Today’s Hillary News & Views begins with coverage of yesterday’s primary elections, which included Clinton’s widest margin of victory to date in Mississippi, and a narrow but surprising loss in Michigan.
Since delegates are awarded proportionately in the Democratic nominating process, a Clinton landslide in Mississippi could impact the overall delegate race more than a narrow win for Sanders in Michigan, despite its size and importance.
In the proportional system, margins often matter more than wins. A narrow win splits delegates roughly evenly, giving the winner only a handful more than delegates than the loser. But a big win awards a big prize.
For instance, in the eight states Sanders has won, he has netted a total of 76 delegates (Sanders’ delegates minus Clinton’s). Clinton, meanwhile, has netted 129 delegates in four states alone — South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana. And depending on the margin in Mississippi tonight, Clinton could end up doubling Sanders’ delegate net in Deep South states alone.
Sanders has not bothered competing in Mississippi, given Clinton’s enormous margins among African-Americans. “Today begins the most important seven-day stretch of our campaign: tonight, Michigan votes. Next week, Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Missouri, and North Carolina follow suit,” Sanders said in a fundraising email sent to supporters Tuesday, omitting the primary in Mississippi today.AP reports:
Going into Tuesday's contests, Clinton was 58 delegates short of halfway to the 2,383 delegates needed to claim the Democratic prize. Her Mississippi win and share of Michigan delegates put her over that marker.
Of more consequence is her more than 2-to-1 delegate lead over Sanders: 1,134 to 502, before Tuesday's results.
Clinton's lead in delegates is cushioned by her lopsided advantage with the party insiders known as superdelegates, who can support anyone. They can change their mind before the convention, though that is unlikely to happen short of a meltdown of the Clinton campaign.
Further coverage of yesterday’s primaries.
Washington Post reports:
Clinton now leads in Mississippi 83-16 with 48 percent of precincts reporting, which would be her biggest win of the primary season so far. Her previous best was in neighboring Alabama, at 78-19.
The reason Southern states have been called Hillary Clinton's firewall is not complicated. Clinton leads by a wide margin nationally with older voters, with women and with black voters. Bernie Sanders leads with younger voters, men and white voters. In every state, there are a lot of voters of varying ages and there are lots of men and women.
The fact that the electorate was so heavily black and that black voters were so heavily supportive of Clinton means that Clinton's other advantages were also heightened. Among older voters -- many of whom were black -- Clinton again drove up a huge margin. Six in 10 voters were 45 or older, and 9 in 10 of them went for Clinton, too.Washington Post also has a piece about Clinton's hyper-local focus, which is characterized here solely in terms of its impact on her campaign, but in my opinion, has more relevance to Clinton’s focus on Democrats winning up and down the ballot:
It is part of a pattern for Clinton. She’s approached every primary more like it was a Senate race than a presidential election by identifying a local issue that would play to her advantage and then championing it.
Clinton is also overwhelmingly favored to win today’s Democratic primary in Mississippi, where she’s been speaking extensively about the levels of lead in Jackson’s water. The city is predominantly African American, and Jackson’s mayor cited her attentiveness to the issue as the reason he chose to endorse her.
It’s not just infrastructure. Clinton has campaigned against voter ID laws in Alabama and Missouri, a religious freedom bill in Arkansas, as well as right to work legislation in Illinois, Missouri and West Virginia. She supported a settlement that New Orleans's Democratic mayor negotiated with FEMA and lauded a student loan refinancing program unveiled by Minnesota's Democratic governor.
The former first lady has also, in recent weeks, decried state-level efforts to limit access to abortion or defund Planned Parenthood in Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma.
Clinton’s strategy allows her to bypass the national media’s unhelpful focus on process, not to mention her State Department emails and Goldman Sachs speeches, and campaign on her own terms. The campaign sees the emphasis on parochial concerns as a way for Hillary, who has been ensconced in a Secret Service bubble for 24 years, to show relatability, as well as highlight her progressive positions, brandish her policy chops and demonstrate that she’s running for the right reason (to help people, not just advance herself).Nate Silver has some preliminary analysis on the difference between the polls and the results:
The question I am asking myself now is whether this means the polls are off in other Midwest states that are holding open primaries. I’m talking specifically about Illinois and Ohio, both of which vote next Tuesday. The FiveThirtyEight polling average in Illinois gives Clinton a 37 percentage point lead, while the average in Ohio gives her a 20 percentage point lead. If Michigan was just a fluke (which is possible), then tonight will be forgotten soon enough. If, however, pollsters are missing something more fundamental about the electorate, then the Ohio and Illinois primaries could be a lot closer than expected.
Either way, this result will send a shock wave through the press. Heck, as a member of the press, you might be able to tell how surprised I am. This will likely lead to increased press coverage of the Democratic race, which Sanders desperately needs to be competitive next Tuesday and beyond.
Sanders must rack up big wins and fast. Thanks to an 83 percent to 16 percent win in Mississippi, Clinton gained in the overall delegate count on Tuesday and leads Sanders by more than 200 pledged delegates. Her strong performance in Mississippi also put Sanders further behind his FiveThirtyEight delegate targets. That may not be as sexy as the tremendous upset in Michigan, but math is rarely sexy.
Sanders, however, can breathe a deep sigh of relief that all the states in the Deep South have already voted. He can hope that tonight’s Michigan win will help propel him to victory or at least make him more competitive in states with large delegate prizes left like California, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. We’ll see if it does.Finally, this Politico article is framed as being about Sanders’ struggling with the black vote, but it’s really more about the longstanding connection that both Clintons have in African-American communities. It’s a beautiful read:
Hillary Clinton’s support among African-Americans only surprises whites who caricature black politics as blindly radical, and radicals blinded with rage who unfairly blame Bill Clinton for the mass incarceration problem. The Clintons’ relationship with the African-American community has been deep and mutually beneficial, and it’s showing in the election tallies. Distorting the historical record ignores both Clintons’ warm ties to African-Americans and their impressive contributions to racial reconciliation, especially in the 1990s.
As the first Baby Boomers living in the White House, Bill and Hillary Clinton were the first president and First Lady shaped by the civil rights movement. Bill Clinton attributes his faith in government to Dwight Eisenhower’s integration of Little Rock public schools in 1957. During the debate, Hillary Clinton once again thanked her Methodist “church and youth minister,” Don Jones, for shaping her social conscience by exposing her to America’s challenges, “insisting that we go in to inner-city Chicago because I lived in a suburb, and have exchanges with kids in black and Hispanic churches.”
Three decades later, as a presidential contender, Bill Clinton tracked deindustrialization’s impact on the working class and minorities. Professor William Julius Wilson’s analysis that blacks were now more menaced by economic decline than racial prejudice convinced Clinton that mass prosperity would improve race relations. During the 1992 campaign, Wilson praised Clinton in the New York Times for having “destroyed the myth that blacks will only respond if a candidate highlights race-specific issues and programs.” Stricken by "unemployment and concerned about adequate health-care coverage and education,” African-Americans were showing “their political sophistication” by supporting a candidate who addressed their broad needs “without narrowly focusing his message on race.”
Even the current backlash within the black community against Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill, for causing “the mass incarceration machine” is more complicated than it seems. The nearly two million violent crimes committed in 1993, Clinton’s inaugural year, represented a sevenfold increase since 1960. Fear of crime was ubiquitous. Reporters sensationalized some crimes, including the kidnap-murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas from her own slumber party, while many victims no longer bothered reporting others. By 1994, 37 percent of Americans surveyed considered crime America’s biggest problem.
This was especially true in the African-American community, which suffered disproportionately from the problem. Hence at the time blacks and whites were equally enthusiastic about a bill promising 100,000 more police officers patrolling America’s streets. Two-thirds of the Congressional Black Caucus supported the bill, taking pride in the prevention programs and gun ban. In one survey, 64.5 percent of African-Americans supported “passing a law requiring life imprisonment for anyone convicted of three serious crimes.”
As president, while appointing a diverse Cabinet that “looked like America,” while socializing with African-American friends, Clinton also spoke to blacks naturally, directly, candidly, without most white liberals’ self-conscious, self-righteous stiffness. Aware that “law and order” often meant “whites blame blacks,” Clinton framed crime as an all-American moral issue. He addressed African-Americans directly as the Great American Crime Wave’s greatest victims, six times more likely to be murdered. The Great Empath mourned that black children feared going to unsafe schools; some were even picking out their own burial outfits.
As First Lady, Hillary Clinton also recognized the underlying issue as ensuring that the nation “doesn’t just talk about family values, but acts in ways that values families.” She charged that “American children are immersed in a culture of violence.” She criticized television violence that “exacerbates stereotypes” of “African-American and Latino youth.” In her 1995 best-seller It Takes a Village one chapter preached against crime, another against racism. Cherry-picking expressions like “superpredators” that she used back then, to try branding her racist today—as the Sanders campaign has implied--ignores the extensive vocabulary both Clintons deployed against the carnage on the screens and the streets.
Beyond policy, healing moments in the 1990s like the anniversaries of the Little Rock Nine and the Civil Rights March at Selma forged the Clinton-African-American alliance. Blacks also noticed symbols of natural friendship, such as how African-Americans like Vernon Jordan and Betty Currie were trusted members of the president’s inner circle during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Calling Bill Clinton “the first black president” was silly, but he may have been the first president who reassured blacks he had their backs. When Clinton retired, more than two-thirds of Americans surveyed, black and white, assessed race relations positively. Today, that figure has dropped below 50 percent.