|Meet Your Next President|
Now, having come off the Acela Primary, things are coming into sharper focus. Let's look!
Sanders was always a long-shot to win the nomination. As time went on, he got longer and longer. Now he'd have to win 60+% of the delegates when he's currently polling at around 45%-50%. He'd have to do it in every remaining race. It isn't going to happen.
The Democrats: Nothing Has Changed
The interesting question, though, is (a) what Sanders will do to wrap his campaign up and (b) what Sander's supporters will do in the general election. The narrative is that Sanders will stay in but be more of a team-player (less vicious attacks, more talking about his platform) and use his cooperation as leverage for his planks and possibly a place in a Hillary administration (up to and including the Vice Presidency).
The narrative from his supporters is #BernieOrBust. Basically their position is that the election was stolen due to fraud, the rules with Super Delegates and closed primaries were never fair anyway, and since they were never "Democrats" if Bernie isn't the nominee they're either writing him in, voting Green Party, or, maybe, voting Trump.
The Omnivore assesses:
- Sanders will not be the Vice President.
- The #BernieOrBust movement will go the way of the PUMAs (basically going down in a thrashing of conspiracy theory and humiliation).
Why? Well, Sanders doesn't bring a whole lot to the table as a VP--yes, he brings (maybe) his supporters--but the Democrats have many more unifying-drivers than a VP slot. The Omnivore has seen it said that Democrats pick VP slots to appeal to a segment of their constituency and Republicans pick their VPs to assert their commitment to conservatism. That seems reasonably on-point (Sarah Palin for McCain, Paul Ryan for Romney, and Biden for Obama).
Sanders would reach out to Bernie voters--which is not inconsiderable--but a pick of a woman or minority candidate would potentially boost turn-out in key demographics. It's also the case that Sanders would not especially "balance" the ticket--it would make it appear more radical which Hillary might not want.
In any event, the VP slot is definitely a consolation prize. If Sanders is really interested in pursuing his platform, a cabinet position might be better.
The #BernieOrBust crowd is another matter. The hard-core online supporters most definitely won't come around to Hillary and will, as time goes by, likely gravitate towards the Green Party--or even Trump (the PUMAS went for McCain to try to punish the Democrats). Of course if you take most of them at their word, these were never Democratic votes to begin with anyway so Hillary isn't losing votes due to them--and it's the height of hypocrisy to vote for Trump (yes: he's not "the system"--but neither is Kim Kardashian and they wouldn't all just write her in either). Basically: the vocal I'd-Never group appears larger on-line than it is as a real force.
The Republicans: Something Has Changed
Trump didn't just have big wins last night, he dominated all five states. He won with every GOP demographic and he exceeded his prior performance in each of them. Basically, he is unifying the party--at least around 50% of it. This is new. He has also rejected a "more presidential" demeanor and seems entirely committed to his brand.
The narrative right now is (a) The Trump Train is unstoppable due to his smashing victories but (b) the #NeverTrump will rally and try to hold the line in Indiana and California. Basically: they're saying that his victories were baked into the fight and they won't let up.
While Trump is not mathematically unstoppable, there is good reason to think that he will reach the convention with 1237 delegates. Why? Well, right now polls (what exists) in Indiana and California show Trump with either a small lead or a large one. While this could change in the coming days, there is reason to think it might change in the pro-Trump direction. That's because:
- Exit polling shows that the majority of voters approve of his No Muslims In The US stance. This is a reasonably radical point and to find substantial agreement in the North East suggests that it's broadly persuasive everywhere.
- Ted Cruz didn't do well at all--Kasich was always going to get pounded but Cruz's miserable showing means that as a potential second-ballot choice, he looks weak. Trying to persuade voters to go tactically for him is going to be a hard sell.
- Exit polling shows that most voters think the person with the most votes should be the GOP nominee. If Cruz was really close behind Trump, that'd be one thing--but if he's far distant in delegates (even if Trump's pledged delegates back him) and millions of votes behind, this is going to be a hard sell to a party that really can't win at all without some kind of unity.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that last night "#NeverTrump left with its pants around its ankles" and that seems pretty much right. It's true that in the numbers game, #NeverTrump was always planning a fire-wall action in Indiana and a last stand in California--but the strategy and the optics are two different things. Getting humiliated in a big battle doesn't strengthen the movement. It also doesn't help sell an alternate candidate--of which no clear choice exists.
The Omnivore thinks that we are looking at a Hillary-Trump race which will, likely, be a complete blood-bath in terms of negative messaging and mud-slinging. It may also result in a severe schism of the GOP. While the drivers are against the GOP actually breaking apart (those voters have nowhere to go--for either side) it seems likely that without the possibility of a non-Trump winning by 1st-ballot Delegate Count, no unifying argument can emerge.