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Listen, Superdelegates! What the Corporate Media and Mainstream “Experts” Refuse to Acknowledge: Bernie is vastly more popular with voters than Hillary

Listen, Superdelegates! What the Corporate Media and Mainstream “Experts” Refuse to Acknowledge: Bernie is vastly more popular with voters than Hillary

In July the superdelegates will determine who will be the Democratic Party nominee for president. If present patterns continue, expect Bernie Sanders to win most of the remaining primaries and caucuses, and, as in West Virginia, to do so in convincing fashion.

In theory, these superdelegates are supposed to overrule the voters if they think the leader is a poor candidate in November and would damage the party’s chances not only for the White House, but also downticket. It is the rationale for having such a decidedly anti-democratic intervention by party insiders and former officials who are now almost all corporate lobbyists on K Street.

If they do their job, a strong case can be made that Bernie Sanders is by far the best choice for the Democratic Party. If they dismiss or ignore this evidence, they do so at their peril. It is more than the fact that Bernie Sanders routinely and often dramatically outperforms Hillary Clinton in national and state-by-state match-ups with Donald Trump. It is also that her performance in the Democratic primaries has been far from convincing. In what follows I will explain.

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Hillary Clinton is a singularly unpopular candidate, whose unpopularity is such that she may do what was once thought to be impossible: get Donald Trump elected president even though a high percentage of Americans detest Donald Trump.

She has negatives in polling far beyond any successful presidential candidate since such polls began 50 years ago. Her only consolation is that Trump has similarly dismal scores.

People know her and it is all but impossible for her negatives to shrink at this stage of her career.

And despite what her followers claim about Bernie Sanders, Bernie has hardly attacked her at all this primary season. He has refused to discuss the email investigation, or the shady links between her conduct as Secretary of State and the large donations made to the Clinton Foundation. He has talked about the Goldman Sachs speeches and demanded the transcripts, but has never mentioned that Hillary did around 90 such talks between 2013 and 2015 that put $21 million into her bank account. No other active politician planning a run for president has ever done anything remotely close to a corporate shakedown tour like this before.

Wait until Donald Trump starts in on her, backed by $1.5 billion in SuperPAC money. Think the news media will continue to avoid ignore and discount her various scandals once The Donald starts in on them? Hardly. Trump plays the corporate news media/NPR like the first violinist in the Cleveland Symphony plays a Stradivarius.

There is a good chance her negatives therefore will go higher. And she will return fire with fire and her Wall Street-backed SuperPACs will run a barrage of their own ads on what a complete schmuck Donald Trump is. There is plenty of material to work with.  This type of mutually assured destruction will give the fall campaign the stench of the jockstrap bin in an NFL locker-room after a game played in 90 degree weather and all but guarantee a low voter turnout, which means younger and poorer Americans don’t vote. And that spells disaster for the Democrats up and down the ticket.

Why do I assert there is little popular enthusiasm for Hillary? She cannot do public rallies, because the turnout would be embarrassing. So she is reduced to staged events with invited and controlled small audiences. These look like real events when MSDNC and CNN show clips, but they are Potemkin Villages compared to Bernie’s thriving metropolis.

There is little evidence that active campaigning by Hillary does much to improve her support among voters. The more people see her, it seems the less they like her. She has wisely opted to sprinkle occasional controlled media events among her endless private fundraisers with the billionaire/millionaire crowd, and let the brave journalists at MSDNC, CNN, NPR, the New York Times, AP and the Washington Post advance her campaign aggressively. They comprise her true firewall. That approach may win her the nomination, but it depends upon Donald Trump imploding to be a route to success in November. It is drawing to the proverbial inside straight.

Here is one question her corporate media shills never have asked: Why has Hillary fared so poorly in the caucuses after her “landslide” victories in Iowa and Nevada? Many of these caucuses—all of which were victories for Bernie, generally massive blowout landslides—had unexpected enormous turnouts for caucuses with people overflowing from the venues. But Hillary’s supporters apparently are so unenthused they are not even willing to spend an hour or two showing their support. Better to let Sanders win than to waste more than a few minutes supporting Hillary? That says a lot, doesn’t it? Think those same people who sit out the caucuses are going to volunteer to canvas in September and October? Think again.

Bernie has an army of millions of volunteers ready to devote their lives to his November success and do whatever they can. And they will bring millions to the polls who will vote Democratic down ticket.

Yes, there are her many victories in the 2016 primaries. But how impressive are they, really? Recall that Hillary had a 40 or 50 point lead in virtually every state one year ago, except for Vermont and maybe one or two other states. She began the campaign as perhaps the single most famous active politician in the United States aside from Barack Obama. In large parts of the nation, especially the South, Sanders was mostly unknown. From that lofty perch, her numbers have simply gone down everywhere. And her actual campaigning has not done much to arrest the process.

She has won states in three general categories.

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First are those states that were early in the schedule and clumped together so it was virtually impossible for Bernie to campaign in each of them and raise his profile. These were not only the numerous Southern states that Hillary swept on the first Super Tuesday on March 1, but also important swing states like Ohio, Florida, Missouri and North Carolina that came up two weeks later.

What was striking was that the turnout in all of these races was generally 30-50 percent lower than the turnout in 2008, the last year for a competitive race on the Democratic side. This was an unprecedented collapse in turnout in most of these states that was nothing short of shocking. The average age of the voters was high, relative to the average age in other primaries and certainly in the general election, especially if the Democrats hope to win. In the swath of southern states that came early in the process polling suggested many of the voters had no idea who Sanders even was, and how would they, given the remarkable lack of media attention his campaign generated.

Very low turnouts worked for Hillary. Most new voters coming to the polls were voting for Bernie, so no reason to to sound alarm bells to get more people out to the polls. The DNC, under the indefatigable Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, seemingly internalized this approach, as, by all appearances, there was precious little effort by the party to aggressively register new voters. That will have to wait until Hillary has secured the nomination, when Democrats, by most accounts, will need to get a high turnout to win. Good luck with that, Debbie.

These mega-low-turnout and mega-low-enthusiasm states account for the majority of Hillary’s elected delegates. Most of these states are deep southern states that have not voted for a Democrat for president this century, and only rarely in the past 40 years. And right now, she would be in a stiff battle to win a single one of the swing states like Ohio, Florida, Missouri and North Carolina in November, based on the most recent polling.

So if Hillary gets the nomination it will be built upon a foundation of delegates won in extreme-low-turnout races in states the Republicans will win nearly all of come November.

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The second group of states Hillary has won is those states which had closed primaries so only registered Democrats would vote in them. This eliminated independents, arguably the largest and certainly the most important voting group in the nation, and the sector that will certainly determine who wins the November election. It also eliminated disproportionate numbers of prospective first-time voters, who are generally younger and poorer than those already registered to voter. These, too, are crucial constituencies for a Democratic victory in November.

Closed primaries are a residue of machine politics and indefensible. Political parties should be using primaries to attract and encourage new voters to join their ranks, not to establish a members-only club where party officials have whip-hand control. Not if they are serious about winning general elections.

These closed primary states all came at the end of April, as Bernie was on a long winning streak of landslide victories, topped by a crushing win in Wisconsin on April 5.

As fate has it, Bernie Sanders is the most popular candidate with independent voters in the race in either party. He is also the most popular candidate with voters under 30, perhaps 40 or 45, in either party. Scratch these voters from a primary and Bernie is going to have a very hard time winning. Especially in states like New York where voters had to switch their registration to Democratic fully six months before the primary to vote in the 2016 primary.

Bernie’s appeal to independents is something that does not compute for corporate media/NPR types, so they simply gloss over it. In the group think of the corporate media experts and people like Nate Silver, people on the left are Democrats, people on the right are Republicans, and independents are people wedged between them, often liberal on social issues but fiscally conservative.

By this unquestioned logic, one would expect the democratic socialist Bernie to dominate closed primaries as only lefty Democrats would vote, while poor pro-business, pro-military Hillary would not have all her centrist independent supporters able to vote for her. She wouldn’t have a prayer. She would be much stronger in a general election than in the activist-dominated Democratic primaries.

But this obviously has not been the case. Independents are only rarely wedged in the narrow space between Hillary Clinton and John McCain. They tend to be all over the place, and very often well to the left of both parties on numerous issues. That is why they tend to adore Bernie Sanders and have his entire career. They have a strong distaste for corruption and conventional political bullshit, and that is why Hillary finds herself decidedly unpopular with them.

So closed primaries are manna from heaven for Hillary. Too bad for her the general election is not restricted to registered Democrats, preferably over the age of 45.

To put this is context, Bernie won Wisconsin on April 5 with a massive 57-43 landslide. This was a crucial win for him, because history shows that no Democrat has won the White House since 1948 who did not win the Wisconsin primary. In fact, Wisconsin has voted for the Democratic Party nominee every year since 1960, except for the wild year of 1968, when Hubert Humphrey was not in the race or on the ballot. Wisconsin has always played the role, coming in early April, of deciding between the two finalists and picking the winner.

Wisconsin assumes that role because it is an open primary with same-day voter registration. Someone can walk up to the polls, register, and then pick whichever party they wish to vote in that day. This means Wisconsin voters, after having a few months to size up the field, tend to make smart informed choices. They engage. Wisconsin tends to have one of the highest turnout rates for primaries in the nation. And, by the way, they do not always pick the more liberal option; Wisconsin went for Kerry over Edwards, Clinton over Brown, Dukakis over Jackson and Carter over Kennedy.

But if Wisconsin had been a closed primary, and did not have same-day registration, Bernie would have had a difficult time winning Wisconsin, despite being immensely popular in the state. This would have been doubly true if Wisconsin had the sort of shenanigans that were commonplace in New York that barred legitimate voters from the polls.

That is the effect of closed primaries. In New York, Hillary Clinton’s home state, Bernie should never have had a chance on paper. After all, in his home state of Vermont Bernie clobbered Hillary with 86 percent of the vote! In 2008 in New York Hillary demolished Obama in New York by an even larger margin than she beat Bernie in 2016. But his enormous crowds at rallies across the state fueled speculation that he might do the impossible and defeat Hillary on her own turf. It now looks like some, perhaps many, of the people at those rallies were ineligible to vote. Had New York been an open primary with same day registration, Bernie may well have won New York. He certainly would have made it close. The same is true for Pennsylvania and he would have won Connecticut going away.

The fact is, Bernie has not won a single primary yet that has been closed.

So closed primaries that restrict same day registration are very good news for Hillary.

The bad news for Hillary is that the general election is not a closed primary, and all the other voters who could not pass through the turnstiles at a closed primary but can vote in November are far from enthusiastic about her.

Three closed primaries remain on the Democratic schedule in 2016, in Oregon, Kentucky and New Mexico. If Bernie wins any of them it can be seen as a sign that Hillary is continuing to weaken.

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The third type of primaries (and caucuses) that Hillary has won is the five states that were virtual ties—Iowa, Nevada, Massachusetts, Missouri and Illinois. Bernie had one of these virtual tie states in Michigan. In all these states the delegates were split almost evenly. In Nevada and Iowa, as well as the other Hillary “victory” states, the local Democratic Parties were moving heaven and earth to get her victory, and these are not parties that are necessarily known for their commitment to the ethics of the Marquess of Queensberry.

Regrettably, except for some superb local journalism, Hillary’s corporate media/NPR firewall had no interest in examining the nature of these elections, or simply calling them ties, even in absurd cases like Iowa and possibly Missouri where Bernie may well have won the popular vote. Instead these were presented as unequivocal and decisive Clinton victories. This is important because each of these states came at crucial times in the narrative and allowed Hillary’s media firewall to cast the election as one where Hillary had won enormous and crucial victories, and in every case these “victories” were presented as being clear evidence that Sanders had little hope to win the nomination.

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So that is the roster of victories Hillary has secured in the 2016 primary/caucus season. She can only win the nomination thanks to the unelected delegates in Philadelphia.  If these superdelegates do their job honestly—a Grand Canyon sized “if”—Bernie will get a fair hearing and real evidence will be considered about who will do best by the party come November, and long into the future.

In that case the evidence is clear: the superdelegates would vote for Bernie and recognize that he is the future of the party and the country. He is returning the party to its New Deal past with unprecedented support from Americans under the age of 30, and powerful support from Americans under the age of 45. (If Hillary Clinton had youth support like Bernie has, the corporate news media would be beside itself assessing the incredible phenomenon. Live coverage of her massive rallies would be de rigueur. Because it is Bernie, this issue gets brief mention and is then skipped over. Few Americans know that almost anywhere in the country, several times a week, Bernie gets a crowd from 7,000-20,000 on less than 72 hours notice.)

But if the superdelegates do hand the nomination to Hillary, they should not assume that Bernie’s supporters are sheep who can be herded by corporate media jawboning into supporting her campaign. They are “beyond your command,” as the sage once sang. There is going to be a sense of outrage to what many will regard as an illegitimate outcome of a rigged system. Many Bernie supporters will in fact end up voting for Hillary, and, as an old-timer living in a swing state, I will likely be one of them. That depends upon how it plays out in the next few months.

But one suspects countless others will possibly pull the lever for Trump or, more likely, simply tune out electoral politics altogether. And if they do, it will be for understandable reasons. The Democrats Party will have lost a generation in 2016, and perhaps forever. If the superdelegates go to Philadelphia convinced Bernie was a fluke and that all will return to business-as-usual come August, they have been paying too much attention to their pals in the corporate media and far too little to what is happening on the ground in this country.

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