Don’t you just love this sort of click-bait, faux journalism?
Ok, it’s actually a blog post, so I guess it can side-step the literal definition of the word journalism. That, and it’s HuffPo, so liberal doses of skepticism-salt are ok and maybe even recommended.
This isn’t a personal attack on Mr. Leopold. I actually find myself in agreement with many of the points he makes. He just fails utterly to make any kind of case for his headline.
No, She Shouldn’t and She Won’t
I find Mr. Leopold’s framing and his argument for why Hillary should drop out to be both extremely weak and fatally flawed, beginning with his opening two sentences:
“The Democratic Party must nominate the candidate with the best chance of defeating Trump. If Bernie wins California, Hillary is not the best candidate.”
The opening sentence itself is actually a logical fallacy. It’s what’s known as a loaded question, in this case in the form of a statement of fact.
No, the Democrats don’t have to nominate the candidate with the best chance of defeating Trump, they only have to nominate a candidate who can defeat Trump.
If we’re to believe polls, Hillary or Bernie can beat Trump, although as this is being written on May 22, 2016, RealClearPolitics’ poll averages show Trump and Hillary in a virtual tie with Trump having a 0.2 point lead. That’s not, in my book, a case for Hillary quitting even if she doesn’t win California.
- Do polls show Bernie as able to beat Trump by wider margins? Yes.
- Can you find polls that show Trump winning against either candidate? While more so against Hillary, the answer is still, Yes.
- Are polls elections? No.
Avoiding Some History
The other thing I noticed is what I think is relevant history that Mr. Leopold doesn’t mention in his cursory review of history.
He doesn’t talk about where Hillary was relative to Obama in 08 and where Sanders is relative to her now.
She beat Barack in CA in 2008, but it’s not about that state. That was 8 years ago, and the CA primary was in February that year. State schedule changes make calendar comparisons almost impossible.
Instead, I think the two races have a lot to tell us about where they were coming down the home stretch.
Hillary, like Sanders, stayed in to the end in 2008. The thing to note is that she was much closer to Obama than Sanders is to her now and at a similar point in the entire process. I just wonder if anyone was suggesting that Obama drop out after Hillary, “….won convincingly in primaries in West Virginia on May 13, and Kentucky on May 20.”
What makes Mr. Leopold’s suggestion even more curious to me is that as of today Hillary is projected as the winner in CA. He seems to be suggesting a course of action based on an outcome with only a 7% chance of even being a win for Bernie, let alone the kind of nearly impossible landslide Sanders would need for it to even matter as the basis for the case for Hillary to step down.
Could California go to Bernie? Sure, nothing is impossible. But even if that were to happen, and even if you combined that with all the other valid points Mr. Leopold makes, the very idea that the front-runner would drop out over a primary state loss even as big as California is laughable.
Lest we’ve forgotten, Democratic primaries are not winner-take-all. Hillary will get a proportion of delegates from California even in the event that Bernie were to win and even if Bernie were to win in a big and unprecedented landslide.
As of today, May 22, 2016, the counts are:
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, Hillary is at 108% of being on the track to victory while Bernie is at 92% of what he needs to secure the nomination.
And, as Philip Bump points out in his May 18th Washington Post piece:
As it stands, using delegate counts from Daniel Nichanian and estimates for Tuesday’s contests from the Green Papers, Sanders needs to win 67 percent of the remaining pledged delegates in order to pass Clinton by the time voting ends. The vast majority of those delegates — about three-quarters of them — come from California and New Jersey, states where Clinton currently leads. Sanders needs big wins in both of those states or a giant win in California, which would require a stunning shift in the relatively static pattern we’ve seen so far in Democratic voting.
Could it happen? Sure, it’s possible; not plausible, but possible.
Would Hillary step down even if it did? No, and it’s nonsensical to even suggest such a thing.
When Did Votes Not Matter?
“Oh, I hear the groans aplenty. Hillary won the most votes. Hillary has the most delegates.”
Is it me, or is Mr. Leopold waving aside the fact that this is how elections work?
Don’t hate me (don’t hate anyone), but why is it so hard to understand and accept that, conspiracy theories notwithstanding, Democrats voted in greater numbers for Hillary?
Since Mr. Leopold brings this up, let me offer a little friendly advice and a condolence to my fellow Sanders supporters and Independents; if you got to vote in a primary without having to register with a Party, consider yourselves lucky that some states let you participate in a Party’s process at all.
It’s their club, and I think you should be grateful you got to influence the outcome if for no other reason than you’re not actually one of them. Yes, I know, neither is Sanders. He just conveniently chose to become one because he’s smart enough to know that it was the only way to reach American voters. With nothing but respect and admiration for the Green Party, the only way to even influence American voters is by being a politician in one of the two major parties.
I had to change my affiliation from Non-Partisan to Democrat so I could play the game in PA to vote for Bernie in the primary. You know what? I’m ok with that. It’s their club.
So, if you didn’t have to register with a Party, you got to vote for Bernie in your state’s primary, *AND* you’re still complaining, I don’t get it.
I Could Go On, But…
There are a few other things I could get into more detail on in Mr. Leopold’s blog, but I’ll start wrapping up with this:
- Mr. Leopold’s approach to cherry-pick data while claiming not to be cherry-picking data even as he claims 3 polls constitute a worrisome pattern for Hillary’s supporters is, I think, cherry-picking. Hillary and her supporters have more to worry about than what voters in a state she’ll never win like Arizona think about her now.
- He seems to be arguing that Hillary is more vulnerable than Bernie to “unprincipled assaults” as if “unprincipled assaults” are something other than unprincipled. I suppose the implication is that “unprincipled assaults” will miraculously stick to HRC but bounce off of Bernie. I’m not sure what point he’s trying to make, but Hillary and her supporters have plenty of principled assaults they can expect from Trump and the GOP to worry about if and only if Trump and the GOP machine are able to resist the temptations to indulge in the salaciously unprincipled ones. I’m betting they can’t, and they won’t.
Click-bait vs The Kagan Clan
It’s not only ludicrous to suggest that Hillary step down if Bernie wins California, it’s an insult to the intellect of anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to this campaign and to American politics at all and at any point in time.
If Mr. Leopold and the “journalists” at Huffington Post were going for a headline likely to generate clicks, well, mission accomplished. I guess that’s one measure of success.
Now, if anyone is interested in reasons why Hillary ought to drop out – or at least to get a view of what may come from her presidency – then I suggest this post, “The Dreadful Kagan Clan——Hillary’s Warmongers In Waiting,” from David Stockman.
BTW, she’s not dropping out no matter what.
Additional reading / sources:
Who’s On Track for the Nomination; FiveThirtyEight.com
CA primary forecast; FiveThirtyEight.com
Clinton Success Changes Dynamic In Delegate Hunt; New York Times, March 6, 2008
(for historical context)
Democratic Party presidential primaries, 2008
Sanders Vs. Clinton Vs. Obama Vs. Clinton: The 2016 primary in context