Friday, May 6, 2016

Why Sanders might be the most formidable Dem against Trump

Nobody thought we'd be here.  Nobody.

It's not just the mind boggling fact that Donald Trump is going to be the Rebublican nominee, but also the fact that the Republican primary has ended before the Democrats fully nailed down their choice.

But here we are.

So, let's take a look at the Democrat race so far and look at it through the lens of who would make the best candidate against "The Donald".

Should it be Hillary or Bernie?

Sure, all the polls and the conventional wisdom say either one will beat the "Blowhard Billionaire", but at this point national polls are really meaningless and this race will be anything but conventional.

Still, we here at aShortChronicle like our numbers and so we took a look at the results of the Democratic Party primaries to date to see if anything stood out when looking at a general election.

It was a bit more interesting than you might think.

Take a look at the below chart which has the delegate counts from the actual primaries and caucuses.  It does not include Super Delegates.  The color scheme and assumptions are explained below.

In the general election all that really matters is the Electoral College.  The color coding is based on how states are likely to vote in the Electoral College based on the results from the 2012 election.

The primaries marked in yellow don't factor in the analysis because they don'thave Electoral College votes.

The states marked in red are states where Romney won by 10 points or more.  There are a couple of exceptions where it was only 8 or 9 points, but it is still likely that Trump wins these states even if he significantly underperforms Romney's result from last cycle.

Said another way, the outcome of the Democratic primary is meaningless in the red states when it comes to the general election.  For example, Clinton's biggest delegate haul to date was in Texas, but does anyone believe Texas will be blue this year even with Trump as the Republican nominee?

The blue states are likely Democrat Electoral College states.  Those are divided into three shades of blue.  Darkest blue is a solid Sanders primary win.  Medium blue is a solid Clinton primary win.  Light blue is where the difference in their delegate count from the primary was 3 or less.

Here's the first interesting thing.

When you add up the delegates from these blue states, Sanders actually has 57 more delegates chosen to date by actual voters in solid Democrat states.

The green states were coded this way actually because Trump is the Republican candidate. Both Michigan and Pennsylvania are likely blue states for any other Republican.  However, they are also states with high concentrations of blue collar white voters.  That's a group that has been particularly drawn to Trump's populist message - particularly on trade.  That's the same message Sanders has been using on that issue.

If Clinton is the nominee instead of Sanders, some of the Sanders voter may end up in the Trump camp.

Now, before you roll your eyes too much on that one.  Read this.

On the morning of the Pennsylvania primary, former state Governor Ed Rendell was on NPR downplaying Clinton's expectations.  He actually said that Clinton might not get as many voters in the state as she did in 2008 against Obama.  She didn't come close.  Rendell actually said that was in part because a decent chunk of that white, blue collar demographic had gone to Sanders, and yes, to Trump as well.   Overall Dem turnout in Pennsylvania was off about 29% from 2008 and Clinton received 342k fewer votes than she did 8 years ago.

Even if you discount that theory and treat Michigan and Pennsylvania as blue states, Sanders has 37 more delegates chosen by voters in blue states.

The purple states are the familiar swing states in recent elections.  Clinton has a solid advantage in those states.  That alone could be why she is the best choice.  The unanswered question here is will Sanders voters be guaranteed Clinton voters in the general if their guy is not the nominee.

That's probably less likely than if it was ths other way around.  This was also pointed out on a recent NPR segment.  In 2008, Clinton worked hard to get her supporters behind Obama.  She was true blue, life long Democrat.  Sanders isn't.  He was until this election an independent who proudly called himself a socialist.  For him and his followers, pushing to support Clinton will be seen as selling out.

All of this begs the question, who really is the best candidate to take on Trump?

At this point in the race it is hard to say it is definitely not Sanders.

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