Sal BiaseComment

Post 8 - Why Bernie Sanders Can Win A Contested Convention

Sal BiaseComment
Post 8 - Why Bernie Sanders Can Win A Contested Convention

So, Dear Readers, it has been a while. I blame my lack of writing solely on political exhaustion. Here we are, in the early days of May, and we still have a race going on for the Democratic Presidential nomination. The Republican race all but ended yesterday, as Ted Cruz suspended his bid for the GOP nomination. John Kasich is still in the race, but for all intents and purposes Donald Trump is the nominee (that is a sentence I had hoped I'd never have to type). Shockingly, and against all odds, Bernie Sanders still has a pulse in the Democratic race, as he took the state of Indiana from Hillary Clinton last night by 5 points. Polls had indicated all along that Bernie would lose, but again, the man found a way to pull off another upset. But, as we were reminded by the news media, the win doesn't matter... does it?

For the better part of the last 3 months, Hillary Clinton, her campaign, her surrogates and the Washington news media have made it abundantly clear that Hillary Clinton is the nominee in pretty much every way... except for the fact that she has yet to actually clinch the nomination by hitting the required pledged delegate total. And yet, while Bernie supporters have long been mocked for being unrealistic, naive imbeciles, who lack both a basic understanding of the way the world works and skills in simple arithmetic, his campaign continues to defy odds and his supporters remain committed and confident. Why? How can Bernie Sanders win when the math is SO against him? Lets break down how Bernie Sanders has forced a contested convention and why he has a very REAL chance at winning the Democratic nomination.

How we got here


As I mentioned above, Bernie Sanders supporters are used to being ridiculed for their bright-eyed optimism, but in reality they have no reason not to be optimistic. Even though the mainstream media outlets have avoid framing the narrative this way, Bernie Sanders has had an historic campaign. Remember, nearly 13 months ago when Hillary Clinton announced her campaign no Democrat was expected to mount any challenge. Publications like the New York Times anticipated one of the least contested primary races in history:

The announcement effectively began what could be one of the least contested races, without an incumbent, for the Democratic presidential nomination in recent history — a stark contrast to the 2008 primaries, when Mrs. Clinton, the early front-runner, ended up in a long and expensive battle won by Barack Obama. It could also be the first time a woman captures a major party’s nomination.
— NY Times (April 12, 2015)

Instead we have one of the most competitive races in history and a race that has more great story lines than we have ever seen. Look at what Bernie had to achieve just to reach this point. Hillary Clinton was one of the most well known and well liked political figures in America, if not the world. The Clinton political network if far-reaching, ruthless and very powerful. He has had to battle the Clintons, the DNC, voter suppression and his own obscurity.  Yet, on April 30th of last year, Bernie announced his bid and he has been giving the Clinton Machine fits ever since. 

That is no small feat. Bernie simply lasting this long is amazing when you consider on the day of his announcement he was polling at 3%...59% behind Hillary Clinton. Bernie is now polling neck and neck with Hillary nationally, while her favorability numbers have plummeted. So, while Bernie currently trails at pledged delegates, that gap is likely to shrink drastically in the upcoming contests. This isn't wishful thinking. Its a fact. Bernie already has an 8 point lead in the polls in West Virginia, a state that votes next week. He should blow out Hillary in Oregon in 2 weeks, followed by wins in the Dakotas and Montana all leading up to the June 7th showdown when the biggest Democratic prizes are up for grabs. It is very possible Bernie wins 6 of the remaining 9 primaries many by large margins. 

Supers, Contested Conventions, And The Argument For Bernie Sanders

The refrain that often gets thrown about is that "the math is against Bernie Sanders." This is true, Bernie needs to achieve the impossible in order to clinch the nomination, but no one talks about how 'the math'  is against Hillary Clinton as well. Neither candidate is going to reach the magic 2,383 pledged delegate number in order to secure the nomination. This ensures a contested convention. Whenever a Bernie supporter mentions a contested convention, swaths of Hillary fans come out of the woodwork to bombard them with statements like 'He can't win a contested convention,' and 'She already has the super delegates she needs to win,' blah, blah blah. Sanders supporters will reply 'We can flip the supers' and Hillary supporters get even more riled up. "It would be undemocratic for the super delegates to subvert the will of the people." Yea, we agree, but that is exactly what super delegates are there to do. Lets backtrack.

Way back in the beginning of the primary season Sanders supporters we're outraged at the idea that Hillary could have already secured the backing of nearly 500 super delegates before votes had even been cast. The DNC came out in defense of the super delegate system. Debbie Wasserman Shultz had this to say:

Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists.
— DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Since then Super Delegates have been included in nearly every report on delegate math. This has had a devastating effect on the race by obscuring how tight the race between Clinton and Sanders has actually been. There are two important factors we must remember when we talk about Supers. First, super delegates have not voted and they do not vote until the convention. While they may have said they support a specific candidate, they are not committed to anyone yet. Second, they are supposed to vote in the best interest of the party. Super delegates support Hillary today, but by the time the convention rolls around we could be looking at a very different democratic landscape. 

Bernie will be coming into the convention having won many states including a possible large win in California, with his poll numbers still climbing, ready to pitch himself to super delegates who need to consider the following information:

  • Bernie Sanders does better in national polls against the republican opposition than does Hillary Clinton.
  • Bernie Sanders has firm control over the future of the party. This is not a small thing. He absolutely destroys Clinton among those aged 45 and younger which has large ramifications for the future of the party.
  • Hillary Clinton is largely unliked. The trends seem to keep getting lower.
  • Hillary Clinton will be dealing with the fallout front he FBI's investigation, she may even be up for indictment.
  • Independent voters, disenfranchised voters, and new democrats with little loyalty like Bernie, dislike Hillary. This is a voter block that will not transition from Bernie to Hillary because many of these voters are only in the process because of the platform Bernie has brought to the forefront; a platform Hillary has already said she has no interest in adopting.

Bernie Sanders will get to make his case to the Democratic party at a convention that will be flooded with his grassroots activists from all over the country that are going to flock to Philadelphia. Party officials are going to be into a tough spot. If the Hillary's lead shrinks to, say, less than 100... or 50 or even less, Bernie will have all the momentum and all the enthusiasm going into the nominating process. The Party being so evenly split between the two candidates officials have to give careful consideration to which base it needs more, not just to beat Trump, but to grow and better the party. This brings us back to Super Delegates. If the roll of Super Delegates is to protect the party, then they would have to vote for Sanders.

Sanders brings millions of voters into the process who would would otherwise walk away. Sanders would invigorate the base of the party in a way similar to President Obama, but he would do so through activism and engagement. Bernie's voters have volunteered, they have donated, they have invented new ways to call and canvass, they are good at organizing and they are young. They are everything that a political party would want to build a future around. Would that be enough to sway the supers away from Hillary? I don't know, but to say its an impossibility is not just disingenuous, its downright false. All this, and we still haven't talked about how the party might not survive if Sanders' supporters feel slighted by the party or the process. If they feel the party is corrupt or in the bag for the establishment. Speaking personally, I am already considering changing from Democrat to independent. Many others want a whole new Progressive party to come into existence. A schism like that might be mocked and ignored by the Democrats now, but with out a large chunk of their youth voters, the party will be seriously hurting come the year 2024. It is something officials are already thinking about and will be focused on come July. 

I doubt if I have changed any hearts or minds with this piece, I am just trying to say Bernie can certainly win a contested convention. If he does, no one will be happier than me. Hit me up on twitter