As predicted on this very blog months ago (and probably everywhere else, too), March 15 was the target date. This was the date when the nomination was all but decided. Bernie Sanders put up a great fight, and he did what he said he intended to do at the beginning, which was to move the discussion to the left, and he did that well. I mean, I never thought I would ever see another election in which Democrats were fighting over who was more progressive, and yet, there they were.
Bernie’s campaign was always problematic, in that it was never run with an eye on winning the nomination. He’s been running for almost a year and the entire campaign has been about giving the same stump speech, which is 100% concerned with domestic economic issues, which are important, but not the only issue. Economically, things are probably more stable now than they’ve been in years. When Hillary started her campaign with a “listening tour,” she was sending a signal that she intended to be an Obama-style candidate this time around and react to people’s actual concerns. Bernie’s campaign was more limited, with his sole appeal has been to white (mostly male) progressives with means. He needed to listen more and get his own story out, and he failed to do that.
For a long time, the staunchest Bernie fans have been nothing short of obnoxious and abrasive and seemed more intent on attacking Hillary than on making sure people knew who Bernie was. I wrote about this last July, because I was already worried about it, for his sake. I wanted to see a competitive race, and it was, at least until the votes started coming in. Before the primaries actually started, he looked like he was closing in. Even after Iowa and New Hampshire, it looked a lot better for him than it was. He needed to win Iowa by at least 5-10 points, but he tied, even with a solid year of running there. And he was always going to win New Hampshire, so that was no big surprise.
But since then, he hasn’t won very many states; even his “stunning” Michigan win was a tie. He seems incapable of winning anything but caucuses. His only two large wins were in New Hampshire and Vermont, for obvious reasons. He’s not winning over Black people and he’s not doing particularly well with women or Latinos and all of those are the Democratic Party base. The biggest problem, however, is his name recognition, even after a year of campaigning, which is less than 80%. You know those ratings that show Hillary with higher “negative” ratings that Bernie people talk about a lot? Look more closely. Yes, “disapproval” of Bernie is lower, but “approval” of Bernie and Hillary are roughly the same. That column “don’t know”? That’s all about name recognition, and Bernie’s is much higher. When running against a candidate with 100% name recognition, the first thing a campaign has to do is introduce their candidate. And no, screaming “Bernie is the greatest man since Jesus Christ!” doesn’t increase name recognition.
This is a common problem with a certain strain of “progressives.” They watch Thom Hartmann every Friday for “Brunch with Bernie” and they love listening to him, and they assume everyone else must do that, too and anyone who doesn’t know who Bernie is must be a moron. They have been doing the same with issues for years. If they think their position on an issue is righteous, they don’t bother teaching others about it, they assume everyone already knows what they know and they just call anyone who doesn’t know what they think they know a “low information voter” and write them off. That’s not how you build a brand.
I won’t tell anyone a path to the nomination for Bernie isn’t possible, but he’d pretty much better hope she’s indicted for some major crime, and I don’t mean anything to do with an email server. She’d pretty much have to be found with a corpse and holding the gun. As of this morning, her delegate lead is at least 324, not counting super delegates, which means Bernie would have to win every other state by at least 25-30 points to eke out a bare majority. As for his “strategy” of making up the difference in super delegates, she already has about 60% of them and the only way they’ll switch away from Hillary is if he puts together a huge win streak. Possible, but not likely. I see him winning a few smaller states, but he would have to win Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey and California by at least 20 points each to even put a dent in her lead and convincing people to back him.
He shouldn’t drop out. He should keep running and keep influencing the debate. We should all enjoy the spectacle of two candidates on our side arguing over who’s more progressive. But then, every progressive needs to get behind Hillary Clinton in the fall.
Look at it this way… the first woman president right after the first black president? Not only will right wing heads explode, but it’ll for the Republican Party to reconstitute and change strategy. That’s good for all of us. Remember who the real enemy is. It’s not Hillary and it’s not Bernie.