The important thing first.
I predicted who would win the Wisconsin primary, although my prediction suggested that Sanders would do better than he did. (He underperformed.) I predicted the outcome of the Wyoming primary exactly.
These are the most recent two in a long series of mostly correct predictions of which Democratic candidate will win each of the contests in this long presidential primary season. My predictions of which candidate would win have been mostly accurate, but also, fairly accurate with respect to how many delegates each candidate would pick up.
Several primaries back, for several primaries in a row, Sanders did somewhat better than my predictions suggested, indicating that the model I was using to make these predictions possibly underestimated that candidate’s long term performance. However, that stopped happening, and Sanders went back to performing pretty much as I expected him to perform, or not as well.
This verifies the fact that Hillary Clinton will finish this presidential primary season in the lead. Yes of course, one never knows. But at some point one has to presume, even if there is a small chance that a numerically nearly impossible outcome will emerge. And, if this turns out to be wrong, since I am tracking every delegate, I’ll be among the first to know and acknowledge, and shift strategy as needed. But at the moment I feel very comfortable working with the assumption that the primary season will end with Clinton having about 2,000 pledged delegates, and Sanders having between 1700 and 1800 pledged delegates.
If the unpledged delegates simply track this outcome, this will give Clinton the nomination on the first ballot.
I have been using a similar model for making these predictions all along, but refining the model (how it works) and adding data (with each contest’s outcome). I have tried several times to develop a version of the model that would put the consistently second place candidate, Sanders, at an advantage, biasing the model with assumptions about a possible improved performance. Not once did that alternative version of my predictive model put Sanders in the lead at the end of the primary season, though he got close once.
Simply put, barring an unlikely surprise, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2016. That is the important thing.
Now the troubling thing.
From the start of this primary season, I was happy with either candidate, and vowed to support whichever candidate is nominated. Most sane people intend to support the winner, because the alternative is rather horrible. Most people did pick a candidate earlier in the process, but I refused to. Of course, every time I questioned a criticism of Clinton, some Sanders supporters “accused” me (as though that was a legitimate accusation of wrong doing) of supporting Clinton. When I would critique a criticism of Sanders, the reverse would generally happen. Many people were simply not allowing me to be supportive of both. Also, I wasn’t undecided. I had decided that both were excellent candidates, in their own ways.
But it goes beyond that. During this primary season, I’ve witnessed, again and again, people who had previously shown signs of high level functioning and impressive intelligence saying many utterly stupid things. I’ve closely monitored and been involved in many presidential elections, and I note that this often happens to some degree, but this year, this has been happening wholesale and to an extreme. I will not give you examples. If you are a reasonable person who has been paying attention, you don’t need me to give you examples because you know exactly what I am talking about. If you are one of the folks who has been quick to make utterly illogical or fact free arguments about every aspect of this race, often reaching far into the land of conspiracy theory, then you don’t know what I’m talking about but you will sense, somehow, that this paragraph is deeply insulting to you. Feel free to make defensive comments below. I will ignore them. And, I have nothing else to say about this. This departure from reason is, of course, the troubling thing.
The dangerous thing overlaps with the troubling thing.
Weeks ago it started to look like a small number of supporters of Bernie Sanders, in the event that Hillary Clinton was nominated, were going to either write in Sanders, vote for Trump or Cruz, or not vote at all. This did not surprise me, because a good number of the Sanders supporters where I live, in the shadow of Michele Bachmann’s congressional district, are fairly right wing. This may not make sense if you see Sanders as a progressive, very left candidate (which he is) but have a non-nuanced view of politics, but it is both true and understandable. The same thing happened with the Paul mini-Dynasty. I will not spend any time here outlining how this happens.
Over time, however, this “small percentage” has grown, and polling indicates that something close to 20% of declared Sanders supporters are what has become known as “Bernie or Busters” of various political stripes, but all holding the same dangerous view. These folks will not support anyone but Sanders, or will turn on the Democratic party if Sanders is not nominated.
Parallel to this phenomenon we see myriad other destructive practices by Sanders supporters, and by destructive I mean destructive to the political process and to the Democratic candidacy. Given that Clinton is going to get the nomination, it is a significant problem that so many Sander supporters are trying so hard to damage her.
These trends, of “Bernie or Busters” or of taking Clinton as seemingly equivalent to Satan, are a problem not only because of their immediate effects, but because the Sanders campaign accepts and exploits these activities and attitudes. It is no longer possible to point to the two or three times that Bernie Sanders scolded someone for this attitude and claim he is taking care of this, and it is no longer possible to give the Sanders campaign the benefit of doubt, suggesting that they just don’t know about what is going on. Campaigns know these things. Sanders knows about these things.
To this we add the clearly emerging pattern of the Clinton campaign working down ballot, to elect a blue, or at least, bluer Congress (and to help Democrats in other ways), while Sanders does very little in this area (he has done some things, but not much). Sanders’ strategy of having the masses show up in DC to shame the GOP Congress into not being nefarious haters was never going to work. Clinton’s strategy, and the strategy of the rest of the Democratic Party, to take back Congress, can work if we follow through. The numbers show that we actually could do it this year, if we don’t throw away the opportunity. Sanders appears to be throwing away the opportunity, Clinton is not.
So that’s the dangerous part. We need to approach the general election with a candidate and supporters who are going to do what is needed. The Sanders campaign has become a danger.
Among the reactions to this meme were assertions that somehow it is wrong for candidates to help each other (see comments above about taking back Congress .. Franken’s election is exactly how the Democrats retook the Senate for a couple of years). Among the reactions was a call to find someone to primary Franken. These are insane reactions. These are the reactions of deluded cultists, not political activists.
And, these reactions were among the small number of final straws that had fallen upon this particular camel’s back. I decided to take a break from the Facebook conversation about this election for a few days, and I blacked out my profile pics, without comment, as a form of protest. To underscore the protest, I began posting nothing but cat pictures. A handful of my Facebook friends understood and commiserated. A good number of Sanders supporters seemed to quiet down (except one or two), probably realizing that I was fed up.
And now, I’m back. But guess what. I’m not going to argue about Sanders, or Sanders vs. Clinton. The Sanders campaign is done. If this had all gone somewhat differently, I’d still be talking about Sanders, points he’s making, interesting things about his campaign, but the cost of doing that is too high. The Sanders campaign, owing mainly to the personality cultists and the Bernie or Busters, which are probably in total about a third of his supporters, have ruined the campaign, and made it not worth talking about. The Sander campaign, sadly, has become less interesting, more annoying, and just as predictable, as a bunch of cat pictures.
This is not to say that Sanders contribution has not been great. It has been very significant, and this souring of his campaign detracts from that only modestly. But that part is done. We’ve heard Bernie, we’ve listened, he’s influenced the process.
But from hear on out, if you are a Bernie supporter, talk to the paw.