The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

First National Poll Shows Bernie Up Over Clinton

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Fourty-seven to fourty-four. Within the margin of error, but given the very well established trend, I’m inclined to believe it.

Clinton went down fighting against Obama (which I admired), and I’m sure she’ll go down fighting against Bernie, but at this point, absent some shocking news, I think she’s done.

I really don’t understand Clinton’s campaign. She seemed to feel so entitled to people’s votes that she didn’t even bother to pander and lie. No you can’t have a $15 minimum wage, universal health care, free tuition, Glass-Steagall, or most other things.

I’m glad she told the truth, mind you, but it’s still strange to see someone so blind to political realities.

(I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write this year. If you value my writing, and want more of it, please consider donating.)

Clinton has run almost entirely on her biography, on being “capable,” without seeming to understand that her biography includes a lot of actions that primary voters might find objectionable.

She has assumed that women would vote for her, in effect, because she is a woman, and that minorities would stay massively in her column.

Right now only African Americans are holding steady for her; the numbers on virtually every other group are breaking for Bernie.

This is going to get super-ugly, because Clinton can’t win based on who she is, or on her platform, so she’s going to have to fling every piece of mud she can find and hope that something sticks.

She can’t even run on being more electable, because polls are increasingly showing Bernie does better against Cruz or Trump. He even does better than her in a three-way competition with Bloomberg.

This is going to be the most interesting election season of my life. I suppose it already is. Get out the popcorn, and roast your weenies. We may be roasting on fires in the antechamber of Hell, depending on who wins, but at least it’s fascinating.


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  1. Lisa

    I always thought it would be Sanders vs Trump.

    Clinton wouod lose against Trump thought she’d win against Cruz.

    The GOP in the end will have to back Trump beaxuse the Dominionalist Cruz is unelectable, there are simply not enough rght wing mad Christans in the US.

    I suspect when it comes to the election that many commentatrs will be surprised just popular Trump really is, though Sanders wll beat him

  2. tony

    I recall some Americans complaining about how the gay community went full Klan after the black community voted against gay marriage. If Sanders loses and it’s blamed black Americans it might get ugly. The Republicans are becoming openly racist, Clinton historically supported racist policies and young white people might not be too happy about sacrificing for the people who supported the woman that’s actively impoverishing them.

    Some people in the anti-racist scene seem to think of an “ally” as a friend or a slave. But if the interests are no longer aligned, I doubt the alliance would last.

  3. The Tragically Flip

    It reminds me a little of former Ontario conservative leader Tim Hudak’s proud campaign of “I will lay waste to the public sector” which was so mean and crass that voters returned to Wynne’s Liberals despite the obvious weariness with them and desire for change.

    A small part of me admired Hudak for not lying about his intentions, if he’d won voters would have very little cause to complain, as he was absurdly honest about what he was going to burn down. Hillary is not promising anything so extreme, but her theme of “no you can’t have your cherished goals, Democratic primary electorate” is quite amazing.

  4. Hugh

    I don’t know what to call it exactly. The Versailles effect? Living in an Establishment echo chamber where all you ever hear is the Conventional Wisdom from Serious People of your same class? I think entitlement pretty much says it all.

    I see Clinton as a classic Wilsonian liberal: corporatist (Senator and now Presidential candidate for Wall Street), interventionist (what many would call warmongering), anti-populist (she wouldn’t know an ordinary American if she tripped over one), and paternalistic (she knows better than thee and me, she’s PRAGMATIC, or as Nancy Pelosi once said, “They [i.e. us] are advocates. We are leaders.” Translation: shut up and eat your gruel.)

    Hillary Clinton designed her 2016 campaign as a coronation, as she did in 2008. The scary lesson here is that she doesn’t learn, she doesn’t adapt. She just doubles down, even on or maybe especially on, her mistakes. Iraq vote, Libya, anyone? Her campaign is floundering? No problem. She’ll just give us more of the same, but BETTER, of course.

  5. Pachacutec

    I see the trend, but I still think HRC is the favorite, albeit diminishingly so.

    The polls are uneven, and can be pretty unreliable anyway, as so much is in flux. And I would still expect a Clinton Camp rip cord strategy before the end of maybe an endorsement fro Obama and some surrogate attacks on Sanders’ age. It would be risky, but what would they have to lose? And if Obama thinks his legacy is on the line, he might jump in. There have already been hints.

  6. anonymous coward

    The more aggressive and dirty she gets the less people will like her. Not that they like her now, but you know what I mean. Her only way to deal with Bernie will drive her negatives to the moon.

  7. Jeffrey Miller

    Hillary’s campaign website was pretty clear on seeing Congress as a continuing obstacle to any progressive moves; basically her pitch was: We need the Supreme Court to turn before much movement is possible in federal policies.

    That said, she seems unambitious. “Vote for me and I’ll hold the line.”

  8. Tom

    Bernie I can swallow, I have serious misgivings on him, but he is better than Trump

    Ultimately, if its Trump vs Hilary, I vote Trump even though I hate the guy.

    Trump vs Bernie, Bernie all the way

  9. Brian

    The trend doesn’t look good for HRC, but it isn’t over until it’s over. We’ll see.

    Once we get to the general, I think things get tougher for Bernie if he does take the nomination for several reasons:

    1) By essentially having pulled off a hostile take over of the Democratic party, he’ll have badly alienated a lot of elites, elected officials, career politicos etc. The question is, do they play ball and support him in spite of that, or do they sit on their hands? They may collectively be mostly a bunch of assholes, but without their support it could get tougher.

    2) Sanders will face a massive onslaught from the right. They’ve left him alone until now but I doubt his favorable numbers hold up after months of non-stop screeching about socialism, how he wants to take away your hard earned dollars and give them to etc. Young people may be warming up to the idea of socialism a bit, but young people aren’t the only ones who vote (and tend to vote less) and for older Americans socialism is a dirty word.

    3) Both problems 1 and 2 will be exacerbated by the open hostility of the news media and punditocracy.

    Maybe he can overcome all this, but I think it’s a pretty heavy lift. In a Sanders vs Trump race I suspect Trump wins.

    That said, I don’t think HRC is “more electable.” She’s shown herself time and again to be an awful candidate with a political tin ear. I’m not sure she will do much better against Trump.

    Interesting times, to be sure.

  10. Daize

    @Tom; You are very far from being alone in that particular category it seems and that explains why Sanders does so much better than Hillary against the GOP. Personally I would hold my nose and vote Hillary, but I have never believed it would come to that since Sanders declared.

  11. As with the general election, the total of popular votes is unimportant. It’s about delegate count, and Hillary still has a considerable edge on that measure. Bernie is gaining, but he is by no means ahead, especially considering the superdelegates.

    Hillary is the candidate of “I am why you can’t have nice things.” Her pitch is not that simple, however, as she appeals to fear. “If you go with someone who tries to get you nice things he might fail, and then not only will you not have nice things, but the other side will give you ugly things.”

    She advocates the safe way, don’t try because if you do you might fail, appealing to fear, which is what this nation has become. Paul Krugman spells it out for her, “I advocate policies which can actually be implemented.”

  12. reslez

    Superdelegates can change their mind. There will be a ton of pressure on them not to go against the actual vote. Reporting them alongside election results is a talking point for Hillary. Of course, all of this can change in the next 10 days. If Sanders loses the next 2 states he’s done (unless it’s by a tiny margin).

  13. Greg T

    I agree with Ian in that things may get very interesting. Sanders still faces an uphill climb, but his campaign represents the economic interest of most voters. The longer he stays in, the more people like him. As a result, he’s dangerous to elites. ( see Lloyd Blankfein’s referral to the Sanders candidacy as ” a dangerous moment ” ). Hilary’s campaign faces intense pressure from her donor base to finish off Sanders now, once and for all. This early in the primary season , however, she doesn’t want to alienate the Sanders voters who she will need to win in November.
    If Sanders remains in the race as a viable threat, Pachachutec is correct, the heavy artillery will come out. Anything goes, including the prospect of super delegates handing the nomination to Mrs. Clinton, overturning the will of the voters. Bernie Sanders is unacceptable to elites as the Democratic nominee, and even if Hillary has to enter the general election as severely damaged goods, the Democratic elites would rather lose to a Republican than win with Bernie Sanders.
    There will be concurrent pressure on the Sanders campaign to yield to Hillary, rendering his campaign a ” sheepdog ” candidacy ( see Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report for details ), where the Democratic base gets fired up for Sanders only to have Sanders bow out and encourage his supporters to back Hillary Clinton in the general. This script, however, is getting played out. People are wise to it and it’s losing its effectiveness.

  14. Kris

    Clinton has a huge lead in superdelegates ((481-55; see Sanders has apparently not even contacted (some, possibly any) superdelegates whereas Hillary’s machine has been in league with them for years (most are DNC operatives, and Hillary is the DNC choice). I hope the Sanders campaign makes a huge noise about this as it’s completely undemocratic. I will certainly be contacting the superdelegates in my state.

  15. Ian Welsh

    If superdelegates actually swayed the primary to Clinton, she would lose the general.

  16. ekstase

    I almost get the feeling sometimes that people are afraid to hope. We need to hope. It is contagious and very powerful. If people could elect FDR and keep reelecting him, we can have a Sanders. A small minority of people running things never lasts; and if you look at it psychologically, that makes sense on both the side of the powerless and the side of their tormentors. Honest people cannot stand unending oppression. And the crazy people who want all the power, by definition, have made themselves up. At some point, they start to blow it, because putting on an act is never perfect. When the cracks in the veneer show up, they don’t really have a backup act.

  17. BDBlue

    Hillary Clinton designed her 2016 campaign as a coronation, as she did in 2008.

    Hugh, I don’t think I agree. I’ve too have found her campaign baffling, but I think I’ve decided that what she really has done is designed her campaign so she doesn’t lose to the same forces she did in 2008. Obama was essentially funded by hedgies and others on Wall Street. Essentially, as corporatist as she was, she wasn’t corporate enough and so they found some one else and backed him, denying her the nomination (with a dose of sexism, no doubt in the mix). So now, she goes full in with the very people who funded Obama, to prevent that from happening again.

    Indeed, so much of her campaign is a re-hash of Obama 2008. The running on biography. Being so light on policy specifics. More or less avoiding interactions with actual voters. This was O’s playbook. The problem, of course, is that it won’t work for her. First, because unlike Obama, she can’t even claim to be a blank slate (he wasn’t one, but people were willing not to look and you had to actually look). Second, it’s not 2008. Our problems are much, much worse and that’s to a large extent because Obama failed to address them. What else can all this anti-bank rhetoric be if not an indictment of Obama’s failure to deal with the banks post-crisis. She can’t split from O because 1) she was in his cabinet and 2) she’s afraid of alienating African Americans (indeed, the constant pretending by both Clinton and Sanders that Obama is some sort of wonderful progressive President in order to attract AA voters is one of the more unpleasant aspects to this election, IMO).

    So she’s running a re-hash of 2008 and re-hashes are never as good as the original, especially after 8 years of a terrible economy under a Democratic President instead of a Republican one. And she’s run into the kind of opponent that would cause the most problem to this type of campaign. Remember, she ran to Obama’s left on domestic issues in 2008 and got more votes than he did, so even in 2008 an O-type campaign was vulnerable from the left and Bernie, needless to say, is considerably to the left of where Hillary was in 2008.

    So I think what we’re seeing is a campaign that learned all the wrong lessons in 2008.

  18. Jeff W

    I almost get the feeling sometimes that people are afraid to hope.

    I agree with that.

    It feels to me like Clinton’s cramped “no, we can’t” message appeals exactly to those people. She’s actually affirming Sander’s message: the oligarchs, the billionaires, the kleptocracy—and the establishments of both parties—won’t allow what you might want. But, unlike Sanders, she offers no hope of empowerment—just some minor latitude within exceedingly tight constraints, some of which she seems willfully unaware of. It strikes me almost as a form of anti-leadership.

  19. Mallam

    Still don’t think Clinton ran to left of Obama. Where it mattered (Iran) she was considerably to his right, and it shows in this primary fight; Clinton is running far to the right of Obama on Israel (as if that’s possible). I also don’t agree domestically she was to his left. In the end I supported him over her because I thought he’d bring in new people. Seeing as they brought in the same for domestic operations, I imagine they’d have operated the same.

    She also didn’t win more votes, unless you count Michigan and Florida, and then don’t count caucus states. You have to really strain yourself to say she won the popular vote.

    Nonetheless, I think Axelrod said it well: “When the exact same problems crop up in separate campaigns, with different staff, at what point do the principals say, ‘Hey, maybe it’s US?'”

    I’m not a Sandernista, but I’m certainly voting for him on Super Tuesday just for the sake of potentially ending the Clintons’ poisonous influence.

  20. BDBlue

    She ran to his left on domestic issues, not foreign policy issues (which is not to say she ran left on domestic issues, just to Obama’s left, which wasn’t difficult to do). And Bernie is running to her left domestically, not as much on foreign policy, albeit he is to her left on foreign policy, but then most people are.

    I’m not saying it’s not Clinton. Indeed, I don’t think it is that hard to see why an Obama 2008 campaign would fail this time round, if that is indeed what she is doing.

    Also, nothing in my posts should be seen as endorsements of her because I don’t endorse her (or anyone else for that matter). I just tend to agree her campaign is confusing and am trying to figure out why she is running the way she is running.

  21. DMC

    Hell, Trump is running to Hillary’s left on at least some domestic issues. If I could be persuaded he really would fight for Single Payer healthcare and repeal NAFTA, well that’s more the Comrade Carebear managed in over 7 years.

  22. Escher

    As I recall 2007-08, Hillary was somewhat more hawkish on foreign policy and they were more or less indistinguishable on domestic policy; Obama got bonus points for having opposed the Iraq war and for not being Hillary Clinton.

  23. Mallam

    Correct, Escher, which is why I backed him over her. I’d need specific examples of her campaign promises that were to his “left” on domestic policy. They were fairly indistinguishable during the campaign (domestically). And then Obama brought in their (DLC) people anyway (Summers, Geithner, Rahm) — people who wanted to drop the ACA (Rahm) at the 90 yard line because of Scott Brown winning in MA.

    Anyway, irrelevant. She’s running to the left of where she ran in 2008 now, but no one believes her (for good reason). She’s making a dash to the right on FP (Israel, Syria), where she will always be no matter what the conditions on the ground; it’s just who she is. Not like Sanders is exactly a dove or anything. No one who wins the presidency would be dovish enough for me unless Henry Wallace continued on as FDR’s VP in 1944. He has made statements in the past of cutting the Pentagon in half (be still my beating heart if that ever happened, which it won’t) and eliminating US nuclear weapons, but that was back in the 1990’s.

  24. After Sister Souljah and welfare “reform,” I wonder that blacks support her.

    But I think her militarism is actually a plus, given the mood of the country. People want a war, damnit, and General Clinton feels like the woman to fight it. Certainly she’s going to come out fighting against the fascists and theocrats who dragged her family through the mud 20 years ago. And her feminism is sincere.

    Me, I think about her friendship with her mentor, that war criminal Henry Kissinger, and wonder that any Democrat would support her.

  25. Bruce Wilder

    Something of a revelation to me has been the sudden emergence of anti-Bern, Democrats-leaning pundits — and the particular arguments they make — I am thinking of Krugman of course and Ezra Klein and also a few less well-known examples like the young New Yorker correspondent Corey Robin singled out at Crooked Timber. Noah Smith and Mike Konczal loom large on my particular horizon because they have dismissed B’s “Glass-Steagall” bumper sticker.

    Partisans of Clinton are inevitable — a built-in feature. What was surprising to me, but maybe should not have been, was how readily they reversed previous lines of argument to declare themselves opposed to reform. Neither Clinton nor Sanders have elaborate policy plans. But, Sanders has a couple of “bumper stickers” that entail radical structural change to the economy: health care reform built around single-payer and financial reform built around some variation on Glass-Steagall separating different kinds of financial firms (commercial from investment banking from insurance).

    What surprised me — and I readily see in the same revelation that I should not have imagined otherwise — is that these people do not want fundamental reform of the system in which they have been successful. They have wanted to be identified as astute critics, to be identified with empathy and prosocial values.

    In the U.S. at least the system is holding together. The discontent is driven by the steady decline of real income hitting the middle even with unemployment low and gas prices low and war still a distant albeit constant background hum. But, elites are still doing well for themselves. Their insecurities are theoretical. The leftish elites, like the whole elite, want things to go on as they have, even as they protest policy as if it were a matter of taste and manners only.

  26. Jeff Wegerson

    The reason African-Americans support the Clintons is simple: they have shown that they can beat Republicans. Initially they even supported Hillary over Barack for that reason. When there was a solid European-American groundswell for Obama, they were confident enough to switch to him.

    Until Sanders shows that he can create a similar European-American groundswell, they will continue to support the Clintons.

    imho as an E-A.

  27. Escher

    Bruce Wilder,

    Yes, that’s been exactly my experience with upper class liberals, and it’s prominently on display this primary season.

    To borrow a phrase that’s been bouncing around certain corners of the internet lately, 90% of what goes on can be explained by vulgar Marxism.

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