Hillary Supporters, Don’t Get it Twisted — the Revolution can Happen
Supporters of Hillary Clinton have comforted themselves in the warm glow of delegate math. Her supports can look to 2008 and be comforted by the fact that President Obama’s lead over Clinton was never larger than 150 or so delegates. The likelihood of erasing a 200 plus pledged delegate lead is enough to put her supporters at ease.
But it shouldn’t.
Over the last few days, a number of polls have emerged showing Clinton and Sanders in a virtual tie. One by McClatchy/Marish show Sanders with a two point lead and a IBT/TIPP poll show the two candidates tied. In individual states, once large leads in New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania have been reduced significantly — largely on the back of young voters.
Clinton supporters can take solace from the fact that the McClatchy and IBD polls are unweighted. Both polls are raw counts of registered voters without likely voter screens that make educated guesses on who is likely to turnout. This is why these results differ from other polls that show Clinton ahead by 10 or so points.
While registered voters do not always turn into actual voters, these polls lend support to Sanders’ notion that “uuuge turnout” will benefit him. If you believe the revolution is really coming, then the unweighted polls are strong motivation to keep knocking on doors and making phone calls. If you think we’ll “revert to the mean,” and weighted polls are closer to reality, then you can sit back and wait for the revolution to fade.
For political scientists, it’s difficult to say whether this is some sort of transformative elections where the old rules of who votes and who doesn’t fail to apply. Because of this uncertainty, Clinton supporters should worry that even if Sanders doesn’t surpass her in the pledged delegate count, he mobilizes enough new voters to come close and frustrate her glide path to the nomination.
Coming close matters in the quest to unify the party. In 2008, President Obama’s unification mission was made easier by the fact that he was the candidate with the enthusiasm and narrative on his side. In 2016, the trailing candidate is the one with the enthusiasm and the narrative. Bringing those voters back into the fold for a candidate they see as a “corporate shill” won’t be as easy as Clinton supporters think.