"But do you really think even if the DNC makes this compromise that Sanders supporters will vote Blue in the General Election?"
My answer is, yes, because part of that deal will be that Sanders rallies his supporters behind Clinton.
Sanders supporters talk a big game about how they won't back Clinton even if Sanders tells them to do so, but we can also look at a similar situation that happened in 2008 and see how those sentiments will eventually play out. Let's check polling data for how Clinton supporters (so-called PUMAs) felt about Obama at this time in the 2008 elections versus how Sanders supporters feel about Clinton now. A CNN exit poll conducted in May 2008 indicated that Clinton supporters would support Obama over McCain by 48-34. Gallup polled the same group before the Democratic Convention and found that support for Obama had improved to about 70%. By the time the convention was done it was over 80%. We can credit Clinton's "No Way, No How, No McCain" speech for that ten point rise. Eventually Clinton supporters backed Obama over McCain, 83-17.
As of this week, Clinton has 69% support amongst Sanders supporters, and their underlying sentiments are mostly hostile towards Trump. Sanders's job of getting his supporters to back Clinton is somewhat easier than Clinton's job was getting her supporters to back Obama. If we presume that Sanders knows (a) he won't be the nominee and (b) his legacy will be in how he makes the Democratic Party more progressive, then it's reasonable to assume that he'll conclude that a Clinton Presidency is better for his legacy than a Trump Presidency, and that he will, therefore, be one of Clinton's best advocates during and after the convention.
So, with those hard criteria in mind, if Clinton is going to pick a sitting Senator for her VP nominee, who should she pick? The ideal candidate would be a popular progressive from a purple state with a lot of electoral votes, who can also stand up to the pressures of a Presidential campaign. That's quite an ask, but I think we have three good candidates for the job: Mark Warner, Claire McCaskill and Al Franken. Of those, Al Franken would be, by far, the most popular choice, and I think it makes the most sense for Clinton to give him the opportunity.
( Click for the details! )
1_ In his 1971 memo to Nixon, Buchanan advocated a wedge-issue, culture-war strategy.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 12, 2016
2) He warned it would "cut the Democratic Party & country in half;" but that "my view is that we would have far the larger half"— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 12, 2016
3) Trump is now implementing this same strategy, updated for the times, but doesn't seem to realize he has the far smaller half.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 12, 2016
4) And remember Nixon had Wallace to play the role of Trump, which made it very easy to position himself as reasonable.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 12, 2016
This is a particularly on-point observation by Hayes, especially given Pat Buchanan's calls for the GOP to unite behind Trump or risk losing to Hillary Clinton.
Clinton: Alabama, American Samoa, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia.
Sanders: Colorado, Minnesota, Vermont.
I think Sanders will perform worse than expected tomorrow. He needs a win in Massachusetts and the polling says that it just isn't there. Recent polls have showed Sanders doing well in Oklahoma, but those polls are VERY recent, and I'm not convinced they reflect reality.
Obama won more delegates than Clinton on Super Tuesday 2004. That won't happen this year, and Sanders will continue to fall behind Obama's 2008 pace. This won't be the end of the Sanders campaign by a long shot, but it will be the end of any serious discussion of Sanders being the next Obama. Clinton knows this, and she's already started focusing on her campaign against Donald Trump.
Cruz: Arkansas, Minnesota, Texas.
Trump: Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia.
Cruz is kicking ass in his home state of Texas, and that's bleeding over into the somewhat culturally similar state of Arkansas. He had a good showing in Iowa, which I think will also pan out in neighboring Minnesota. But the bottom line is that Donald Trump is crushing the competition everywhere else. I think he will finish tomorrow night with enough outright 50%+ wins to build an insurmountable delegate lead.
Once Trump becomes the clear winner, the GOP establishment will then be faced with a dilemma: whether to embrace a Trump/Cruz ticket with no establishment anchoring whatsoever, or try to foist Rubio on the Party in a brokered convention and risk Trump running as a third party candidate. If I were them, I'd back Trump. There is no good scenario now that will win the White House for the GOP. However, a two-major-candidate race at least gives the GOP a chance to save the Senate. A three-major-candidate race would doom the GOP in the Senate, and could cost them the House and many state legislatures.
A few weeks ago the thought of this match-up would have given me, as a partisan Democrat, great comfort. The conventional wisdom is that a Trump candidacy would be a trash fire to herald the demise of the GOP, because the voters would realize what a terrible, racist, fascist candidate he is, and he would lose in a landslide.
There's a lot of hyperbole in there, so let's straighten some things out.
First of all, disastrous elections do not sink political parties in America. Neither Wendell Willkie nor Barry Goldwater could sink the GOP permanently; the Democrats managed to survive Walter Mondale. In fact, the only thing that could sink one of the two political parties would be for the party to self-destruct over an issue, the way the Whigs did in 1860 over slavery, and the way the Democrats almost did in 2000 over the environment. So, even if Trump is an electoral disaster, the GOP will continue, even if they have to do some soul-searching to do it.
More importantly, I'm no longer convinced that Trump would be an electoral disaster. Check out the aggregate head-to-head polls of Trump v. Clinton; it shows Clinton beating Trump by only four points.
But what's really scary is what happens when you only include the polls with likely voter ("LV" for short) models. By way of background, polls with LV models only include registered voters that they believe are likely to participate in the general election, either because the voter participated in past elections, or because the voter meets a demographic profile. They tend to present a better picture of the general election outcome than Registered Voter ("RV") or voting-age adults models. And here's the thing, kids: when you only include LV polls in your aggregate, Trump leads Clinton by two.
(For what it's worth, Sanders ties Trump in LV polls, which may mean that the GOP just hasn't had enough time to go negative on him yet.)
Now, here's my prediction for tomorrow's primaries:
GOP Nevada Caucuses: Trump
Democratic South Carolina Primary: Clinton
In South Carolina, Trump will win the primary, easily.
In Nevada, Clinton will win again, but it's going to be VERY close.
The rest <= 3
Obviously Trump still leads the pack by a lot, but notice with whom Bush is sharing tier two: Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz. Everyone else falls to tier three or four. Of these, Fiorina had the most impressive gain, going from the loser's table to a dead heat with Bush.
As for the Democrats:
No surprises here. Clinton has tier one to herself, Sanders has tier two to himself. The rest are all tier three.
The GOP Presidential candidate field, which has seventeen candidates right now, is looking like dinner time at the Duggar residence, with all the unfortunate mess that entails. Fortunately I think we can establish a formal pecking order rather quickly by looking at polls and other factors. For convenience sake, let's divide them in to tiers one through four:
FIRST TIER: Serious contenders
SECOND TIER: Also-rans
THIRD TIER: Side shows
FOURTH TIER: Small potatoes, can ignore.
So, let's break them down.
FIRST TIER: Jeb Bush, Donald Trump. They're the only ones consistently polling in double digits, and depending on the poll, they exchange leads. Jeb has a hell of a lot of PAC money ($100M or so), where Trump has his considerable personal fortune ($4B according to Fortune, $10B+ according to his campaign paperwork). Right now Trump temporarily has the lead in Pollster.com's aggregate polls of the GOP candidates, with 22% to Jeb's 14%.
Jeb has a huge advantage in that he looks and sounds Presidential, even when someone throws him a curve ball. He can also appeal to the Latino vote, probably as well as Rubio or Cruz could.
Trump has a huge advantage in that he appeals to the Republican base. While others try to appeal to the base with "dog whistle" language, he just comes right out and says what the base wants to hear, and the base loves it. The rest of America DOES NOT love it, and this is driving down opinions of the GOP to the point where the Democrats have temporarily regained the lead in public opinion. This also poses a serious problem for most of the rest of the candidates, who normally could gain temporary advantage by siphoning off some of the batshit crazier right voters of the base. Now that Trump is consolidating the batshit vote, the rest of the field is fighting for scraps.
In all honesty, Trump is a third tier candidate who's made it to the first tier by the power of spectacle. By all rights the GOP should be able to change the rules and cast him away. However, he has promised to use his enormous personal fortune and media presence to launch a third party run if they do this. Such a run would be a disaster for the GOP. So they're stuck with him, and so he remains in the first tier.
SECOND TIER: Scott Walker. Walker is the only other candidate to poll in double digits, and he's only managed to do so recently. His advantages are that he's charming, has a lot of Koch Brothers money, has proven that he can win tough elections in normally blue states, and has done a lot of things that the GOP base really likes (on abortion, taxes, guns, and most especially rolling back labor rights). The downside is that the Democratic base intensely hates him, the same way the Republican base intensely hates Hillary Clinton. His best advantage, however, is that in a field that's being starved out by Trump's demagoguing, Walker has managed to still carve a niche for himself. That's an impressive achievement that could serve him well when he runs again in 2020 or 2024.
THIRD TIER: The other Fox News debate participants. Normally one would have to divide candidates into tiers by how they "feel." Fortunately that is not the case this time. Fox News has given us an arbitrary but important demarkation: if the candidate doesn't place in the top ten in the national polls, they won't get invited to Fox News's first debate. That leaves the other fourteen candidates scrambling for places four through ten. Those who make the cut-off, we can call third tier. Those who don't, we can call fourth tier.
So far these candidates make the cut-off: Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Rick Perry. All of these candidates poll in the 6.5% to 2% range....which means their position in the third tier is actually extremely precarious, and they can fall away into the fourth tier quickly.
It should be noted that if the field wasn't so crowded, and Donald Trump wasn't already absorbing so much of the adoration of the Republican base, many of these candidates would be first or second tier.
FOURTH TIER: The Fox News Debate Rejects. Many of these are fighting for scraps and could make if into the third tier with just the right boost. They are: John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore.
WHAT WE CAN MAKE OF THIS. Absent Trump, the race would follow the same forms as 2012. The primaries would quickly filter out the other candidates except for one or two third-tier candidates who hang on until the convention, and the convention would be a coronation for Jeb Bush.
With Trump, this race is now a real fight between the Republican Party's base (who overwhelmingly support Trump) and the Republican Party's organization (who overwhelmingly support Jeb). I would still bet on Jeb because the organization can get out the vote, but now his candidacy isn't at all certain.
In the end, the most compelling argument for Jeb Bush is that he has a fighting chance against Hillary Clinton. A recent Quinnipiac poll, for example, shows Bush, Walker and Rubio beating Clinton in three swing states: Iowa, Colorado, and Virginia. Donald Trump, on the other hand, gets crushed by double digits. If I'm the Republican establishment, I'm really hoping that Donald Trump will find a way to crash and burn soon.
As usual, this comes with good, bad, and ugly sides.
THE GOOD, for Democrats anyway, is that the timing of the announcement couldn't be better. Nevada is a razor-edge purple state such that Reid would have lost his last election (in 2010) if not for his GOTV machine. 2016 is a much more favorable environment for Democrats, as long as Hillary Clinton runs and the usual groups (OFA, DFA, MoveOn, etc.) are firing on all cylinders. They also have a popular candidate in recently retired Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, whom Reid endorsed today.
THE BAD for Democrats is that this gives the GOP an opening to take this seat. Right now the GOP have a great candidate in the current Governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval. He's enormously well-liked, and if he runs, even with all the advantages Cortez Masto has, it's going to be a toss-up. If he doesn't run, Cortez Masto is an easy favorite. So the GOP is going to work very hard to recruit him.
THE UGLY is that Reid has already endorsed his pick for the next Senate Majority Leader as of 2017, Chuck "I Love War and Gun Control" Schumer. Even without this endorsement, Schumer has seniority and is the most likely pick. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive favorite, has less than four years of seniority, so you can forget about her having a shot as Leader for a while. Those groans you hear are partisan Democrats being forced to bite the bullet and swallow yet another move by their party to the neoconservative center-right.
PPP's newest national Republican poll finds a clear leader in the race for the first time: Scott Walker is at 25% to 18% for Ben Carson, 17% for Jeb Bush, and 10% for Mike Huckabee. Rounding out the field of contenders are Chris Christie and Ted Cruz at 5%, Rand Paul at 4%, and Rick Perry and Marco Rubio at 3%.
This is just a poll of the GOP field, and as is pretty typical of these polls at this time of the primary, there's instability among the first preference. (Remember when Michelle Bachmann was the front runner in 2012?) I would be VERY surprised if Walker held his own against Jeb Bush. Walker isn't nutty enough to be third tier, but he's probably second tier.
Still — if you're not exactly enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton for President, and not a lot of lefties are, ask yourself whether she's better or worse than Scott Walker. That makes the decision disappointingly simple.
I've said it over and over again: if Hillary Clinton runs in 2016, she wins. This just supports my case.
To summarize Rachel Maddow's discussion: Christie claims that he wasn't interested in obtaining Fort Lee Mayor Sokolich's endorsement for his re-election campaign. Could it, then, have been a warning shot across the bow of other New Jersey Democrats, in order to obtain their endorsements, and make a bigger showing in 2013 to make a stronger case for Christie's Presidential run in 2016?
The biggest story IMO is that the closures of the GWB delayed EMS response to four calls from Fort Lee. In one case, the patient, a 91-year-old woman, died later. Keep an eye on this, because the persons responsible for the lane closures are going to get sued, if not arrested.
Not quite as big a story, but still huge, is that Christie has issued a blanket denial of any knowledge of the orders issued from his office:
"What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions." - source
LA Times columnist Robin Abcarian thinks this affair ends Christie's shot at a Presidential run. Democratic political analyst James Carville appears to agree:
"The big winner today is Jeb Bush" says Democrat strategist James Carville— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) January 8, 2014
I think Carville's half right. The political damage to Christie is going to get a lot worse. The flip side is that the actual big winner today isn't Jeb Bush, it's Hillary Clinton. I'm still not counting Christie out yet, but he's in a deep hole right now, and it's getting deeper.
Today, news site NorthJersey.com, the web presence of The Bergen Record, released emails they obtained (pdf) that tie the closures of those lanes directly to the Governor's Office. Quoting their story on those emails:
The messages are replete with references and insults to Fort Lee’s mayor, who had failed to endorse Christie for re-election and they chronicle how local officials tried to reach the Port Authority in a vain effort to eliminate the paralyzing gridlock that overwhelmed his town of 35,000, which sits in the shadow of the bridge, the world’s busiest.
Needless to say, Mayor Sokolich is pissed, and two Democratic NJ legislators are calling for a Federal investigation into the matter. You can read more about this at CBS, the New York Daily News, or elsewhere.
Why, you ask, does this story have national importance? This poll illustrates why:
CNN/ORC Poll released 26 December 2013:
For President (General, 2016)
Chris Christie (R) 48%
Hillary Clinton (D) 46%
N=950 registered voters nationwide
Simply put, if Hillary Clinton decides to run for President, Chris Christie is the only Republican who stands a good chance of beating her. She creams everyone else in the field. It's therefore to the Democrats' advantage to paint Christie as a petty, spiteful jerk who's not above abusing his power over relatively minor slights. For this reason, I pretty much ignored the reporting of this story on MSNBC and other talking head outlets as having ulterior motives. These emails change all that, because they give the story real weight. Not to mention legs.
Clinton (D) 49
Christie (R) 36
Clinton (D) 54
Cruz (R) 31
Clinton (D) 53
Paul (R) 36
Among voters who are Democratic or lean Democratic:
If she's thinking about running (and recent press releases indicate that she is), these numbers should encourage her to go for it. There's no guarantee that these numbers will last. Numbers like this can barely be counted on to last three weeks, let alone three years. But they demonstrate a depth of base support that simply wasn't there for her in 2008, when Obama and Edwards were credible, more progressive alternatives.