math. Of the four contests with a white liberal Democratic primary electorate 50% or greater, Sanders and Clinton tied with Clinton winning in Iowa and Massachusetts and Sanders winning in New Hampshire and Vermont. Senator Sanders’s home state of Vermont has a 59% white liberal voting demographic.
Of the six contests that have a white liberal population of 20% or less, Clinton has won four of those contests with Louisiana’s primary taking place today followed by Mississippi’s primary taking place this coming Tuesday along with Michigan whose white liberal voters make up 35% of Democratic primary voters.
And I think I cited this in my piece about Sanders’s successes, but it is worth repeating. The base of the Democratic Party is made up of non-white voters, and they are essentially kingmakers in this and future Democratic presidential primaries. It will not be enough to just say you will advocate for the issues that affect communities of color, but these communities have to have some kind of connection to the candidate.
In 2008, the black community felt a connection to Barack Obama after his Iowa caucus win that he could be the one who could become our nation’s first non-white president. In 2016, as shown in various exit polls, Hillary Clinton – a white woman – has the support of the black and Hispanic communities due to forging long connections with these communities. I am sure that Sanders’s platform is good, if not better, for these communities. But unfortunately he does not have those connections (and in one instance, the relationship is VERY strained in his home state of Vermont).
Senator Sanders has a lot of things going his way such as the ability to draw large crowds to his rallies and a strong fundraising apparatus. There are some calls for him to suspend his campaign and endorse Clinton in order to unite the party to fight whoever the Republicans end up nominating. I am not joining those calls quite yet. Sanders needs to run his campaign as long as his strategists think there is a path to the nomination, but it is getting very narrow. And just like with Clinton eight years earlier when she conceded the nomination to Obama, the Sanders campaign needs to find a way to do so when that time happens and on their terms.
The only way Sanders can win the nomination is if he can out preform Clinton in states he is expected to lose as well as score a huge upset in some upcoming delegate rich state like Michigan (130 pledged delegates), and those participating on 15 March: Florida (214 pledged delegates), Missouri (71 pledged delegates), North Carolina (107 pledged delegates), and Ohio (143 pledged delegates).
There was a lot to sort in the aftermath of Super Tuesday for the Democrats, and I expect there will be more in the upcoming March contests.