On May 24, Washington state held a primary and Clinton won. No big surprise except for the fact that a lot more people voted in it than voted in Washington’s earlier caucus, which Sanders won 73% to 27%! Just hang on.
Bernie is on track to lose the nomination, and he blames it on a rigged party system. It sounds logical that it would be, but do the facts back that up?
Is the party rigged against him? Here’s the test. A rigged system would give Bernie fewer delegates than he is due. If he got 50% of the popular vote, it would give him less than 50% of the delegates—definitely not more.
So what’s actually happened? To find out, we need the percent of the popular vote he has won. The Washington Post has the data, including all caucus-state voting. But they only tell us the difference in popular vote totals. (Hillary’s ahead by 2.9 million votes. Watch John Oliver.) So I redid their calculations (here) to find the required percentage.
Sanders has won 43.8% of the popular vote, and the party has given him 45.8% of the elected (pledged) delegates. He’s had more than his due.
So the Democratic Party’s primary/caucus system is rigged for Sanders and against Clinton. If it perfectly reflected the voters, Clinton would be leading by 491 delegates:
|Popular vote:||13.2 M||10.3 M||2.9 M|
|Popular vote %:||56.2%||43.8%||12.3%|
|Pledged delegates:||1771||1499||272 (8.3%)|
|Fair pledged delegates:||1836||1434||402 (12.3%)|
|Fair superdelegates:||402||313||89 (12.3%)|
|Fair total delegates:||2238||1747||491 (12.3%)|
|Note: “fair” means proportional to the popular vote.|
Why does this happen? Simple. What Washington state makes clear is that even though most voters who would vote in a primary would vote for Clinton, Bernie got 74 delegates to her 27. That’s rigged. Not by Sanders, but by the party’s use of caucuses.
Caucus voter suppression. For each state, I compared the total Democratic caucus or primary vote to the total vote for Obama in 2012. For primaries is was 48% and for caucuses 12%. Three-quarters of the potential primary vote is suppressed by caucuses.
Because caucuses are at inconvenient times and locations and force people to sit through hours of politicking, they suppress the votes of parents, working people and older folks. Caucuses reward highly motivated voters with flexibility, a bias that has favored Sanders. The result is that Clinton’s popular vote lead is decreased and Sander’s delegate total is inflated.
But why did Washington hold both? Lord only knows. The caucus determines everything and the primary nothing. People just vote because they want to be heard. Nebraska does the same thing and got the same result. Clinton won the primary 41,819 to 36,691, but Bernie won the caucus with less than half as many voters and got 15 out of 25 delegates.
There is no grand conspiracy. The most famous and accurate quote about the party is from Will Rogers (1935). “I belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Just by accident, it’s rigged to benefit Bernie.
But what about the super delegates? Half a million of Bernie’s followers (led by Robert Reich, Bernie’s loudest cheerleader) signed petitions to “Let the voters decide — not the superdelegates.” But after Sanders outspent Clinton in New York and lost badly, he decided that “Let the voters decide” was a bad idea—it would almost surely cause him to lose.
So on May 1 at the National Press Club, Bernie said (listen to him say it):
At the end of the day, the responsibility the superdelegates have is to decide what is best for this country and what is best for the Democratic Party. —Bernie Sanders
Well, that’s been the position of the Democratic Party all along. But Bernie told his supporters over and over that this position proved the system was rigged. The supers must “Let the voters decide.” He said that was the only fair way.
But now he agrees. The superdelegates should decide for themselves what is best. In fact the superdelegates are an excellent safety measure. They’ve never had an impact, and they won’t this time, but if a lot of conservatives did vote in our open primaries (like just happened in West Virginia) to give us a bad candidate, they would protect us.
The trouble with Bernie’s new position is that he’s asking the supers to overturn the will of 2.9 million Democratic voters, particularly black, Hispanic, and older voters, based on how an old white guy reads unreliable polls before the race has begun. What is he thinking?! Actually he told us. On April 14, at the Brooklyn debate, he explained:
|At the Brooklyn debate
Bernie explains why the deep
South (black) votes don’t matter.
“Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the deep South. No question about it. We got murdered there. That is the most conservative part of this great country. … We’re out of the deep South now. And we’re moving up.”
—Bernie, April 14.
That’s crazy. He dismisses deep-South votes as conservative. Sure, the deep South is conservative. But not the voters “who cleaned his clock.” Those were Democratic black voters. Everybody knows that. Bernie was, in effect, saying, “conservative black votes don’t matter.”
Of course, if you asked him, he’d take it back. Or would he? He’s had plenty of chances and his comment was criticized in many papers (also here). I heard a black voter call in to NPR and ask about this. She was none too happy.
It’s Time to Stand Up for the Democratic Party
Unfortunately, Bernie is still telling his supporters the system is rigged against them, and they should be angry about it, and the national convention “will be messy.” He and his supporters understand this to mean “like the Nevada convention,” since Bernie never repudiated, or even acknowledged, anything that happened there.
So let me recommend a petition that is just starting to circulate, calling on him to repudiate “Uncivilized Conduct.” It’s a minimal request, so everyone should be able to sign it. But it would force him to change strategy. It’s actually hosted at his base camp—MoveOn. Anyone can sign it. You don’t need to be a member. You can sign most quickly just below. Or you can sign it at MoveOn, where you can comment and see other’s comments:
The press will love this unexpected “Man bites dog” story — if we get enough signatures. But how? It will need to go viral, so I hope you’ll share this page.
This is important. Bernie is getting more destructive by the day, and this is probably the easiest way to help put him back on track where he can do some good.