Super Tuesday: March Theses

I. Sanders won four states: Oklahoma, Minnesota, Vermont, and Colorado. Clinton won seven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia. That means, altogether, that Sanders has five states (those four plus New Hampshire) and Clinton has ten states (those seven plus Nevada, Iowa, and South Carolina). But here’s the critical thing: the elections in Nevada, Iowa, and Massachusetts were either close or extraordinarily close. A little bit more time here, a little bit more organizing there, and they could easily have tipped his way. In other words, Sanders could very easily have eight states now to Clinton’s seven [Thanks, Mom, for catching my error!]. He doesn’t, and coulda shoulda woulda is just that. But what this does mean, going forward, is that we have the opportunity to turn potential into actual. We’ve got time, we’ve got organizing, we’ve got money: let’s make use of it all. Clinton’s strongest weapon is the aura of inevitability that she and her supporters and the media have concocted around her. Part of that is based on reality, part of it is based on super delegates (which I refuse to concede), and part of it is based on spin. Don’t accommodate the super delegates, don’t accommodate the spin.

II. The exit polls in Massachusetts, which Clinton won narrowly, are fascinating. Here are some highlights:

  1. Sanders got 41% of non-white voters (they don’t break down the category further). I want to come back to this.
  2. Sanders beat Clinton among voters making under $50k, and voters making between $50k and $100k. The only income group she won was voters making over $100k.
  3. Among first-time voters, Sanders got a whopping 71% of the vote.
  4. Among independents, Sanders got 65% of the votes.
  5. Sanders won among very liberal voters and moderate voters.
  6. Clinton did better among married women than she did among unmarried women.

Also, related to the gender question, in Oklahoma, Sanders nearly tied Clinton among women voters (48% for Clinton, 46% for Sanders).

III. I’ve seen lots of claims that Sanders is only winning because of white men; among every other demographic, he loses. That simply isn’t true. In Vermont and New Hampshire, he beat Clinton among all women voters. In Oklahoma, as I said, he nearly tied Clinton among women voters. In Nevada, he nearly tied her among Latino voters (though the experts are still debating that one). In Massachusetts, as I said, he got 41% of non-white voters. We don’t have any exit polls for Colorado and Minnesota (at least not on CNN’s website, which is the one I’ve been using), but given the size of his victories there, I would be surprised if Sanders didn’t win or tie with Clinton among non-white voters and perhaps women voters.

IV. The issue of race and demographics in the campaign is fascinating. There’s absolutely no question that Clinton has a commanding lead among African American voters. She’s won that part of the electorate in every single contest thus far.

But here’s where things get interesting. Back in the fall, when the issue of the gender gap between Clinton and Sanders supporters was raised, Matt Bruenig very shrewdly pointed out that the real divide there was as much one of generation as it was one of gender: younger women voters were supporting Sanders, older women voters were supporting Clinton. A lot of the subsequent polling and primary results have confirmed his premonition.

I wonder if we’re not about to see something similar—if not quite as dramatic—with non-white voters. The cross-cutting factor here is not only age—Bruenig has also shown that younger black voters are trending toward Bernie (see the graph at the bottom of this post), and even in South Carolina, Sanders did much better with younger black voters than he did with older black voters—but also region.

Think about it. With the exception of Nevada, the states where there’s been dramatic support for Clinton among non-white voters have all been in the South. And in Nevada, Latino voters almost went for Sanders (the experts are still debating that one). But outside the South and Nevada, there have been primaries in three states that are virtually all white (Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa), and three other states that while majority white, have more diverse populations (Colorado, Minnesota, and Massachusetts). Still no exit polls from Colorado and Minnesota (at least not on CNN’s website), but in Mass., Sanders got 41% of the non-white vote. Compared with all those states in the South, that’s stunning. So the racial divide is real and a problem for Sanders—don’t get me wrong—but it may be more complicated than people have claimed.

V. Outside the South, Sanders has won or come very close to winning every single state. From here on out, many of the states are much friendlier territory for him. Unless our brains are so completely scrambled by the Nate Silvers/Voxification of political life—where every poll is a destiny, every super-delegate a fact of nature, where everyone’s a crackpot realist rather than a citizen activist—it would be the definition of insanity to give up now. This is an uphill battle, always has been. So what? We move. Vorwärts. Always.


  1. jonnybutter March 2, 2016 at 10:29 am | #

    Clinton’s strongest weapon is the aura of inevitability that she and her supporters and the media have concocted around her.

    So true, just as it’s always been. Pierce that membrane enough and her biggest strength can become a weakness

    • Roquentin March 2, 2016 at 10:56 am | #

      I’ve arrived at the conclusion, however this turns out, there will be no decisive victory, no obvious moment when one or the other wins or loses. This thing will in all likelihood be a brawl all the way to the convention, and it’ll probably be close enough to be within the range of the superdelegates, which as we all know are in no way beholden to the popular vote. Are we on the way to another convention like ’68? I’ve wondered that for a long time too. “The whole world is watching” might work as a chant in 2016. If Clinton wins it’ll be a Pyrrhic victory. This election has really opened my eyes to a lot of things, particularly regarding media coverage, as I’m sure it has for many others. That’s not the kind of cat you can put back in the bag. Clinton may very well win, but it will do untold damage to what I’ll call the liberal establishment. An entire generation of kids who see you as sleazy con artists, willing to fight dirty when things don’t go your way, all in the name of throwing you under the bus for the sake of big banks and corporate donors.

      There’s this great line in Virginia Woolf’s “To The Lighthouse” which goes something like “Children never forget.” The kids aren’t going to forget this. You can be damn sure they’ll remember how they were shut down and bullied by the institutional power of the Democratic party.

  2. Brayden portillo March 2, 2016 at 11:18 am | #

    Im a Colorado Native. And a Latino.

    In colorado Bernie won the top 10 of the 15 Latino/Hispanic counties by huge margins. Adams by 23%, Weld by 22%, and Denver by 10%. Adams has 34% Latino, Weld is 25%. and Denver us 19% Latino. Those 3 counties make up 43% of the Latino Democratic population.

    You cannot win the state of Colorado as a Democrat by plus 15% points without the Latino Community.


  3. Sandwichman March 2, 2016 at 11:53 am | #

    Forget “the nomination.” IF Sanders somehow won the nomination against all spin and super-delegation, “the party” would sit on its hands in the general, just as in 1972 when the heretical McGovern won. Is it necessary to point out that the presidential electoral system is not democracy but a vaccination against democracy? It injects people with a tiny dose of deactivated demo-virus to build up their resistance against the real thing.

  4. Worthit March 2, 2016 at 12:09 pm | #

    But is this not the very thing Bernie’s campaign is all about, people? Yes…people. We don’t need the establishment or the DNC…we need people to get out and vote. People to not be apathetic or bullied by the system that has let them down for so long. Bernie gets this and his campaign is all about empowering the people, people! So let’s get out there and help him fight the system and politically revolt…for the people, by the people.

  5. CD March 2, 2016 at 12:22 pm | #

    You have a strong case that Sanders should carry on for the good of the cause and all that. He has the money and national attention — why not use it to advance socialism?

    But you look silly when you try to dive into the minutiae and make the case for a path forward, because you fail to confront actual numbers of *earned* delegates to this point — about 577 to 386. These are not superdelegates, but earned delegates.

    Senator Sanders himself said last night that the race is not decided by numbers of states won, but by delegates earned proportionally.

    If you are going to do the numbers you are in Nate Silver territory, and he’s maybe better at it than you are. Especially because Silver is absolutely not about “every poll is a destiny” — he’s a highly critical consumer of data.

    • Corey Robin March 2, 2016 at 12:53 pm | #

      It’s always a good idea not to be condescending, but especially when you’re wrong.

      First, Sanders has 399 delegates and Clinton has 596 delegates.

      Second, both of them need 2026 delegates to win. Thus far, Sanders is 20% of the way there, Clinton is 29% of the way there. Given how far they have to go, that’s not that much at all. We’re now moving into territory that’s friendlier to Sanders than most of the states have been thus far. He’s been slightly under-performing, she’s been slightly over-performing. There’s no reason to think that may not now be reversed.

      Last, when someone adds “ification” as a suffix to a noun — be it a person, place, or thing, or a concept — that generally means you’re reading a reference not to the noun itself but to the way in which the noun has become a cultural phenomenon, the way in which it has radiated out into the wider population. Often taking on a larger resonance and meaning that has little to do with the specifities of the original noun.

    • “You have a strong case that Sanders should carry on for the good of the cause and all that. He has the money and national attention — why not use it to advance socialism?”

      Because he is provided with these as a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. It to THAT use that he is putting these resources. And since he sustains policies that are decidedly progressive overall, Senator Sanders has the kind of support that he does. His supporters do NOT fund him so that he can “advance socialism” — they want that money spent on his campaign and they want the national attention he enjoys because of that campaign to be employed by that project. For Sanders to “advance socialism” is not the reason that I sent him thirty-five dollars (even though I am a socialist) and it is not why I intend to do it again.

      And again.

      • Oh, yeah — to ask Sanders to “advance socialism” is to ask his campaign to commit suicide. That is something that some would not mind seeing happen while concern trolling about his admirable purity and idealism in a quixotic pursuit while standing over the gravesite of his conveniently defunct campaign.

        Sanders is not stupid, and neither are his supporters.

  6. jonnybutter March 2, 2016 at 1:00 pm | #

    But you look silly when you try to dive into the minutiae

    You don’t make the case for this. Is 577 to 386 on March 1st your case? If so, who’s being silly? What is silly? (who cares what ‘looks’ silly?)

    You betray yourself when you say ‘make the case [for socialism] and all that’. I think you are mistaken if a.) you think Sanders is a true socialist (he’s not, alas), and b.) if you think rhetorical influence is what the OP argues that he stay in for. Pretty sure the point of the OP is that he stay in to actually win. Longer shots than Sanders have won nominations.

    • jonnybutter March 2, 2016 at 1:55 pm | #

      I’d also note that the sweep of southern states HRC won with overwhelming AA support (especially older AA support) are very unlikely to be in the Dem column in Nov. In other words, being a polarized minority in the state has serious ramifications, another of which is fact that AA elected officials in SC are quite dependent on the regular Dem party. That’s why they are so obviously beholden to the Clintons, the Party, etc. I’m not saying there are no other reasons, but the nexus of local leaders and Clinton herself spending time down there, has got to be quite powerful. Blend all that with the cynical rhetorical moves Nixon the Clintons are so good at, and they crush you.

      I think you can’t overstate the psychological element here. If people *think* it’s over, it certainly is. It *may* end one of these days no matter what, but it is *definitely* over if you quit now. It would indeed be *crazy* to quit now. The game plan for HRC has always been sweep early and then she’s ‘inevitable’. The South might be a bit of a chimera.

    • CD March 2, 2016 at 2:09 pm | #

      I pulled up the latest delegate count I could find. Indeed they vary as states do final counts and apply proportionality rules, but different versions do not tell materially different stories, right? I’m afraid our kind host is grasping at straws.

      No idea that wires I have tripped re “advance socialism.” I take Senator Sanders at his word that he’s a democratic socialist. If it would make people happier, I can just say I think his message, however it pleases you all to characterize it, has been largely salutary and worth getting out. Doing that through a competitive nomination process is great — it’s a space you can use. We have zero disagreement on what Sanders should do.

      I would ask people to think about what is left behind if Senator Sanders does not win the nomination. One problem, it seems to me, is that he’s a creature of one state who does not seem to have created a replicable model. How do you translate his supporters’ enthusiasm into sustainable success with other offices?

  7. Raven Onthill March 2, 2016 at 1:20 pm | #

    I’ve been saying for a while that I think the best outcome here might be for Clinton to become President, the Republicans to self-destruct, and Sanders go on to found a new party. That still doesn’t seem like a bad one, though I worry about crusty old general Clinton as President. Do we really need more wrong-headed strategic toughness?

    • ronp March 2, 2016 at 2:01 pm | #

      It is so hard to have a third party in the US — we need a parliamentary system to make it work I think.

      I wish I could vote for a more left wing party than the Democratic party. I don’t support Bernie due to electability concerns and I want a woman president, but I support his policies over Clinton.

      • Iain Green March 2, 2016 at 3:15 pm | #

        So you support Bernie’s policies over Clinton’s but will back Clinton because you doubt his electability and because you want a woman president? Haven’t you seen that Sanders does way better than Clinton against Trump in a succession of polls in the last month, by Fox and CNN of all people? My God, it’s attitudes like that that make me despair. And really, if you are that desperate for a woman president that you would actually choose someone who you placed second for policy, then [choosing my words VERY carefully] you should be very seriously questioning your priorities in my opinion.

        • ronp March 2, 2016 at 5:24 pm | #

          I just don’t think the policy differences between Sanders and Clinton are that great in regard what can get through the house and senate over the next eight years. Yes, you do have a point about elect-ability, but I still believe Clinton has an advantage with minority voters and being vetted.

          • “…but I still believe Clinton has an advantage with minority voters and being vetted.”

            Vetted for what, exactly, and by whom?

          • Mikep March 2, 2016 at 7:56 pm | #

            Really?! Email hill, still being investigated has a better chance at being vetted? The candidate her own party doesn’t trust!?

            And the argument that you’re going to vote Clinton for a woman potus, even though she’s less electable (you admit this now but in previous comment said otherwise), where do I begin…. Perhaps tulsai gabbard, who said Bernie has the judgment needed and won’t support regime change like Clinton. Big difference there. As evidenced by Iraq war vote of course. Also Clinton takes big money, corrupt $ at that. So if you think she’s getting ANYTHING done, you’re sadly mistaken. Nothing gets done unless we change a corrupt campaign finance system, something only Bernie has the guts to take on. I could tell you more but I’m guessing you don’t wanna hear it.

      • Raven Onthill March 2, 2016 at 6:15 pm | #

        ronp: I was thinking that if the Republicans self-destruct, there would be space for a new second party.

        Iain G: I doubt that Sanders would do better than Clinton in a general election, after every bruising lie, slander, and libel is dragged out. And Clinton does have name recognition going for her and, astonishing to me, the support of southern blacks.

  8. Aaron John March 2, 2016 at 1:30 pm | #

    Corey, I must respectfully ask: Why are you using CNN’s website to gauge/watch the exit polls? I’m sure you know of the Time Warner – Clinton relationship.

    If it is simply because it is convenient, I understand. I just thought you would be more inclined to look elsewhere for exit polls.

  9. xenon2 March 2, 2016 at 1:59 pm | #

    I agree with @Sandwichman.

    I gave money to Sanders,
    but I still have someone to vote for,
    and it not Hillary.

    Trump has racked up so many victories,
    the electoral delegates would have to be
    crazy not to pick him for Cruz, who no
    one can stand.But, hey, they might yet.

    Did you listen to Trump’s speech last

    Those who didn’t, and I think there are
    many, missed a good speech.The audience,
    mainly reporters, brought up some sharp

  10. Michael C March 2, 2016 at 2:24 pm | #

    III. strikes me as transparently bad reasoning. Obviously Sanders is likely to win among women (or x demographic) where he wins overall by a large margin, as he did in Vermont and New Hampshire. But that in itself says little about his appeal to those demographics. In those states he still fared around 12 points better among men which, glancing at the numbers, looks similar to other states.

    And that’s really the bulk of what people are getting at when they say Sanders’ success (to the extent it exists) is due to white men. It is a very large demographic, and by far his best one. Without it, close contests would turn into crushing losses and what you already describe as an ‘uphill battle’ would be quite impossible.

    Obviously the significance of that fact could be debated. But as far as I can tell, the numbers you cite do not call the fact itself into question.

    When you freely cherry-pick numbers and still fail to approach the point you would like to make, it might be worth some honest reflection on the charge of denial.

    • Corey Robin March 2, 2016 at 2:30 pm | #

      Maybe you have the causality completely backwards. Maybe the reason he won overall by a large margin in those states is that he did especially well among women. As you say, what’s consistent across the states is that he does better with men. What’s distinctive in these particular states is that he does especially well with women.

      No one’s denying that Sanders does well with white men. But to say that his success is due to them is just foolish. There’s no way that Sanders could have won the states he has won were it not for the support of women. You want to render them invisible b/c it suits your ideological purposes. That is worth some honest reflection on your part.

      • Michael C March 2, 2016 at 3:36 pm | #

        Except that he did not do ‘especially well with women’ in those states, on any interpretation where those words have any significance. He didn’t do significantly better than in other states relative to either his margin among other demographics or his overall margin. When those factors remain constant, it is reasonable to conclude that his ‘victory’ among women is parasitic on his overall support in the state, not vice versa.

        I also have no idea what you could mean by the claim that “There’s no way that Sanders could have won the states he has won were it not for the support of women.” Normally a statement like this would mean that Sanders would have lost those states if the votes of women were taken out of the equation. Certainly that is often what people mean (mutatis mutandis) when they say that Sanders could not have done x without the support of white men. And certainly that is suggested by your (offensive, false) claim that I am trying to render women invisible. But unless you can point to a state where Sanders won while doing better with women than with men, it is just false. On the contrary: Sanders would have done even better in those states without women, because he did better with men than with women.

        Now, of course you might mean that Sanders would have lost those states if, instead of winning among women he had lost badly among women. In Vermont, for example, this would require that instead of winning 83% of the vote among women, he won less than 10%. But that is hypothetical so remote that, again, it could hardly underwrite any meaningful claim that he won because of women.

        To see why, consider that on this interpretation, it could be true to say that candidate X won because of demographic D even if they lost that demographic handily. Indeed, that would be the case in any scenario where the minority of D that X did win was larger than their overall margin of victory. And that is the case much more frequently than we would consider it appropriate to say they won because of the support of D. While there is something to the thought that every vote counts, in itself it does little to illuminate the question of from where that candidate’s support derives.

        To be honest, it’s pretty astounding to see an argument evincing so little awareness of the role of demographics in electoral analysis from an employed political scientist.

    • Sandwichman March 2, 2016 at 3:13 pm | #

      Demographics don’t vote. The theory is that people MAY be motivated and mobilized to behave in a certain way based on experiences that they have in common.

      The template for that theory is the “class struggle theory of history.” The demographic/identitarian construct is a variation on the pluralist rebuttal to class analysis. If the latter is “essentialist,” the derivative counter-arguments are no less so.

      It strikes me as analytically backward to retroactively ATTRIBUTE motives and meanings to demographic or class fractions on the basis of an electoral outcome.

    • Mikep March 2, 2016 at 8:05 pm | #

      What’s your explanation of Sanders winning among white women, in SOUTH CAROLINA?

  11. Terry Ramsey Haskins March 2, 2016 at 3:14 pm | #

    52 year old white, married woman in Texas…….Bernie got my vote.

    • Sandwichman March 2, 2016 at 4:03 pm | #

      Obviously you need to spend more time gazing into the destiny of your demographic, sugar.

  12. xenon2 March 2, 2016 at 3:18 pm | #

    Did ANYONE listen to Trump’s Q&A last night?

    • Sandwichman March 2, 2016 at 4:03 pm | #

      Not I. Care to summarize?

  13. Hunter Heyck March 2, 2016 at 4:18 pm | #

    Super Tuesday confirmed the basic logic of the Democratic primary: Clinton was and is the heavy favorite, but Sanders has raised a surprisingly strong challenge to her nomination due to his authenticity, clear and (I think) inspiring message, and his appeal to younger voters. For him to win the nomination, however, he will need very high turnouts of people who don’t often vote in primaries (just as Obama did). So far, that hasn’t happened–2008 set records for votes in Dem primaries, and 2016 is below 2012, let alone 2008, except for the R’s, who are setting records (which alarms me–Trump may not be as easy to beat in the general election as I hope). Hence Clinton’s wins by large margins in the South and narrow victories in Iowa and MA, among other places. The Upper Midwest and Plains (west of the Mississippi) look to be more favorable for Sanders (e.g. Oklahoma’s results), but those are states with small populations and thus small numbers of delegates. The big question remaining, then, is: can Sanders get a big enough turnout of his voters, especially new/young voters, in the industrial Great Lakes states (especially IL, OH, and MI), in NY and FL, and in the West, especially CA, to win MOST of those states with sizable margins? If nothing major in the campaign dynamic changes, the answer will be no. If there is a big change–a Clinton scandal that actually is a scandal, say, or Sanders catching fire and having new/young voters show up in big numbers at the polls–then there’s a chance. I agree with Sanders on the issues more than with Clinton (I voted for him), but I think she’d be a good President too, and electing the first female president would be a very big deal.

  14. xenon2 March 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm | #

    To rouse you from your theoretical life inside academia,
    may I say what I believe in?
    No military, no borders, no private schools, public geothermal hvac, public health care only, etc.
    Israel has the right kind of health care system.

    Mexico’s treasury is owned by North American corporations.Sanders and Trump both know that
    heroin is a problem.At least, Trump knows this is the US #1 health issue.Trump talks about the
    beautiful pastures of NH, and amid all this beauty, people come up to say that their children are
    addicted to heroin.His answer is to build a wall.It’s the wrong answer.The correct answer is to stop
    all coups d’etat, whenever Latin America gets a leader of the people.The US may have to pay a
    little more for bananas.

    Opiates are the religion of the masses. —@glauncel (circa 2016) @medicalaxioms

    Did anyone listen to Trump’s Q&A last night?

  15. xenon2 March 2, 2016 at 4:57 pm | #

    I’m sorry, Sandwichman, I didn’t see your post until just now.
    I can’t summarize.

    Trump made mistakes, yes, but he’s not all that bad.
    Sanders makes mistakes.

    If Hillary gets the nomination,
    I’ll vote for Trump, who has tried waterboarding, yet.
    I recall Hitchens
    Watch this short video?

    • Bill Michtom March 6, 2016 at 4:19 am | #

      If you vote for Trump, you’re voting for a SCOTUS that will overturn Roe, that will leapt at the opportunity to overturn marriage equality, that will continue to destroy working people and disenfranchise minorities.

      While Clinton is vile in so many ways, her choice for SCOTUS will be less vile than Trump’s.

  16. Blog Commenter March 2, 2016 at 6:48 pm | #

    “Think about it. With the exception of Nevada, the states where there’s been dramatic support for Clinton among non-white voters have all been in the South.”

    A piece of supplemental research I’d like to see added is how this interrelates with religion and religiosity. I’m thinking of the graphic that ABC posted, which showed what people were talking about on facebook. And, sure, it’s dodgy and unscientific, but the Southern states where Sanders got beaten worst all had “Christianity.” If there’s substance underneath this — if Sanders is faring worst in the states with the most strongly religious (strongly protestant?) voters — then that would dramatically recolour what’s happening.

    • I think you make a damned good point about the “Christianity” thing, and I have seen no references to that so far. There is a history THERE regarding the intersection of African American religious faith, the Civil Rights Movement, the Democratic Party, along with generational differences — and that the Clinton’s are reaping unearned benefits therefrom. Are there any social science types looking into this? I, too, would be interested in any research findings.

      I don’t thing Sanders being Jewish is the issue so much as that Clinton’s support in the African American electorate may be a function of the place Black Christianity occupies in the historical advancement of Black liberation. The Clintons have history as an ally, doing the heavy lifting that they themselves have seen fit to take advantage of while doing all they could to make such heavy lifting necessary for Black liberation.

  17. Rolf Wiegand March 3, 2016 at 12:15 am | #

    Trump;s continuing victories disclose the depth of disaffection among the American people for their government. The Democratic Party doesn’t realize the depth of this disaffection. There are bread-and-butter as well as philosophical reasons for this disaffection. Bernie NEEDS to begin talking to Republican rank-and-file, explaining why he is a better solution to those problems than Trump or Clinton. He’s already gathering support among Democrats. Time for him to reach ‘across the aisle’.

  18. jonnybutter March 3, 2016 at 11:05 am | #

    I think he’s already doing that, Rolf. I don’t think it matters if they are actually Republicans. They could be, or could also just be just independents who usually vote GOP. Anyway, they are people who don’t normally vote for Democrats. I think a lot of people like that voted for Sanders in OK.

  19. Chris G March 3, 2016 at 10:42 pm | #

    > This is an uphill battle, always has been. So what? We move. Vorwärts. Always.

    I received the following during an email correspondence a couple months back:

    “There’s a whole philosophy of “change theory” about what actually helps people cultivate change in their lives and what doesn’t that I think we (especially in Puritan New England!) sometimes forget about. Deep change is slow, involves lots of false starts and short retreats alongside the exciting times of progress. In order to sustain commitment to deep change, there must be a sense of joy simply in one’s commitment to the goal of deep change. This joy inspires us to take risks, and it keeps us from being too harsh on ourselves when we face setbacks.”

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