Why Sanders Will Be Able To Hang Around

Clinton won’t be able to choke off his small donors, letting him fight through March.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debate in New Hampshire.
AP Photo/David Goldman
S.V. Dáte
Add to Briefcase
S.V. Dáte
Feb. 8, 2016, 8 p.m.

After months of can­did­ate vis­its to town halls, diners, and in­di­vidu­al voters’ back­yards and liv­ing rooms, New Hamp­shire Demo­crats head to the polls Tues­day—and will de­term­ine al­most noth­ing.

To help un­der­stand why, here’s a brief primer on the Demo­crat­ic race post-New Hamp­shire:

What’s ex­actly at stake in the New Hamp­shire primary?

The primary res­ults will be used this sum­mer to award 24 del­eg­ates to the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Con­ven­tion, which will choose the party’s pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee. Iowa, which held caucuses last week, chose 44 del­eg­ates. For per­spect­ive: Win­ning the nom­in­a­tion re­quires 2,382 del­eg­ates, out of 4,763 avail­able. So these two con­tests will de­term­ine 1.4 per­cent of the del­eg­ates needed to se­cure the nom­in­a­tion.

That’s it? Then why all the at­ten­tion on Iowa and New Hamp­shire?

The states’ de­fend­ers ar­gue that mak­ing the can­did­ates spend lots of time in front of en­gaged voters serves as a use­ful first screen. And, in­deed, voters in later states of­ten look to these res­ults when mak­ing up their own minds. A can­did­ate who winds up win­ning the early con­tests of­ten be­comes the con­sensus choice re­l­at­ively quickly.

So why won’t that hap­pen in 2016?

It could—but typ­ic­ally a con­sensus emerges when the lead­ing can­did­ate cre­ates a sense of in­ev­it­ab­il­ity, which dries up money flow­ing to the re­main­ing can­did­ates, prompt­ing them to drop out. The front-run­ner in this case, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton, won’t be able to stop the flow of con­tri­bu­tions to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s cam­paign be­cause so little money is com­ing from the usu­al stable of Demo­crat­ic Party donors. Rather, Sanders has been able to tap in­to an enorm­ous pool of small donors who gave him $73 mil­lion through the end of Decem­ber, with $28 mil­lion in the bank as of Jan. 1. (Clin­ton raised $110 mil­lion in 2015, and had $38 mil­lion to start 2016.) In oth­er words: There is no fin­an­cial reas­on for Sanders not to keep cam­paign­ing through the com­ing weeks and months.

But doesn’t the cal­en­dar start to fa­vor Clin­ton after New Hamp­shire?

Sanders has been able to build a de­voted fol­low­ing with his simple mes­sage that the polit­ic­al sys­tem has been cor­rup­ted by big money. His weak­ness, though, is among non­white voters—who hap­pen to make up a large per­cent­age of the Demo­crat­ic primary elect­or­ate. Most of the states that come after New Hamp­shire have sig­ni­fic­ant black, Latino, and oth­er minor­ity vot­ing pop­u­la­tions.

Does this mean Clin­ton will lock up the needed del­eg­ates in the March con­tests?

She could start build­ing a sub­stan­tial lead, but the party’s del­eg­ate rules will make that a slow pro­cess so long as Sanders can win a reas­on­able share of the vote in each state. Demo­crat­ic del­eg­ates are awar­ded by con­gres­sion­al dis­trict and by the statewide win­ner—but in both cases the del­eg­ates are al­loc­ated in pro­por­tion to the vote share. Even if Clin­ton star­ted win­ning 60 per­cent of the avail­able del­eg­ates in the com­ing six weeks, she would have won few­er than 1,400 del­eg­ates through the end of March.

Mean­ing this could go on through April?

Pos­sibly, par­tic­u­larly if Sanders can do bet­ter than 40 per­cent in the com­ing states. In either case, Sanders is also up against Clin­ton’s over­whelm­ing ad­vant­age among the Demo­crat­ic Party’s 700 so-called “su­per del­eg­ates”—mem­bers of Con­gress, gov­ernors, and Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee mem­bers, whose votes are not based on the res­ult of any primary or caucus, but rather their own dis­cre­tion. Cur­rently, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press, Clin­ton has a 362-8 lead over Sanders.

And it is that ad­vant­age, ac­cord­ing to Josh Put­nam, a Uni­versity of Geor­gia polit­ic­al sci­ent­ist who main­tains the pop­u­lar Front­load­ing HQ web­site, that ul­ti­mately might wind things down in Clin­ton’s fa­vor. In fact, by late March, half of the del­eg­ates up for grabs in primar­ies and caucuses will have been al­loc­ated. And if Clin­ton has a lead among those, her large su­per-del­eg­ate lead will make it math­em­at­ic­ally dif­fi­cult for Sanders to come back.

What We're Following See More »
“KNOWINGLY AND INTENTIONALLY”
Inspector General Report Found McCabe Lied To Investigators
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Justice Department inspector general referred its finding that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe repeatedly misled investigators who were examining a media disclosure to the top federal prosecutor in D.C. to determine whether McCabe should be charged with a crime." The referral occurred "after the inspector general concluded McCabe had lied to investigators or his own boss, then-FBI Director James B. Comey, on four occasions, three of them under oath." The referral does "not necessarily mean McCabe will be charge with a crime ... although the report alleged that one of McCabe’s lies 'was done knowingly and intentionally.'"

Source:
GOP APPOINTEES RULE AGAINST TRUMP
Court Rules Against Policy Punishing Sanctuary Cities
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

A federal appeals court in Chicago "upheld a nationwide injunction against making federal grant funding contingent on cooperation with immigration enforcement." The three Republican appointees ruled that the Trump administration "exceeded its legal authority in trying to implement the new conditions without approval from Congress ... One judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel, Reagan appointee Daniel Manion, said he would narrow the injunction solely to protect Chicago. However, the two other judges assigned to the case said the nationwide injunction appeared to be justified."

Source:
BUT PLEDGES TO HAVE A VOTE
Grassley Delays Markup of Protect-Mueller Bill
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley "decided Thursday to delay markup" on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller until next week. But he remains steadfast in his support for a committee vote, despite Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's "pledge to kill it" if it gets to the floor.

Source:
ARMISTICE MAY BECOME PEACE AGREEMENT
North Korea Looking for Denuclearization of Peninsula
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

North Korea has expressed its commitment to 'complete denuclearisation' of the Korean peninsula and is not seeking conditions, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday. ... South Korea announced on Wednesday that it is considering how to change a decades-old armistice with North Korea into a peace agreement as it prepares for the North-South summit this month." The leaders of the respective countries are also expected to connect a phone line so they can communicate directly.

Source:
NO IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT DUTIES
Deal Reached to Send California National Guard to Border
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

"California reached an agreement with the federal government that the state’s National Guard troops will deploy to the border to focus on fighting transnational gangs as well as drug and gun smugglers, Gov. Jerry Brown said. ... Brown said Wednesday he secured federal funding for terms similar to those outlined in last week’s proposed contract: The Guard cannot handle custody duties for anyone accused of immigration violations, build border barriers or have anything to do with immigration enforcement."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login