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Definitely NOT Over

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.

Feel the Bern?

Feel the Bern?

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.

No one votes this way anymore, but we like the image of doing so.

No one votes this way anymore, but we like the image of doing so.

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.

We all know they are better together.

We all know they are better together.

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.

Yes, this is the worst picture of Ted Cruz I could find.  Sue me.

Yes, this is the worst picture of Ted Cruz I could find. Sue me.

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.

13 thoughts on “Definitely NOT Over

  1. I do so hope Kasich stays in the ring – I hope that those who are ‘favoreds’, if ignored by their parties, Can and CHOOSE to run independent – cuz seriously – I really hate leaving the top spot unchecked, because, I never, even the years I didn’t vote (gasp, go ahead – let the jump all over TamrahJo fun begin…) believed my vote didn’t count – I simply wasn’t willing to spend my one vote on the lesser of two evils that I tried hard to find one shred of redeeming qualities for to make my decision – LOL – 🙂
    I still, sometimes, get confused about the whole process, and seriously, my only up-close and personal experience is by staunch Republican running for local office, who I believed in, so much, that I donated my time, website skills, etc., who was told he could switch to Independent, if he did so by a certain point – he has run twice (for all I know, is gearing up for a 3rd in the future) – and both times, he ran as Republican, he brought so many extra Democrat and Independent voters to the polls on election day, that the uptick in new/not-my-alma-mater party people who showed up and said, “YES! We want him” even though he stands firm on issues that are not along ‘their’ party line, but they understand why he’s holding on to them – cuz he writes real copy, runs a transparent campaign, and holds town hall style meetings where ever he can, Pizza Parlor, local dew drop inn – and doesn’t shirk the hard questions – and no opponent ever wants to debate him – though he even lets them have a lot leeway in “Da Rules” –

    So yes, I get ticked over the systems/etc., in place – cuz I would have been proud to have him in office, he would have made a change, and I would have found a way to work for him for $1/year – because he would have made things better – for everyone! 🙂

    Thanks for listening – 🙂 sorry I blogged in your comments section….

    • It’s all good – I ramble a bit too, ya know. 🙂
      The Two Party System is really strange, if you think about it at all. A national “primary” would make a lot of sense. But this all involves some major changes in the Constitution that most sane people don’t want to get into right now.
      How do we get good people into office? It’s hard. They have to care about the party enough to move it in their direction, and that’s a terribly “corrupting” process no matter what. It changes people – mostly making them a lot more cynical. Then again, real political skill is a good thing, IMHO, and teaching that can only improve the process.
      There is a lot to think about. Our strong executive bothers me at the core, for one, and I would love to have a “cabinet government” as I outlined some time ago with a broad array of elected executives. That would be more interesting and more open.
      A lot to think about here.

      • Q: “How do you eat an elephant?”
        A: “One bite at a time” – 🙂

        IMHO – The trouble is, we are an advanced, civilized society, which, in many areas, keep ever grander things, that have, a foundation of sand, and when the top of the pyramid layers start to crack, cuz we didn’t lay/locate the foundation right, we don’t just change the angle, say, “Okay, well…that’s a problem, well, Here’s the bent one – I’m off to better scope out the next foundation we are going to invest time and energy on – and see if I learned anything, get it right next time:)

        Nope, instead, we try to pretend we can keep adding granite stone, not change the angle, etc., ever higher and grander, on a foundation of sand – or a middle layer of sand that fixed a short-term problem, a few (or many) layers ago, and then get all ticked off when the whole thing collapses or is busted back to lower levels, and look for who we can blame – 🙂

        Please know, I do this in areas, too – I’m not thinking everyone but me does this – fortunately, my oopsies usually hurt me the most and not 6 billion other affected spheres of influence – so, I’m a little more loosey-goosey with, okay then, learned some, but I’m not going to waste a lot of time/energy trying to CYA, explain why it’s not my fault, at all, whatsoever, and continue to spend lots of time trying to convince everyone else I’m star-spangled awesome and they just need to get with the program of bent pyramids – cuz ya know, it’s in fashion this year….and by gummy, I swear, you told me you WANTED a bent pyramid – I have pollsters and statisticians who tell me so – I don’t care that you gave up on me and blocked their phone calls – 🙂

        The (continuing) challenge of any advanced society is, to my mind, and paraphrased, from a quote that impacted me years ago when I watched the “Prophets of Doom” – (yeah, not end of days, they just brought together leading experts in their various fields that pose some issues that affect/influence us all – from soil health, to water, to the advancement of AI and what robotics advancements really mean and what we’re afraid of and what we aren’t even paying attention to as the real issue…. I like to scope out prophets, I’m fine discarding when I can say, “Um, yeah, good luck with that, but seriously, EVEN I KNOW that’s BS and I haven’t had time to become an expert in your arena – but you misinterpreted the basic math and you completely ignored these 14 articles that are widely available to tell you – that’s so 1980s ago- )

        (ramble – back to the paraphrased quote…)

        “yeah – I drive a car – I own a car – but if you pick me up, drop me in the middle of a massive old junk yard , you think I’ll be able to build one that works? From what’s readily available to me? Probably not – and that’s our (and civilization’s) greatest vulnerability -”

        I’d like to see THAT quote/idea as a bullet point on a ‘trending’, video, commercial, 30 second political sound byte during an election year –

        alas – still waiting 🙂 Cuz ya know – all the pollsters will tell folks –

        TamrahJo is too dumb to sit and listen for more than 2.5 seconds – her attention span – she has no memory of 6 months ago 30 years ago, 3,000 years ago and don’t try to tell her about it – You’ll lose her and now – – – Doom & Gloom for you – you’ll never win if you keep doin’ that stuff….”


      • I’ve written about a lot of that before! It is a critical part of our world – not understanding half of what’s going on around us. It’s why people get so angry all the time, IMHO.

  2. On the subject of Democratic polls vs the open-state dynamic, there is another thing to consider. Continuing with Michigan as the example, the half dozen Michigan-Democrat polls in the same week leading up to the primary ranged from +11% to +37% for Clinton[1]. In other words, besides whatever consistent bias came from the open-state effect, the variability was a good bit more than the ~5% margin of error implied by the ample sizes. This suggests there are other methodological flaws in the polls besides the effect of independents. Looking ahead to Ohio, for instance [2], you see similarly wild variation.

    [1] polls leading up to michigan democrat primary

    [2] Ohio polls

    • You have a good point – there may be more problems. The short answer is that we can’t really trust the polls.
      What we do know is that they have consistently under-estimated Sanders’ support. Are they hitting up cell phones and/or reaching young people and traditional non-voters adequately? What models are being used to estimate likely voters? Are they asking people if they plan to vote, for example?
      You are right, there are probably other problems deep in these polls. The fact that the results among self-identified Democrats was about right from the poll-of-polls in Michigan tells me that the main bias came from the open primary. But it would be crazy to say that this is the only effect, yes.

  3. It is over, I don’t care what they say. Sanders is behind and will only be more behind – what more do they want? If he is going to catch up he better get started quickly.

    • Next Tuesday we’ll know for sure. If the polls are at all right (and I’m really not sure right now) it will be a huge sweep for Clinton. The gap will go from 200 to 450+.

  4. I ramble all the time just like my friend Tom Paine:

    THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

  5. In January, 1820, Congress passed two bills that, together, became known as the Missouri Compromise. Maine was admitted to the Union as a free state. Missouri was admitted as a slave state, although slavery would be prohibited north of a 36-30 line (southern border of Missouri) in the western territories of the Louisiana Purchase—Missouri would be an exception to the line.

    Thomas Jefferson in a 4/22/1820 letter to John Holmes had this to say: “…but this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed indeed for the moment, but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated, and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.”

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