Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders won a landslide victory in West Virginia on May 10, beating Hillary Clinton by fifteen points. With that victory, Sanders has won 19 state primaries, and his campaign is now in a position to do very well in the remaining primaries.
West Virginia is a state, where Clinton crushed Obama and won by over 40 points in 2008. This time around she lost by double digits.
About 18 pledged delegates were awarded to Sanders while 11 pledged delegates were awarded to Clinton. It brought the number of pledged delegates Sanders needs to bypass her in the pledged delegate count down to approximately 280 pledged delegates.
Altogether, 897 pledged delegates are still up for grabs in the remaining primaries and caucuses: Kentucky, Oregon, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, California, New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia.
The victories in West Virginia and Indiana come at a moment when the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, is surging in general election polls, where he is matched up against Clinton.
On April 27, Public Policy Polling (PPP) released a poll showing Trump and Clinton were tied. An Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP poll put out two days later showed Trump gaining ground on Clinton, who was only up seven percentage points. A previous poll by Investor’s Business Daily released on April 4 had Clinton winning by twelve points.
While a CNN/ORC poll had Clinton up 13 points, in each of these polls (except for one), Sanders was ahead of Trump by higher margins. And another PPP poll released on May 10 showed Clinton beating Trump by six points while Sanders would win by eleven points.
Quinnipiac polled the swing states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and released results the day of the West Virginia primary. The results suggested Clinton is only up by one point in Florida. She is behind Trump by four points in Ohio. She is ahead only one percentage point in Pennsylvania. However, the same poll showed Sanders beating Trump by six points in Pennsylvania and winning by two percentage points in Florida and Ohio.
Since March, polls have regularly indicated Trump would probably narrowly defeat Clinton if the general election was held that day. On the other hand, Sanders would narrowly defeat Trump or beat him by a decent margin if he was the Democratic nominee.
The fact that Sanders polls as a stronger candidate against Trump than Clinton has been a huge part of the campaign’s appeal to superdelegates to switch their support from Clinton to Sanders. Such an appeal becomes easier if Sanders goes on a streak and wins all but one or two of the remaining primaries and caucuses.
Unfortunately for voters, the establishment news media has not explored this possibility. There has been plenty of coverage of how Sanders would likely fail to contest the primary at the convention. There has been hours upon hours of coverage of whether Sanders can convince supporters to back Clinton during the general election. But next to no one in the establishment news media has explored what happens if Clinton loses California, and does not win another state primary or caucus—except for New Jersey.
Let’s pivot to another issue: The Clinton campaign, as well as the Democratic Party, insist on championing closed primaries, which suppress voter turnout.
Liberal pundits focused on one particular result from exit polls, which showed 44 percent of West Virginia voters would vote for Trump in the general election. Thirty-six percent would vote for neither Sanders nor Clinton. Twenty-three percent would vote for Clinton.
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Supposedly, this proves why there should be no open primaries, where independents or Republicans can vote in Democratic primaries. Only Democrats should pick the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. If independents want to vote in closed Democratic primaries, they should register as Democrats or wait for an “Independent Party” to actually form.
As former Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader argues, “If the parties want to pay for their own primaries with their own private money, that’s one thing. But you don’t have taxpayer-supported official primaries that become the private preserve of closed primaries, Democrat or Republican.”
The problem with closed primaries is not simply that independents, who refuse to affiliate with either of the two most prominent parties, are not allowed to vote. Closed primaries help to suffocate the development and rise of any other parties, which might become popular and subvert the two-party system by giving voters alternatives to the status quo.
It is outrageous to Democrats when non-Democrats or Trump supporters vote in open primaries for Sanders, even though Sanders is not abandoning any of his democratic socialist values to win their votes. Clinton has to pander to progressives to win their votes—shift her position on the minimum wage, natural gas fracking, Social Security, trade agreements, health care, etc. Sanders stays consistent on issues.
Apparently, citizens are supposed to find a candidate who appeals to non-Democrats appalling, while a candidate who courts Republican donors on Wall Street is perfectly acceptable. Perhaps the reason for this attitude displayed by the Clinton campaign and liberal pundits is that Sanders is respected and, in fact, supported by voters across the political spectrum to a much larger degree than Clinton.
The Associated Press reported, “Clinton is in the mop-up phase now, 94 percent of the way to the magic number when the party insiders known as superdelegates are included, and on track to clinch the nomination in early June.”
The AP and other outlets have informed voters Clinton is less than 200 delegates from clinching the nomination. Those superdelegates can switch from backing Clinton to supporting Sanders at any time before the convention. Including superdelegates in delegate counts is improper.
“The way the media has been reporting this is incorrect,” Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on MSNBC on February 27. “There aren’t pledged delegates, i.e. super delegates, earned at any of these primary or caucus contests. Those unpledged delegates are elected officials, party leaders, people who have spent years and years in the Democratic Party. Members of Congress, our DNC members are super delegates. And they have the ability to decide who they choose to support at the convention at any point.”
The chair of the DNC, which is rigging the convention against Sanders, even admits media should not include superdelegates when reporting on primaries and caucuses. Yet, outlets continue to do just that and produce ridiculous stories that insinuate, despite Sanders’ wins, Clinton really came out ahead because the superdelegates in any given state support her.
Unless Clinton wins enough pledged delegates to cross the 2,384-threshold, she will not clinch the nomination before the convention.
Finally, the establishment news media push this narrative that the Sanders campaign is bringing undue hardship to the Clinton campaign that will impair its ability to defeat Trump. Trip Gabriel of the New York Times suggested Sanders is forcing Clinton to “continue a costly and distracting two-front battle: to lock down the Democratic nomination and to take on Donald J. Trump in the general election.”
This characterization seems quite pompous. The Sanders campaign believes the primary is not over until all 50 states have voted. It intends to give all voters in the entire United States the opportunity to choose between the corporate Democrat backed by the Democratic Party establishment and the insurgent democratic socialist, who has achieved success as the result of a popular uprising.
Staying in the race encourages democracy, while condemning Sanders for “prolonging” the primary race stifles democratic participation in the election and diminishes the potential for voters to use the process to bring attention to critical issues in their communities.