Archive for the ‘Hillary Clinton’ Category

Bernie Sanders vs. The Superdelegates?

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Originally published at EveryJoe

If the 2016 presidential primaries have been united by one theme, it would be dissatisfaction with politics as usual. On both the Republican and Democratic sides, disillusioned voters have put their faith in perceived outsiders Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. And given that these candidates’ supporters aren’t party regulars, they’re learning the hard way about the arcane obstacles surrounding delegate acquisition and convention preparation.

There’s no easy way to summarize how the processes work on either the Republican or Democratic side. Delegate allocation and the procedures around voting for them vary from state to state. Some require multi-layered convection processes that span months. But the Democrats have an arguably un-democratic tradition the Republicans don’t: Superdelegates. And nearly all of them are in the tank for Hillary Clinton.

Given the contentious nature of the Clinton-Sanders race – in which 33% of his voters say they won’t support her in a general election – many people are asking, what is a superdelegate? And will they make a difference at the Democratic National Convention if Clinton and Sanders are still locked in a close battle? The answer: It depends.

As the New York times recently described them, superdelegates are, “[M]ajor Democratic elected officials like governors and members of Congress; national and state party leaders; and notable party figures like former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.” Presently, 469 of them support Clinton, and only 31 are backing Sanders.

Naturally, this has drawn the ire of Bernie Sanders supporters, who back him precisely because they feel the system – on both an economic and political level – is rigged to favor elites. Given the pervasiveness of corporate welfare and the fact that the rich are getting richer as middle class wages stagnate, they aren’t wrong in diagnosing the problem. Sanders supporters are, understandably, sick of politics as usual – and nothing could be a better manifestation of their anxiety than the superdelegate count; especially as Sanders has swept Clinton in the last 7 contests.

This led an eager Sanders supporter to create a “Superdelegate Hit List,” filled with the names and contact information of the unelected party elites. Liberal website America Blog chronicled this effort, with writer John Aravosis noting that the list “[I]ncludes the apparent home addresses of several superdelegates, including at least one woman.” Aravosis also said, “[The creator] is urging fellow Sanders supporters to ‘harass’ Hillary Clinton’s superdelegates, in order to get them to change their vote to Bernie Sanders.”

Questionable tactics aside – because “harassing” a superdelegate isn’t likely to change his or her mind – this effort embodies the angst felt by many Sanders supporters. (A feeling shared by Trump’s backers as Cruz out-organizes him on the delegate-collection front.) And while Sanders supporters have every right to question the undemocratic nature of superdelegates in a party that prides itself on promoting democracy, the truth is that Clinton is still ahead – at least for now – with or without these party bigwigs.

As Philip Bump pointed out at the Washington Post, “[B]y every possible democratic measure, Clinton is winning. She’s winning in states (and territories) won, which isn’t a meaningful margin of victory anyway. She’s winning in the popular vote by 2.4 million votes — more than a third more than Sanders has in total. In part that’s because Sanders is winning lower-turnout caucuses, but it’s mostly because he’s winning smaller states. And she’s winning with both types of delegates.”

This does make sense, because not all states are equal in terms of voting population – and in turn, delegate allocation. “Sanders won Oklahoma by 10 points; Clinton won North Carolina by about 13. But Clinton won 14 more delegates than Sanders in North Carolina. He won 4 more than her in Oklahoma,” wrote Bump. As he noted, Oklahoma is a smaller state than North Carolina, and of course as a deep red state, has fewer Democrats. “Where Clinton has won big, there have often been a lot of pledged delegates at stake. Where Sanders has won big, there often haven’t,” concluded Bump.

So yes, it is likely that Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, although it won’t be the drama-free coronation she’d hoped for. But Bump does concede that, “In Clinton’s case, she probably won’t get [to the nomination] without superdelegates tilting her way.” And it’s easy to see why this upsets Sanders supporters. But the fact remains, from a purely democratic standpoint, that she does have the backing of more voters than he does – to the tune of millions. If superdelegates didn’t exist and Clinton did have to fight on the convention floor, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where she wouldn’t still come out on top.

Ultimately, while Sanders is putting up an admirable fight, it doesn’t look like he’ll be able to oust the woman that, quite frankly, most political observers originally thought would be the president 8 years ago. The New York primary will be held on April 19th, and Clinton, the former U.S. Senator from the state, is favored to win – by a 53-37 point margin per a recent Fox News poll – despite the fact that Sanders originally hails from Brooklyn. A total of 291 delegates are at stake – 44 of which are superdelegates.

While Sanders and his supporters have legitimate points about rigged systems, and it’s true that the convention processes for both the Republicans and Democrats aren’t the most democratic in the world, there are always two sides to a story. Sometimes, people forget that political parties are technically private clubs. That’s why they get to make their own rules as far as the nominating process goes.

Typically, those rules and the democratic process aren’t in conflict. But insofar as they are, the system is built to work through those kinks. To the extent that the outcomes favor the party elites, yes, Sanders and Trump supporters have a right to be upset. As things stand on the Democratic side however, Clinton has a majority, and likely will continue to. If Democrats are in fact concerned with democracy, then majority rules; and Sanders’ supporters are out of luck this time.

A federal judge just gave Hillary Clinton some really bad news

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Voters already distrust Hillary Clinton. And given what just happened in a federal court, the former secretary of state isn’t likely to improve her standing anytime soon.

The Obama State Department has conveniently delayed the release of controversial emails sent on Clinton’s private server. Now a federal judge is working to put a stop to those protective measures.

As the Washington Examiner reported:

In a court order entered Thursday, Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court told State Department officials to publish 550 of Clinton’s emails by Saturday, another batch by Feb. 19, a third batch by Feb. 26 and a final batch by Feb. 29.

The order represents a victory for Jason Leopold, the Vice News reporter who filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for Clinton’s emails last year.

The State Department attempted last month to stall the final Clinton email release until after the primary contests in February and until hours before the spate of “Super Tuesday” elections.

Leopold’s legal team has argued that the State Department’s refusal to release the emails until after the majority of the Democratic primary contests amounts to suppressing information pertinent to voters making an informed decision.

As Rare’s Natalie McKee recently wrote, “Remember, last week we learned there were 22 emails on Clinton’s server that were too damaging to release, in any form, to the public. Yet these emails nonchalantly passed hands throughout the State Department—and across an unsecured world wide web.”

All of this drama, especially in the wake of Clinton’s epic loss to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, makes one wonder if Joe Biden regrets his decision not to enter the presidential race. Meanwhile, Michael Bloomberg is floating rumors that he might jump in as an independent.

Amidst it all, Donald Trump decisively won in New Hampshire. Talk about shaking up the system.

The Fight For Liberty Will Always Transcend Presidential Politics

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Originally published at Every Joe

I’ll admit it. I kind of lost it when Donald Trump won New Hampshire this week. I know, the polls showed it was a long time coming. But after Ted Cruz took him out in Iowa, I thought there was at least a chance that someone could repeat the performance and bruise the alleged tough guy’s ego enough to induce Trumper Tantrum part two. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Trump won New Hampshire with 35% of the vote; more than double second-place finisher John Kasich.

This presidential cycle, I’ve written extensively about how anti-establishment instincts are not inherently pro-liberty. If anything proves that from a data standpoint, it’s the fact that Trump won the New Hampshire towns where Ron Paul performed the best in 2012. Sanders also did well in those areas on the Democratic side. Of course, we don’t know how well Rand Paul would have done if he’d stayed in for New Hampshire. But polls showed him hovering around just 4% in the weeks leading up to the race. Dropping out to focus on his Senate race made sense at that point.

Simply put, it’s just not a good year for liberty on the presidential side. But what I needed to remember while I was busy seeing red on Tuesday is how much progress we have made. When Rand Paul dropped out after Iowa, the first thing I did was pen an optimistic piece about how much the liberty movement has accomplished in the past decade, and why there’s so much more to work toward. And as I raged on Facebook post-primary about how I feared my work had helped, even if slightly, to pave the way for the Trump juggernaut, I got a nice reminder that reinforced my typically optimistic outlook.

“Corie, I have about 40 colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus who agree with my principles and positions to a degree I never would have imagined just a few years ago,” wrote Congressman Justin Amash on my status. (How cool is social media, by the way?) “I’ve run openly as a libertarian Republican (without using Ron Paul’s more paleoconservative rhetoric that appeals to Trump voters), have been challenged aggressively, and consistently win by large margins,” he added. (True story; a Chamber of Commerce backed, self-funded challenger tried to take Rep. Amash out in a primary two years ago and failed miserably.) “Things are moving in our direction in the background, even as things get worse in the foreground,” he concluded.

The truth is, Rep. Amash is absolutely right. Congress is in a much better position to fight for reform than it has been in quite some time. And I’ve long expressed my belief that the fight for liberty is largely a generational one. I continue to believe that despite temporary setbacks amid the normal ebb and flow of politics. The vast majority of young Republicans tend to lean libertarian, and there are pro-freedom instincts present among Millennials – it just takes the right messengers to tap into. Some look at the support Bernie Sanders commands from young people and conclude that there’s no hope. He’s a socialist, after all! But it’s a lot more complicated than a cursory look reveals.

As Bonnie Kristian wrote at Rare this week analyzing a Nate Silver piece on Bernie Sanders’ youth support, “Silver argues, Sanders’ success—and Ron Paul’s success among the same Millennial generation—is about how ‘younger Americans view political labels like ‘socialist’ and ‘libertarian’ differently than older ones.’” As Kristian noted however, the data Silver presents shows that Millennials don’t actually like socialist economic policies. As she explained, “In other words, young people continue to be a little bit more left-wing than average, but they drift right with age. What else is new?” And as Kristian noted per Silver’s data, Americans under 30 actually have a more positive view of libertarianism than socialism.

Ultimately, I agree with Kristian’s take here: “Millennials like me have grown into adulthood with an awful economy and constant war. Each new newsday seems to bring yet another report of some secret, dastardly way the government is violating our liberties and trampling the rule of law,” she writes. “Of course, Paul and Sanders aren’t saying all the same stuff, but they are both saying that revolutionary change is long overdue. That’s incredibly appealing to the most politically independent generation ever.”

As Kristian adds, “[T]he good news is that libertarianism could well win out: Even with favorable feelings toward ‘socialism,’ Millennials are comparatively conservative with our money, ready for a more responsible foreign policy, and disinterested in running other people’s lives. That said, there’s certainly work to be done to provide Millennials the economic education they need to match their excellent pro-liberty instinctswith specific pro-liberty policies. But economic education is hardly an insurmountable hurdle—and honestly, simply growing older and taking on more financial responsibilities can accomplish a lot in that regard. In short, Millennials’ political independence is no cause for dismay for anyone except the moribund political establishment we’re no longer willing to support.”

This is all a good reminder that there is a lot to be optimistic about. It’s true that nothing is foolproof and that there are authoritarian strains in our politics to be worried about. But there’s strong evidence that people are fed up with the status quo, and want something different. It’s up to libertarians to explain why our ideas are the best suited to fill the gap caused by a lack of trust in political elites. And we no doubt have a long and arduous road ahead. But as Matt Kibbe, the former president of FreedomWorks and head of a Rand Paul Super PAC recently wrote, “Rand Paul is out – but libertarianism is finally mainstream.”

Said Kibbe: “Rand has seeded another generation of liberty-minded young people, much like his father did in 2008 and 2012. When I was a kid, there was no broad social movement for liberty like we see today. Rand juiced the build-out of this community simply by being on the presidential stage, by offering a compelling alternative to the establishment’s failed foreign policies, and by speaking about civil liberties and the failures of mass incarceration to new audiences that few Republicans have been willing to engage with.”

There’s much to continue working for. As Kibbe said, “Politics is a lagging indicator of social change, and the measure of a social movement is better taken upstream from voter turnout.” As libertarians, I believe we should continue to tap into the dissatisfaction people very clearly and justifiably feel. Now is the time to continue making the case that our ideas are viable. We’ve made incredible progress in a relatively short period of time. Instead of giving up, we should double down and push harder. Libertarian Republicans may have lost the presidential battle this year, but the war no doubt rages on. And the truth is, the liberty movement has more ground troops now than at any point in modern history. As Rep. Amash suggested, I’ll keep fighting.

New Hampshire was a Revolt Against the Status Quo, But It Doesn’t Set an Unbreakable Precedent

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Originally published at Every Joe

Sanders 60%, Clinton 38%. Trump 35%, Kasich 16%. This is what happens when voters are so frustrated that they choose the devils they don’t know over the ones that are all too familiar. As someone who cut her teeth politically in the Ron Paul and Tea Party movements, I get the appeal of fighting to stop the establishment. When traditional politicians constantly ignore your concerns, you latch onto alternatives. Unfortunately for conservatives and libertarians, the Republican alternative New Hampshire chose is a vulgar, left-wing, con-man.

Maybe I’m unique for thinking results, not the simple act of poking the giant, matter. I’ve argued before that many people I once thought were part of the libertarian coalition are “anti-establishment” simply for the sake of it, rather than principled in their views. And I get that populism has its own left-right lurches and we may be in an authoritarian pull currently. But while Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won decisively in New Hampshire – a 94% white state with an open primary – I’m not convinced that they’ll be the nominees.

New Hampshire’s primary being the first in the nation and open to independents makes it unique. If only registered Democrats had voted, the margin between Sanders and Hillary Clinton would have been split nearly 50%-50%, as was the case in Iowa. And on the Republican side, Trump attracted a high number of independent votes as well. Moving forward, the majority of states don’t have open primaries, and that will matter; largely benefiting Hillary on the Democratic side. The question for Republicans now is which candidates, if any, are poised to stop Trump?

While moderate Ohio Governor John Kasich eked out what many considered a surprising second place in New Hampshire, it wasn’t unpredicted. Polls showed him doing well, and he staked everything on the Granite State, holding over 100 townhalls and essentially living there over the past several months. While Kasich’s showing is impressive, especially considering he got 1.9% of the vote in Iowa, all signs point to his inability to perform in the next several states, as he’s done virtually nothing to lay groundwork.

This leaves Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio, with their 11.7%, 11.0% and 10.6% respective finishes in New Hampshire. Rubio admitted that he diminished the potential of his post-Iowa “Marcomentum” with a strangely robotic performance in Saturday’s debate. That flap probably won’t be his ultimate demise, but the timing mixed with the fact that nearly half of voters were undecided up until the last few days hurt him. Bush still managed to underperform with a fourth place finish after spending $1,200 per voter in New Hampshire. For perspective, Trump spent $40, and Cruz, just $18.

But there’s an argument to be made that Bush has the ground game to absorb both Kasich’s and Chris Christie’s votes in South Carolina and beyond. And if establishment confidence in Rubio collapses, that could have an impact that benefits Bush as well. There’s also an argument that given his strong Iowa and New Hampshire performances, Cruz is the one to stop Trump. This will no doubt irk colleagues who have complained that Cruz is ruthless and impossible to work with. But if it’s true that he’s the only candidate who can piece together enough of the conservative base, which has registered its frustration with the status quo, to stop Trump? In my book, and according to two-thirds of Republicans who say they’d never vote for the braggadocious businessman, that’s a win.

The Democrats are no doubt facing a similar sense of woe as it comes to stopping their version of a hostile takeover in the Sanders surge. Though he’s a Senator who caucuses with the Democrats, Sanders is an independent; and his supporters like that about him. The same question Republicans have about Trump’s viability in closed primaries is what Clinton’s camp is banking on moving forward. While polls do show Sanders gaining on her nationally, Clinton still holds a lead, especially among minority voters. (Though Sanders’ new endorsement from leading black intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates is a blow for Hillary, as is recent support for him from former NAACP chair Ben Jealous.)

Despite these setbacks, Clinton is counting on support from rank-and-file non-white Democrats and older women; something she will likely be able to bank on at the end of the day. And depending on how South Carolina and Nevada, which are scheduled for February 20th, shake out, Republicans may just find the man who can both take Trump out, and as they hope, beat Clinton in November. Bush seems better poised now than he has at any point in the cycle. But Rubio continues to effectively straddle the line between insurgent and establishment, while Cruz rakes in conservative support and continues to court Rand Paul’s libertarian voters, many of whom helped him overtake Bush in New Hampshire.

The Republican side is still an open ballgame, and there is a non-zero chance that independents will once and for all hijack the system and nominate both Sanders and Trump. But more than likely, Clinton will be the nominee, with a Cruz, Bush, or Rubio flanking her during general election debates. If after all the populist noise voters made in New Hampshire, Clinton and Bush are the ultimate nominees, it would be a level of poetic justice that would unite the political elite on both sides of the aisle. But if that happens – and I’m not sure it will – it would be as a result of a much harder fought battle than either of them ever bargained for.

Could New Hampshire become revenge of the Republican governors?

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Originally published at Rare

Last week’s Iowa caucus was dominated by the outsiders, as top finishers Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio are, at least by most measures, insurgents with less political experience than their competitors. (I’ve argued that Rubio is actually “stealth establishment,” but he nonetheless pushes an outsider image – and pretty persuasively.)

Even Ben Carson and Rand Paul placed top five in the Iowa caucus while Governors Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie garnered 2.8 percent, 1.9 percent, and 1.8 percent respectively. Paul has since dropped out of the race, Carson is barely registering in New Hampshire polls, and both Kasich and Bush are, to the shock of many observers, now giving frontrunner Trump a run for his money.

As Kevin Boyd wrote at Rare about Kasich, “The second term Ohio governor and former Congressman has staked everything on New Hampshire and it appears it will pay off with a strong finish…. His crowds have gotten larger in the past few days and have become more energetic.”

Bush is also doing better than expected, with new polls showing him in either second or third place. And while a post-Iowa caucus poll commissioned by CNN released Friday showed Rubio gaining on Trump for second place, this bump hasn’t lasted.

Per CNN, Trump maintained his New Hampshire lead with 29 percent, and Rubio gained, with a second place 18 percent. That appears to be changing however, after a nearly universally negative reception to Rubio’s debate performance on Saturday.

While Rubio’s defenders say his performance was simply a matter of “staying on message,” he came across as almost sickly robotic – and Chris Christie called him out during a moment that undoubtedly hurt Rubio’s image and campaign chances.

“Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing,” said Rubio, over, and over, and over again in an attempt to hit the president. In response, Christie pounced, “There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody.”

Instead of changing course, Rubio repeated the line. Again. And again. Leading to charges that he’s inexperienced, can’t take the heat, doesn’t have much real policy knowledge, and isn’t ready to take on Hillary Clinton, let alone be president himself.

Said Charles Krauthammer, who has long praised Rubio as a new hope:

“I think, (Rubio’s exchange with Christie) really hurt. And of course, the moment that people are going to be remembering is Rubio…. I think that this is a moment when he could have really put away the field, and he has had a great momentum, and this is likely to put something of a brake on his momentum.”

Kasich and Bush are both banking on a strong performance in New Hampshire to justify continuing their campaigns. Kasich has stated that if he doesn’t do well in the Granite State, he knows there’s no future for him. And Bush insiders are preparing for the possibility of Jeb ending his campaign if he doesn’t counter his poor Iowa showing with strength in New Hampshire.

Luckily for the governors, Republican voters in New Hampshire have a history of independent thinking, and don’t always follow the trends set in Iowa. And although Trump is still the frontrunner in New Hampshire, he underperformed his polling in Iowa, and has done very little retail politicking or ground work in New Hampshire.

Kasich, Bush, and Christie on the other hand, have had their noses to the grindstone, meeting voters and shaking hands, even as New Hampshire faces impending blizzard conditions.

After Iowa, instead of heading to the Granite State, Trump elected to go back to New York City. He made an appearance at a New Hampshire diner over the weekend, but Trump is more suited to his arena rallies and towering rhetoric than one-on-one questions from actual voters.

At the primary approaches, New Hampshire remains a shockingly open race. Kasich, Bush, and even Christie could surprise. Or perhaps Rubio and Cruz, who are nearly tied per recent polls will over-perform. It’s still anyone’s guess, but it’s clear that the governors have a chance to shine in New Hampshire that simply wasn’t provided to them in Iowa.