One week ago, Barataria asked if it was over. “It” meaning the Democratic presidential primary season and “over” meaning decided. The theory was that unless Sanders won at least a few of four key states on Super Tuesday everyone would write his political obit.
He won three of them – and this week a big surprise in Michigan. Combined with the death match in the Republican Party we have an unusually fascinating endorsing season ahead of us as both contests will definitely run through to the convention floors.
But what that is likely to mean is something very different in the case of both parties. One will be fighting to not lose and the other may wind up fighting to not win.
Sanders’ win in Michigan, close as it was, rocked the established view of the Democratic race. Despite making some progress on Super Tuesday he was still far behind Clinton in delegates – not counting the superdelegates. Nearly everyone thought that this was, more or less, over.
The reason it seems so impressive is that Sanders came back from polls showing him down by as much as 20 points on the eve of the election. With so many people making up their minds for Sanders at the last minute he clearly has strong momentum, right?
Wrong. People who bother to vote never make up their minds at the last minute. Busted polls are nearly always about a flawed assumption as to who will turn out.
In this case, pollsters asked people if they were Democrats before asking them who they would vote for. Bad move. Clinton did indeed win Democrats 57-42 (a solid 15 point win) but with an open primary where anyone can vote the flood of independents turned the state to Sanders. That’s pretty much what happened.
Naturally, strong supporters on both sides can debate the validity of having an open primary, but the truth of it is that there are very few of them left. Barataria will try to note when they come up so we can look at the polls with a jaundiced eye. But this still will come down to the next contests on 15 March that include longtime fave “swing state” Ohio and critical election state Florida. Both are clearly leaning heavily for Clinton and both are closed primaries.
Then again, in some ways this doesn’t really matter. Win or lose, Sanders will take this to the convention – if for no other reason than to make a point. Clinton may be forced to make him Veep after all this in order to unify the party, though even this effect is easy to over-estimate. At this stage eight years ago half of all Clinton supporters said they would never vote for Obama – and probably every one of them did by November.
Party unity will still be important, however, which is why Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would be such an interesting pick for Veep. We will know later where all of this is going, but without a big-state win on 15 March it really will seem over but the shouting – and there will still be a lot of shouting.
It’s much more interesting over on the Republican side, assuming that you find blood sports more amusing than a chess game. OK, everyone does, so this is a given. The Republican contest has become that car crash that you just can’t look away from, the wrestlemania fandom we would be embarrassed to admit and the crazy uncle who makes Thanksgiving so much not-fun all rolled into one.
The way Cruz keeps winning there’s a good chance that this will continue this way, too.
Where it comes to delegates, Trump leads Cruz by 458 to 359 – less than a hundred. But Trump is losing to not-Trump by a solid 219 votes, 458 to 677. This means that as it stands now the convention will not produce a nominee on the first ballot – which is the only ballot where the delegates are forced to vote for who sent ‘em. After that it becomes a “brokered convention”, which is to say that delegates are bought and sold by brokers.
Kidding! Kidding! Even Republicans wouldn’t do that – at least not openly. No, they will trade back and forth and make a deal of some kind so that not-Trump has a name, possibly “Rafael” something or the other unless they can possibly avoid it.
Where this gets fun is when Trump sets off to run as an independent or something like that. No matter what, a “backroom deal” will look bad even if the eventual candidate is someone actually qualified for the office who doesn’t immediately offend people, such as Kasich. How is he still in the mix? He might yet win his home state of Ohio, keeping this contest as balled up as it possibly can be.
Yes, this one will go to the convention – and possibly beyond. It’s already gone pretty far outside of the normal space-time continuum in a lot of ways, so why not?
No, this isn’t over. It won’t be over until November at the earliest. Make a lot of popcorn.