How The DNC Leaks Are Actually A Big Deal

Despite all the love for balloons, the Democratic National Convention of 2016 will go down as one that did more to harm the chances of their candidate than it did to improve the chances of winning in November due to the DNC e-mail leaks. Before you chalk up this article to a political attack, please note I am neither a supporter of Donald Trump NOR Hillary Clinton. This article aims to give readers a real sense of how serious of a deal the e-mail leaks actually are and unraveling how they could affect the general election moving forward.

The DNC, The Leaks, and The Primary Process

You just can’t make this stuff up. Where does one even start honestly? Let’s start with some quick housekeeping to catch up all that are unfamiliar with the DNC and/or the leaks.

The DNC, or Democratic National Committee, is the governing body of the Democratic Party. They essentially help promote local, state, and national Democrats by assisting in mobilizing supporters, gaining media access and, most importantly, in fundraising. While the DNC provides support for all Democratic candidates, they do not have any legal binding over the candidates and are there to make sure all candidates receive a fair shot at each individual office. That unfortunately has not been the case. In what is believed to be a Russian cyber-attack, almost 20,000 e-mails from January 2015 to May 2016 were leaked through WikiLeaks, a whistleblowing website. A couple issues arose from these e-mails going public ranging from extremely unprofessional behavior from multiple DNC staffers to a downright bias against candidate Bernie Sanders. The bias includes:

  1. The DNC pushing on Sanders’ religion in areas where it could sway voters away from him.
  2. Clinton’s lawyer giving advice to the DNC on how to respond to Sanders’ camp’s claims of Clinton’s improper fundraising
  3. The DNC showing Sanders in a negative light as, “never ever (having) his act together, that his campaign was a mess.”
  4. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC, saying the following of Sanders: “Spoken like someone who has never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do.”
  5. Wasserman Schultz hinting at annoyance that Sanders hadn’t thrown in the towel in early May.

If you want to read more about the leaked e-mails, you can find them here or a summary of the most important ones here.

Apart from the leaks, there has been a lot of flak thrown at the DNC in regards to the timing and quantity of Democratic primary debates in this election. In 2015, the DNC announced that there would be a total of 6 debates (4 before the first votes were cast in Iowa). This later changed in late January when the Clinton campaign, who trailed in NH polls, requested an additional debate in New Hampshire. A deal was made with both Sanders’ and Clinton’s campaigns to add that debate as well as two others for a total of 9 debates in the 2016 election season. In comparison, there were 26 Democratic debates in the 2008 election season and an average of 14 debates per year from 1984–2008 according to the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Another issue was the timing of the debates. Three of the first four debates took place on Saturday and Sunday nights during the same time as NFL football games. One date in particular, Sunday January 17th, was particularly odd as there were two NFL divisional playoffs games scheduled and the debate went head up against one of them. There were major complaints against the DNC forfavoring the frontrunner, Hillary, and not giving voters key access to viewing other candidates as noted by many news outlets.

Finally, but probably most importantly, let’s touch on the topic of superdelegates in the Democratic nominating process. There are two types of delegates in the Democratic party. There are around 4,000 pledged delegates, broken down by state, that are awarded to the candidate at the proportionate rate of how that candidate fared in the state’s primary or caucus. If a candidate wins 40% of California’s vote they receive 40% of California’s delegates. There are also around 700 superdelegates made up of sitting Democratic governors, Senators, House Representatives, current/former Presidents and Vice Presidents & members of the Democratic National Committee. These superdelegates, unlike pledged delegates, are not bound to a candidate regardless of how that superdelegate’s state voted. Now if that doesn’t sound very democratic, where representatives are elected by general population, that’s because it isn’t. Bernie Sanders amassed 45.5% of the pledged delegates but only managed to get 7% of the superdelegate vote. In regards to the DNC superdelegate votes (you know, those people who were pushing Bernie out of the spotlight in similar fashion to what Beyoncè did to Coldplay at SB50), Bernie only managed to get 34 of 345 casted votes.

But now that we are caught up on 2016, let’s dive back in time a bit.

The History of Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Let’s start at Clinton’s 2008 run at presidency where Wasserman Schultz is named a co-chair of Clinton’s national campaign, campaigning for her throughout the latter half of 2007 and all of 2008 before switching to the presumptive nominee, Barack Obama. Later in 2011, Wasserman Schultz was tapped as the new chair of the Democratic National Committee despite only serving as one of the organization’s vice chairs for two years. Who did she replace? Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice president pick, who stepped down from the position to run for a US Senate seat. This reason would seem legitimate, except many DNC chairs have ran/held public office while being the DNC’s chair including Wasserman Schultz who ran for re-election for her House seat in 2012 & 2014.

To repeat and summarize for emphasis, Wasserman Schultz is a former national chair of Hillary’s ’08 campaign before ascending to the DNC’s top position after the resignation of Tim Kaine. Kaine then goes on to be Hillary’s VP pick in 2016. The DNC then shows incredible bias against Hillary’s only real competition, Bernie Sanders, in the 2016 election. This is leaked and Wasserman Schultz resigns only to rejoin Clinton’s campaign as her honorary chair of her 50 state campaign. You might be asking yourself if you are reading a script from Netflix’s popular show, House of Cards. If the show producers were struggling for a plotline to jump to next season, they might have found some juicy substance.

The Repercussions

The singular, most notorious person in America who is in hot water due to e-mail controversy decides to hire the top official of the DNC who had to resign over a separate e-mail controversy. Before some of go old-school Bernie and say “we’re sick and tired of hearing about her damn e-mails”, let’s put some context of why this is relevant.

Benghazi and Hillary’s e-mail controversy are essentially two separate issues. One could debate and attempt to defend her decisions in regards to her actions, or lack thereof, in Benghazi, however it would be hard for one to defend Clinton’s egregious mistake of keeping highly classified material from her position as Secretary of State on a private e-mail server. This is becoming more and more clear as we see that cyber warfare is quickly becoming an all too real reality. Her failure to do that has caused distrust with a large amount of voters.

A recent CNN poll found that 68% of people found her to be not honest and untrustworthy. That same poll also showed her favorability rating sink to the lowest figure yet at 39%, four points less than Donald Trump’s. CBS has showed similar numbers in their poll of the same topics. In addition to that poll, 48% of people and even one-quarter of Democrats polled view Hillary’s e-mail mistake as “a major problem” according to another poll done by the Morning Consult. 50% of people view Clinton’s use of a private server as illegal and another quarter weren’t sure if it was legal or not. Keep in mind these numbers are all pre-DNC e-mail leak.

But the biggest hurdle for Hillary to overcome is shown in the previous CNN poll. 45% of Democrats that voted in primaries still want Bernie Sanders as their candidate. Hillary has continually dropped as Democrats’ choice and now stands at 49%. This was evident at the Democratic National Convention with the overwhelming support for Bernie despite his push for Hillary and Tim Kaine. Feel The Bern support came from the opening “prayer” session and continued at every “vote for Hillary” plug.

It’s blatantly obvious that Bernie supporters aren’t ready to flock to Hillary and it seems unlikely that hiring the head chair of the DNC, who stacked the deck against their candidate, will help woo those supporters to her cause. Whether you’re liberal or conservative there is no denying that Hillary has taken a campaign altering risk in bringing Wasserman Schultz on board. With more leaks to come, only time will tell how this almost unfathomable story will finish in November.