Wednesday, February 12, 2020


How lucky is Bernie Sanders? This lucky: If Amy Klobuchar hadn't had a widely praised debate performance last week, she wouldn't have experienced a surge in support among New Hampshire moderates and Pete Buttigieg would probably have beaten Sanders on his home turf.

Sanders got just under 26% of the vote. He leads Buttigieg by less than 2. The Washington Post tells us, "Youth turnout in the state declined from 2016 to 2020 from 19 to 14 percent."

How much did Sanders underperform? This much:

Where was his voter surge? Where did his 2016 voters go?

I was going to write about what happens next, but Rachel Bitecofer said most of what I wanted to say:

Right -- Sanders could be beaten by one moderate, but Buttigieg, Biden, Klobuchar, and eventually Bloomberg all have motivation to stay in, and all will probably be splitting the non-progressive vote through Super Tuesday. Klobuchar might have dropped out soon if she'd finished well behind the leaders in New Hampshire. Now she's probably postponing the inevitable -- and Buttigieg missed his chance to score a victory that might have given him momentum. Oh, and Tom Steyer is starting to poll in double digits in South Carolina and Nevada, so he'll dilute the anti-Sanders vote even more, all while Elizabeth Warren (probably) continues to underperform. (She seemed poised to draw more voters from Sanders, but he seems to be the progressive category killer -- if you're progressive, you probably see him as the clear preference. He's Amazon -- why shop anywhere else?)

FiveThirtyEight now says that Sanders has a 38% chance of winning a delegate majority before the convention -- but thinks there's a 33% chance no candidate will win a delegate majority. However:
[Sanders] also has a 52 percent chance of a pledged delegate plurality.
If no one has a delegate majority, I think most Democrats will want the candidate with a plurality to be the nominee, assuming the candidate has a decisive lead. That will seem like simple fairness. But the party and most pundits will look for a way out. You'll hear about a Draft Hillary movement. You'll hear about a Draft Kerry movement. You'll hear about a Draft Michelle movement. Michelle won't want to do it, and even if Hillary and Kerry say they'd consider a draft, both options will poll poorly. This could be another opportunity for collective action, but Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Biden, and possibly Steyer and Klobuchar will all insist on being the consensus brokered-convention nominee, and no one will yield. Meanwhile, the Sanders voters will declare the process rigged, which will be an accurate description of what's being attempted but not an accurate description of what's being accomplished, because Democrats simply won't be able to rig the convention successfully.

So, as I foresaw last week, Sanders is the clear favorite, even though he's more beatable than he seemed to be a week ago, and even though he could easily fail to amass a clear majority of the delegates by convention time.

No comments: