26. April 2016

US Elections Series I: Has Hillary Already Won or Might She Still Get Berned?

In German Media and commentary, it appears that the Democratic race only has one candidate: Hillary Clinton. However, despite her lead there are obstacles in her way that could make her fall.

A comment by Sylvia Wittmer


After her 16 % win over Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton by the numbers seems to be unstoppable, currently needing a little more than 400 delegates to secure the nomination. While it appears that Sanders campaign lost a little steam immediately afterwards with him choosing to take two days off (which he now stated was to meet with the Pope), he is still campaigning in the states up for primaries today (26.04.). While his chances seem to be slim, he still has the financial support to keep running, yet most commentators expect him to loose out to Clinton in the end. However there are a couple of obstacles that might be in her way to the finish line at the Democratic Convention.

The Bern Has Gone Viral.

The first obstacle is still the phenomenon of Bernie Sanders. If you belong to my age group and haven’t already been strongly rooted in other traditions in American politics, chances are that your perception does not correspond to the numbers. If you open your social media account, Bernie is everywhere.

He has managed to recreate to a certain extent the “Obama Effect” recruiting first time voters and incinerating their passion for politics. If you look at social media, it appears that a lot of people are feeling the Bern and want the fire to spread. Additionally to the campaigning, Bernie Sanders has also used grassroot techniques for his finance, having people literally being invested in the success of his campaign. He illustrates the contrast between what money and what a real movement can create while maintaining true to his principles. As even noted by Vice-President Joe Biden shortly before today’s election in his home state of Delaware, stating that he would take Bernie Sanders aspirational approach over Ms Clinton’s caution. This authenticity is what Hillary lacks.

However, sympathies and young voters alone don’t win US presidential elections of course. The main obstacle Sanders faces is the fact that despite being a long active political person connected to the Democratic Party, he is not “royalty” like Clinton. So realistically the numbers are against him. Besides Clinton’s major lead in delegates, she is part of the traditional establishment of the Democratic Party and has a former President in her corner which does favour her for the vote of the Superdelegates at the DNC.

This however does not mean that Sanders should drop out. First of all, if he did many first time voters would be crushed. Their desillusion with the existing political caste of the Clintons, the Bushes and the Bible Belt crazies confirmed, they might choose to not vote at all as a recent poll in the New York Times stated that almost a quarter of Sanders’ supporters would not support Clinton as the presidential nominee. Their attitude might change if he gets beaten fair and square rather than being pushed out by the establishment.

Let’s Talk About Her Damn E-mails.

Hillary Clinton is currently still under investigation regarding her use of a private less secure e-mail server during her time as Secretary of State. While being indicted might not be an immediate ground for disqualification, her support by the free Superdelegates will be affected by criminal charges and commentators assume that the Democratic Party will no longer support her bid for the nomination. In this scenario, numerically Bernie still has a chance since her lead currently consists mainly of the Superdelegates (before today’s elections in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, Hillary had a lead of 750 delegates, out of which 513 were Superdelegates who can decide to change their vote).

However, Clinton’s downfall does not result in Bernie being elected automatically. Some say that Bernie remains unelectable. In a personal conversation on Thursday, Former Governor of Colorado Bill Owens stated that he considers the entrance of Joe Biden into the race as highly likely in this scenario. But due to his aforementioned positive remarks regarding Sanders‘ campaign and the personal issues that kept him from entering the race, other candidates have been brought up. Former House Speaker Newt Gingerich sees Elisabeth Warren is another possible replacement, as he stated in a recent interview. He has remained untainted by the race thus far and due to his track record as Vice-President, he has the benefit that people did already see him “doing the job”.

Feeling the Bern?

Hillary herself seems to be feeling the Bern since it has been reported that she unnecessarily invested much of her funds into the campaign for the primaries held today, despite the fact that they numerically are not as important as other states for her lead on Bernie. She has been in this situation before that a highly unlikely candidate has beaten her in the primary campaign in which she started as the contender. Furthermore, her spendings also endanger her campaign in the long run since unlike Sanders her main funds do not stem from a continuous flow of small donations. So even if she overcomes the above mentioned legal troubles and lack of personal support, despite her historic bid for the presidency she might simply run out of money to compete with her Republican counterpart.

So while we will see how Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island will influence the numbers, the real decision about the future of the Democratic Party will be made on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.

This article is part of our temporary coverage of the US presidential elections 2016. If you want to join Polis180 and contribute to this series, please contact our Peace and Security Programme. The Polis Blog serves as a platform at the disposal of Polis180’s members. Published comments express solely the authors‘ opinions and shall not be confounded with the opinions of the editors or of Polis180. Image: http://bit.ly/1YRm9gk.


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