Friday, February 21, 2020

The math says that Bernie is the likely Dem candidate. But there are some things that could reverse that - if they get done yesterday.

The delegate math now favors Bernie Sanders reports John Cassidy at The New Yorker. Here is some of it.

The most significant development in the Democratic primary over the past few days wasn’t Wednesday night’s slugfest of a debate in Las Vegas, entertaining as that was for anybody not in Michael Bloomberg’s camp. It was the publication of three separate opinion polls that showed Bernie Sanders with a substantial lead over the other candidates in California, which votes on Super Tuesday, March 3rd, now less than two weeks away.

"Since the contests in Iowa and New Hampshire primaries … Sanders has opened up a large lead over the rest of the field across Super Tuesday states,” Mitch Stewart and Dan Kanninen, two staffers on the Bloomberg campaign, wrote in a controversial campaign memo that was leaked just before Wednesday’s debate. “As the race stands today, Sanders is poised to leave Super Tuesday with an over–400 delegate lead versus his next closest competitor a likely insurmountable advantage,” the memo warned.

The other campaigns rightly slammed the leaking of this document as a brazen effort to put pressure on Biden, Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar—Bloomberg’s rivals in the moderate lane—to leave the race. After Bloomberg’s pitiful performance in the debate, it is perhaps he who should be considering an early exit. But the delegate math can’t be swept aside. The independent Web site FiveThirtyEight—whose forecasting model for the primary takes into account the latest polls and the method of allocating delegates, as well as other factors—also shows Sanders taking a lead of more than three hundred delegates over his nearest rival by the end of Super Tuesday.

To be sure, this analysis is based on recent trends continuing, which may not happen. A strong showing for Biden in Nevada, followed by a big victory in South Carolina, could alter the dynamic, as could a sizable bounce for Warren, after her strong performance in Wednesday’s debate. Even absent some major new development, Sanders is far from assured of getting a majority of the pledged delegates at the end of the process. Unless his vote share increases substantially from where it currently is in the polls, Sanders achieving such a decisive result seems like a stretch. Right now, though, the senator appears to have a very good chance of having a plurality of delegates going into the Milwaukee convention.

I, your Scriber, don’t regard myself as one of the ABOTS (Any Body Other Than Sanders) but (#1) I favor Warren, and (#2) I really do worry that Sanders will lose to Trump. (Socialism, socialism, solcialism ad nauseam.)

If you share my misgivings (or even not), try tuning into this from Charlie Sykes’ the morning Bulwark email.

It’s later than you think, writes Tim Miller in this morning’s Bulwark. “Barring a drastic change in the race,,” he writes, “Bernie Sanders is going to be the presumptive Democratic nominee 11 days from now.”

“Eleven days.”

Some of us have seen this happen before. Miller lived it from inside…. So, helpfully, he offers “The 5 Lessons from 2016 Democrats Need to Understand If They Want to Stop Bernie.” Miller provides “an emergency guide to what I learned during the invasion of 2016.”

History is repeating itself. Democrats can learn how to save their party from seeing how the Republicans lost theirs ” writes Miller.

For starters, consider that the other candidates have been busy sticking it to each other. Miller provides a piece of history from the 2016 race.

Everyone else [other than Jeb Bush] went to pains not to target Trump and instead aim their fire at the guys in second, third, fourth, and fifth places. Remember the Christie/Rubio murder-suicide? You would think the non-Bernie Democratic campaigns would’ve learned that shivving one another only helps the frontrunner, not the guy or gal holding the shank.

And yet for two straight debates the non-Bernies repeated the same exact Christie/Rubio nightmare scenario. First in New Hampshire, the field focused on Mayor Pete rather than Bernie. (Bernie’s campaign admitted to NBC’s Shaq Brewster that it was that debate which stunted Buttigieg’s momentum and probably cost him the win.) On Wednesday night in Nevada, they did the same damn thing, with Warren disemboweling Mayor Mike and Pete and Amy continuing their tiff.

Remember this? NBC reported that Bloomberg to fund sizable campaign effort through November even if he loses Democratic nomination. Exclusive: The former New York City mayor plans to continue paying hundreds of staffers and funding his digital operation to defeat Trump even if he’s not the nominee.

So, on the money matter, Mayor Mike, shut up and put up. Back to Miller …

Bloomberg has spent $230 million and counting on TV and digital ads in the Super Tuesday states—all to bootstrap his own campaign. (I went in depth on the problem with his game theory and how it might be helping Sanders here.)

If Mike’s goal is to actually beat Bernie—and not just finish Super Tuesday with a gentleman’s 18 percent and embark on a long, losing slog in the hopes something crazy happens—then his paid media needs to shift to targeting Bernie immediately.

Let me emphasize this: Immediately, today, five minutes ago, right the fork NOW.

If Bloomberg embarks on a high-volume ad campaign aimed at Bernie it might have the effect of capping or peeling off enough of Bernie’s support before Super Tuesday to push the decisive window further out than just 11 days from now.

Which could, in turn, give the Democratic elites time to use their leverage and the other candidates to redirect their attacks.

Miller also points to another lesson from 2016: That “wait and see” approach became “it’s too late to do anything” really forking fast! So Establishment Figures Who Can Make A Difference Can’t Afford To Wait.

So let’s take a look at 2020 and which Democratic figures are on the sidelines: the Obamas, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore.

Basically every major Democrat who a normal primary voter would know and whose endorsement could command a news cycle is sitting around to see how things shake out.

And I promise you that every one of them who is right now weighing when to put their thumb on the scale will quickly decide after Super Tuesday that they don’t want to be fighting a lonely battle against an inevitable Bernie.

Some of these individuals could shake up the race. Imagine the consolidation pressure if an Obama or Clinton came out for Pete or Joe or Amy in the way Ted Kennedy did for Obama in 2008. That would be the type of event that could legitimately change the balance of the race. If it happened soon.

Check out Miller’s essay for other lessons from 2016. And see the Friday Blog for Arizona post from the AZ Blue Meanie for Some thoughts about ‘fight night’ in Las Vegas.

Tick tock.

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