Tag Archives: Iowa caucuses

Will Bernie break our hearts?

Image result for Bernie leaves hospital

In the video grab above, Bernie Sanders leaves a Las Vegas hospital yesterday after what first was reported on Tuesday as “chest discomfort” during a campaign event and then later was confirmed to have been a heart attack. This bad news came after it was reported that Bernie had raised more money than did any other Democratic presidential candidate in the third quarter. Bernie’s campaign says that he is doing well and that he intends to participate in the next primary debate, which will be on October 15.

News of the apparent heart attack that Bernie Sanders had on Tuesday while campaigning his heart out in Nevada predictably raised the question of his age (he is 78 years old now, and if elected, would enter the Oval Office at age 79, making him the oldest president we’ve had).

Two stents were placed in one of Bernie’s coronary arteries, he was released from the hospital yesterday, and his campaign says that he intends to participate in the October 15 debate in Ohio.

Will this sink Bernie?

I don’t think so. It gives those who weren’t supporting him anyway a(nother) “reason” to justify their self-defeating snubbing of the most consistently progressive presidential candidate that we have, but those of us who steadfastly have stood by Bernie will continue to do so.

As long as Bernie does well in his public appearances and has no more significant medical incidents, I expect this to blow over. It’s early October, after all, and the first voting isn’t until February 3, when the Iowa caucuses take place — and this is the United States of Amnesia.

And I think it’s fair to ask the question if it’s OK to stigmatize someone for having had a medical event after which one can, with medical attention, live normally and capably for many years. I know that if I had a heart attack but most likely still had several decent years of life left, I wouldn’t want to be written off.

Good news for Bernie from this past week is that in the third fundraising quarter of this year, he raised more money than did any other Democratic presidential contender — $25.3 million.

Close behind him was Elizabeth Warren, with $24.6 million, and poor Uncle Joe Biden raised only $15.2 million — he was eclipsed even by Boy Scout Pete Buttigieg, who raised $19.1 million. (Unlike Bernie and Warren, the center-right Buttigieg [like Biden] takes contributions from Big Money, though, so don’t take that fundraising figure as grassroots support for him that doesn’t actually exist.)

If fundraising is a measure of excitement for your campaign — and I think that it is for those few who, like Bernie, don’t take money from corporations and lobbyists and other power players — then Biden should be shitting his Depends. (Ah, c’mon; I had to go there…)

On that note, Biden continues to drop in the polls. Right now his nationwide polling average is around 27 percent, and Warren is nipping at his heels, with an average of almost 24 percent.

Bernie is at third place, with 16 percent, and after Bernie, at a rather distant fourth place, is Buttigieg, with around 6 percent. (Poor charisma-free Kamala Harris, who yet has to make a compelling case as to why she should be president, is at fifth place, with around only 5 percent.)

As I’ve noted about a million times before, I expect Biden to tank, as he did when he ran for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1988 and in 2008, and, as long as Bernie’s health holds up, I expect 2020 to be a race between Bernie and Warren.

It can’t be a direct comparison to the 2016 Bernie-vs.-Billary race, because while Billary only “found” progressivism rather late in the game during the 2016 cycle, this time around, from the get-go, Warren deftly has mimicked Bernie’s progressive angle while at the same time not pissing off the Democratic Party establishment hacks.

Warren, it seems to me, has a very good chance of winning this thing (the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination, I mean).

Unfortunately, Warren also has a good chance of losing in November 2020 — I still believe that Warren’s No. 1 weakness is that she so easily can be painted by the Repugnicans as just another clueless, weak egghead from Massachusetts, as was Michael Dukakis in 1988 and John Kerry in 2004.

Perhaps only the increasingly obvious and absolutely undeniable mega-corruption of the unelected Pussygrabber regime (including a copious amount of treason) can overcome this “swiftboating” tactic that has worked pretty well for the Repugnicans in the past.

P.S. With his hectic campaign schedule and his famously impassioned speeches, one might wonder why it took this long for Bernie to have a heart attack. Just sayin’…

I’m thinking that Bernie might want to slow down. He has, I think, built up enough political capital that he can relax just a little, at least for a little while.

Biden should tank, so Bernie probably doesn’t have to worry about Biden, and Team Bernie should, I think, emphasize the fact that he was an avowed progressive decades before Elizabeth Warren, who was a Repugnican as late as the 1990s, decided to join the club.

It’s a fair criticism — it is true, and it is, to me, anyway, at least a bit concerning.

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Bernie now No. 1 in WaPo’s ranking

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake’s quasi-quarterly ranking of the 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidates has Bernie Sanders topping the list of 15.

(Blake notes that “this list is in order of likeliness to be the Democratic nominee” and also notes that “The field is also largely set now, with just a few big question marks outstanding,” with which I pretty much agree.

The Post notes that Bernie returns to No. 1, but I don’t remember that he ever made No. 1 before — that spot usually was reserved for establishmentarian candidates who weren’t actually No. 1, like Kamala Harris.)

In ranking him at No. 1, Blake too-briefly notes of Sanders: “Sanders’s $18.2 million raised in the first quarter tops in the field. Now we’ll see if he can rekindle some of the magic of 2016, which I’m not sure we’ve really seen just yet. It would sure help if he can get past this tax-return unforced error.”

Even while calling him No. 1, the establishmentarian, corporately owned and controlled media can’t resist taking a shot at Bernie.

Bernie’s “tax-return unforced error,” I guess, is that although he’s been railing against millionaires and billionaires (or millionayahhhs and billionayahhhs) for years now, he has become a millionaire himself from book sales. (Bernie has promised to release 10 years of his tax returns no later than tomorrow.)

If you’re already a Bernie hater, then you ignorantly, smugly, disingenuously scoff at his financial success — a millionaire democratic socialist! — but how you earn your money fucking matters.

Bernie wrote books that people chose to buy, including his best-selling Our Revolution; he didn’t obtain his money by paying a bunch of overworked employees a non-living wage and/or by outrageously overcharging someone for a live-saving pharmaceutical and/or by contributing to the destruction of the planet in order to get his million. He earned it fairly and squarely. Therefore, I have no problem with his financial success — which, compared to the income of the titans of capitalism, is a fucking pittance anyway.

And why would it be a shock that someone with Bernie’s national renown — he did quite well against Billary Clinton in 2016, and because of his 2016 run he starts out in a much stronger position this election cycle — should have some money?

And as fucked up as it is, we do still live in a capitalist system — in which anyone, if he or she writes a best-selling book, for example, can get some moolah.

But I digress.

In his current ranking of 15, Blake drops Joe Biden all the way down to No. 6, noting:

Whatever you think about the complaints women made against Biden alleging inappropriate physical contact, Biden’s handling of it — deciding to turn it into a joke — was a reminder how quickly things can go awry with the freewheeling Biden.

I’ve been arguing for a while that his stock is too high, and this episode has helped affirm it. He’s got a front-runner’s poll numbers but needs to actually show he’s a much better candidate than he was in 1988 and 2008.

I agree wholeheartedly that Biden’s “stock is too high” and that he “needs to actually show he’s a much better candidate than he was in 1988 and 2008,” and not only do I very much not want the uninspiring, centrist, corporate-friendly Biden as the nominee (again, to me he is Billary 2.0), but I don’t think that he’ll emerge as the nominee, not in the current political climate, in which the party’s nominee won’t be decided by the national electorate (which for the sake of argument we’ll say is centrist), but will be decided mostly by party animals, who these days lean to the left.

But as much as I’m not a fan of Biden, I think that putting him at No. 6 is too low; I think that he still probably still belongs in the top three, as we never should underestimate the power of Democrats to pick (or just sit back and allow…) a shitty candidate to become the presidential nominee. I mean, they just did that in 2016 with Billary.

Blake ranks Kamala Harris as No. 2 (still too high, probably, given her single-digit nationwide polling numbers), Elizabeth Warren as No. 3 (probably too high, given that her polling numbers are even lower than Harris’), Cory Booker at No. 4 (way too high, as he can’t even get 5 percent in most polls), Beto O’Rourke at No. 5 (I believe that the ideas-free O’Rourke stands almost no chance, although he polls closely to Harris), and Pete Buttigieg at No. 7, behind Biden.

Buttigieg actually has a better chance than many if not most might believe, I think.

He has polled in the top three in at least two polls of Iowa voters taken over the past month, and polled in the top three in at least one poll of New Hampshire voters taken this month.

We shouldn’t forget the case of John Kerry, whose presidential campaign was on life support until he came back, Lazarus style, when he won the Iowa caucuses (which Howard Dean was “supposed” to win [he came in third]) and then won the New Hampshire primary — and then went on to win five of the seven states in the next contest, dubbed “Mini Tuesday.”

After that, the nomination was all Kerry’s.

Thus far I’ve focused on the nationwide presidential preference polls and have neglected to talk about the slingshot effect that winning Iowa and/or New Hampshire usually has on a presidential race. (The Iowa caucuses are the first contest of the presidential primary season, followed quickly by the New Hampshire primary.) Win one or both of those two states, and you are in good shape.

(The only Democratic presidential nominee who hadn’t won Iowa or New Hampshire in my lifetime was Bill Clinton, who came in at second place in New Hampshire but still eked out a win of the nomination.

In case you were wondering, in 2016 Billary “won” Iowa by 49.8 percent to Bernie’s 49.6 percent — yes, it was that close in the midst of talk about cheating by Team Billary — and Bernie blew Billary out of the water in New Hampshire, 60.1 percent to 37.7 percent.)

I think it’s unlikely that Pete Buttigieg will pull a surprise win like John Kerry did in 2004 — I mean, Kerry had been a U.S. senator at that time, whereas Buttigieg has been only the mayor of a not-huge city — but it’s not impossible.

As the voters on the Repugnican side chose outsider Pussygrabber in 2016, it’s not impossible that the Democratic voters in 2020 will want a fresh, young face, and that would be Buttigieg’s.

Still, though, if I had to put my money on it, I’d say that Bernie Sanders is going to be the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nominee — not just because he’s the candidate I want to become the nominee, but because he came surprisingly close to Billary in 2016 and because the party today is more Bernie’s than it is the Billarybots’, as evidenced by how most of the contenders for the 2020 nomination have adopted Bernie’s key positions.

You don’t mimic a loser. You mimic a winner.

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Bernie wins N.H., of course; Robo-Rubio apparently KO’d from race

Updated below

With 92 percent of the precincts reporting, Bernie Sanders beat Billary Clinton in New Hampshire yesterday by more than 20 percentage points — 60 percent to 38.3 percent, per Politico.

Final polling had Bernie beating Billary by around 13 percent, so I had expected him to win (by at least high single digits), but no, I didn’t expect him to beat Billary by the 20 percent or so that he’d garnered in some of the polls.

We’ll see how the Nevada caucuses pan out on February 20, but until then, Bernie gets to be the victor for the next week and a half. We’ll see if that’s enough time to erode any lead that Billary might have had in Nevada.

I mean, keep in mind that Billary won New Hampshire in 2008, but just barely — she beat Barack Obama by 3 percent in the popular vote, but both of them walked away from the state with the same number of delegates.

So ponder the fact that Billary beat Obama (barely) in New Hampshire in 2008 but lost by double digits there to a self-proclaimed democratic socialist yesterday. Methinks that the times have changed but that Billary still lives in the 1990s, when a center-right Democratic Party, a Repugnican Lite Party, a Democratic Party in name only, still was OK with enough Democratic voters for sellout DINOs like Billary to be able to win a nationwide (or other big) election.

On the Repugnican Tea Party side, with 92 percent of the precincts reporting, it’s Donald Trump at 35.2 percent in yesterday’s primary election in New Hampshire, John Kasich at 15.8 percent, Ted Cruz at 11.7 percent, Jeb! Bush at 11.1 percent and Robo-Rubio at 10.5 percent. Just after Robo-Rubio is the man who brought him down, Chris Christie, at 7.5 percent.

If there were fewer competitors and if Christie hadn’t beaten him down at the last Repugnican Tea Party presidential debate, Robo-Rubio would have done better than fifth place (thus far) in New Hampshire yesterday. (Yes, the vote-counting isn’t over, but with more than 90 percent of it complete, I don’t expect Robo-Rubio to get into the top three.)

So it looks like the Repugnican Tea Party is stuck with Donald Trump and with Ted Cruz, the only two candidates who ranked within the top three in both Iowa and New Hampshire (unless Jeb! Bush actually overtakes Cruz and finishes at third place in New Hamsphire; we’ll see).

Trump loses to both Bernie and Billary in the match-up polling, but Cruz actually barely beats Billary in the match-up polling, whereas Bernie barely beats Cruz. Bernie does better against both Trump and Cruz than does Billary, in fact, so, as Robo-Rubio might say: We can dispel with the fiction that Billary is more electable than is Bernie. We can dispel with the fiction that Billary is more electable than is Bernie. We can dispel with the fiction that Billary is more electable than is Bernie. We can dispel with the fiction that Billary is more electable than is Bernie. We can dispel with the fiction that…

Update: It’s being reported now that Chris Christie is dropping out of the race. 

Well, we can’t say that he accomplished nothing; he apparently knocked Robo-Rubio out of the race, and, again, Robo-Rubio had been polling against Billary and Bernie better than anyone else in his party.

With 95.7 percent of New Hampshire’s precincts reporting, Robo-Rubio remains at fifth place, with only 10.5 percent of the vote.

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Iowa’s Des Moines Register: Dem caucuses were ‘a debacle, period’

Here, in its entirety, is an editorial that The Des Moines Register published last night (links are the Register’s):

Once again the world is laughing at Iowa. Late-night comedians and social-media mavens are having a field day with jokes about missing caucus-goers and coin flips.

That’s fine. We can take ribbing over our quirky process. But what we can’t stomach is even the whiff of impropriety or error.

What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. Democracy, particularly at the local party level, can be slow, messy and obscure. But the refusal to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy.

The Iowa Democratic Party must act quickly to assure the accuracy of the caucus results, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

First of all, the results were too close not to do a complete audit of results. Two-tenths of 1 percent separated Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. A caucus should not be confused with an election, but it’s worth noting that much larger margins trigger automatic recounts in other states.

Second, too many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.

The Sanders campaign is rechecking results on its own, going precinct by precinct, and is already finding inconsistencies, said Rania Batrice, a Sanders spokeswoman. The campaign seeks the math sheets or other paperwork that precinct chairs filled out and were supposed to return to the state party. They want to compare those documents to the results entered into a Microsoft app and sent to the party.

“Let’s compare notes. Let’s see if they match,” Batrice said Wednesday.

Dr. Andy McGuire, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, dug in her heels and said no. She said the three campaigns had representatives in a room in the hours after the caucuses and went over the discrepancies.

McGuire knows what’s at stake. Her actions only confirm the suspicions, wild as they might be, of Sanders supporters. Their candidate, after all, is opposed by the party establishment — and wasn’t even a Democrat a few months ago.

So her path forward is clear: Work with all the campaigns to audit results. Break silly party tradition and release the raw vote totals. Provide a list of each precinct coin flip and its outcome, as well as other information sought by the Register. Be transparent.

And then call for a blue-ribbon commission to study how to improve the caucuses, as the Republican Party of Iowa did after its own fiasco in 2012. Monday’s mess showed that it’s time for the Democrats to change, too.

The caucuses have become something they were never intended to be. It’s as if RAGBRAI tried to morph into the Tour de France. It wasn’t built for the speed or the significance.

The current process grew out of efforts to find a more democratic way to choose delegates to conventions, after the grassroots saw how Democratic power-brokers controlled the nominating process in 1968. But the caucuses have become as antiquated and opaque as the smoke-filled rooms of yore.

Democrats should ask themselves: What do we want the Iowa caucus to be? How can we preserve its uniqueness while bringing more order? Does it become more like a straw poll or primary? How do we strike the balance between tradition and transparency?

We have time to consider these questions. First, however, we need answers to what happened Monday night. The future of the first-in-the-nation caucuses demands it.

As I noted recently, there is no good reason for Iowa not to scrap the caucus model altogether and adopt a primary-election model, which most of the states possess.*

There should be paper ballots that can be recounted if necessary, as it is here in California. No caucusing, just secret ballots cast by individual voters — again, on paper, so that recounts and audits are possible.

We can’t have faith or trust in the results of what’s supposed to be a democratic process if we have no way to check those results, especially when the results are so close that they are within a fraction of 1 percent — and, of course, when a state’s Democratic Party official refuses to release for review the documentation that is supposed to back up the official results of a democratic process, as is the case in Iowa.

You’d think that Team Billary would want to avoid the skepticism and doubt of Billary’s razor-thin “win” in Iowa, would want to remove all doubt and skepticism that Billary “won” fairly and squarely, but I’ve yet to read or hear that Team Billary has asked for the documentation of the Iowa caucuses to be released.

Curious.

*Wikipedia states this of the New Hampshire primaries:

The scheduled date of the New Hampshire primary always officially starts out as the second Tuesday in March, which is the date when town meetings and non-partisan municipal elections are traditionally held.

New Hampshire law stipulates (in section RSA 653:9 of the statute book) that the secretary of state can change the date to ensure that the New Hampshire primary will take place at least seven days before any “similar election” in any other state.

The Iowa caucuses are not considered to be a similar election. In recent election cycles, the New Hampshire primary has taken place the week after the Iowa caucus.

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status was threatened in 2007, when both the Republican and Democratic National Committees moved to give more populous states a bigger influence in the presidential race.

Several states also sought to move up the dates of their 2008 primaries in order to have more influence and dilute the power of the New Hampshire primary. Originally held in March, the date of the New Hampshire primary has been moved up repeatedly to maintain its status as first. The 2008 primary was held on January 8.

Perhaps Iowans don’t want to compete with New Hampshire’s demand to always hold the first primary anywhere in the nation, so they don’t want to let go of the caucus model, but, it seems to me, a hybrid is possible: caucus as usual, but then cast votes on paper ballots as in a primary election, so that there is a clear paper trail of ballots.

P.S. Slate.com’s Josh Vorhees weighs in on the Register’s editorial and the problems with the Democratic Iowa caucuses, and concludes: “So, it’s fair to wonder: Would the Iowa Democratic Party be as confident in its final results if they would have shown Sanders with the narrow lead as opposed to the other way around?”

Yup.

Methinks that the Iowa Democratic Party wanted to deliver a “win” to Billary, whether she actually won or not.

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Live-blogging: Is Bernie Sanders about to win first-to-weigh-in Iowa?

Updated below (on Tuesday, February 2, 2016)

The Democratic winner of the Iowa caucuses appears to be … a tie (as I type this sentence at 9:30 p.m. Pacific Time).

8:43 p.m.: It’s 8:43 p.m. Pacific Time as I type this sentence, and as I type this sentence, Politico has Billary Clinton at 49.8 percent and Bernie Sanders at 49.6 percent in the Iowa caucuses, a whopping difference of 0.2 percent… This is with 93.8 percent of the reporting in.

Apparently Billary is walking away with more delegates than Bernie, but if Bernie wins the percentage war, he’ll be declared and known as the winner of Iowa, I do believe…

8:47 p.m.: Politico now has Billary at 49.9 percent and Bernie at 49.6 percent, with 93.9 percent reporting.

Martin O’Malley already has dropped out of the race; he stands at 0.5 percent in Iowa right now.

8:51 p.m.: We’re back to 49.8 percent Billary to 49.6 percent Bernie…

8:53 p.m.: Back to 49.9 percent Billary to 49.6 percent Bernie, with 94.1 percent reporting. I truly have no idea which one is going to win, but whoever wins, apparently it’s going to turn out to be almost exactly 50-50, so the bragging rights will be quite minimal, it seems to me (except that, again, Billary very apparently will get more delegates from Iowa than will Bernie).

9:00 p.m.: Ugh. This is painful. Still at 49.9 percent to 49.6 percent, with 94.3 percent reporting.

On the Repugnican Tea Party side, Ted Cruz has been declared the winner of Iowa (with about 28 percent), with Donald Trump and Marco Rubio in at second and third place (with about 24 percent and 23 percent, respectively). Cruz is a scary individual, but I recall that in 2012 Iowans picked as their No. 1 Prick Santorum, so I’m not overly spooked over Cruz yet.

That said, as I’ve noted before, Marco Rubio is the one the Dems should fear. I can’t see either Trump or Cruz winning the White House, but I can see Rubio winning it. He’s evil and insane like Cruz and Trump, but he conceals it much better than they do.

9:09 p.m.: With 95.1 percent reporting, we remain at Billary at 49.9 percent to Bernie at 49.6 percent… Again, round those up and that’s 50-50, so I see no real bragging rights for either candidate, except that, again, apparently Billary is getting at least 28 delegates from Iowa and Bernie is getting 21 of them. (I have to plead ignorance as to how the number of awarded delegates is determined. It very apparently isn’t strictly tied to the percentages, or it wouldn’t be a difference of seven delegates [thus far].)

9:19 p.m.: This is surreal. With 95.4 percent reporting, we’re back to Billary at 49.8 percent and Bernie at 49.6 percent… The way this has been trending, I expect Billary to beat Bernie by no more than 0.3 percent, if she beats him, and he still might win, it seems to me, or they’d have called it already, and they haven’t. Of course, if Bernie does win, I doubt that it will be by more than around 0.3 percent. Again: surreal.

9:30 p.m.: I just found a graphic to go with this and popped it up at top. With 95.8 percent reporting, we’re back at Billary at 49.9 percent and Bernie at 49.6 percent…

9:40 p.m.: We remain stuck at Billary 49.9 percent to Bernie 49.6 percent, with 96.5 percent reporting. I don’t expect the final difference between the two to exceed 0.5 percent.

Yet again: No bragging rights here, except that, of course, it says something about Bernie that he at least tied Queen Billary, whom conventional “wisdom” coronated a long time ago.

I mean, this is her second time around in Iowa, and the best that she could do, apparently, is a tie

And her opponent calls himself a (democratic) socialist; he hasn’t waited for the traitors on the right to slap that label on him as a pejorative. And he hasn’t been running for president (at least) since 2000, like Billary has.

9:55 p.m.: With 97.1 percent of the vote in, we’re still at 49.9 percent Billary to 49.6 percent Bernie. I don’t see Billary hitting even 50.0 percent, although she might, and it seems to me that psychologically, there is something about hitting 50.0 percent that helps a candidate, whereas 49.9 percent is seen as a bigger loss than it actually is. (This is why shit costs, say, $4.90 or $4.99 instead of $5.00…)

In any event, I’m off to bed now. Again, the final results are going to be so close that if Bernie or Billary is declared the “winner” of Iowa, it won’t mean much, as it will have been by a fraction of 1 percent, probably by no more than 0.3 percent.

I’ll update this tomorrow if necessary.

Update (Tuesday, February 2, 2016): This is sooooo typical of Billary. CNN reports:

Hillary Clinton declared victory early Tuesday morning in a razor-thin contest against Bernie Sanders in Iowa. But Democratic party officials have not yet declared a winner.

“Hillary Clinton has won the Iowa Caucus,” the Clinton campaign said. “After thorough reporting — and analysis — of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates.”

The state party indicated in a separate statement that it was not ready to make a call.

“The results tonight are the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history,” Iowa party chairman Andy McGuire said. “We will report that final precinct when we have confirmed those results with the chair.”

One thing is clear after Monday night’s Iowa caucuses: there’s a long, volatile election season ahead before two deeply fractured parties can unite behind a nominee. …

Again, according to my very limited knowledge as to how Iowa awards delegates, Billary won more delegates in Iowa, but with 99.9 percent reporting, per Politico, she is at 49.9 percent to Bernie’s 49.6 percent.

So for Team Billary to claim that she’s clearly the people’s choice, at least in Iowa, is quite bullshit, given the imperfections of the Iowa caucus system (gotta love that line “there is no uncertainty”; if you have to claim that, it means that there is some uncertainty), and to brag about a lead of 0.3 percent demonstrates how desperate you are. I mean, Billary came in at third place in Iowa in 2008, so of course she’d love to claim a No. 1 win today, even if we’re talking a whopping difference of 0.3 percent.

Bernie will go on to win New Hampshire on February 9. (His lead there approaches 20 percent; see here and here.) Only if Billary clearly had won Iowa would she have been able to improve her outcome in New Hampshire.

We’ll see how Nevadans vote on February 20 (Nevada is the third state to weigh in). If Bernie wins Nevada, then yes, we will be in for a bit of a wrangle, methinks.

In the meantime, the degree to which Billary and the Billarybots spin her embarrassing tie in Iowa as a win demonstrates their desperation (as well as their character). Billary, with all of her corporate cash and her establishmentarian support, should have done much better in Iowa than she did against a rumpled, 74-year-old (democratic) socialist who only relatively recently obtained a comb. That it was a tie reveals, as 2008 did, what a weak candidate Billary Clinton is, that those of us who are left of center just aren’t at all that into her.

P.S. Speaking of the psychological significance of hitting at least 50.0 percent, if you add Bernie’s 49.6 percent and Martin O’Malley’s 0.6 percent, you get 50.2 percent of the vote in Iowa last night that was not for Billary. Just sayin’.

P.P.S. To (try to) clarify, the percentages to which I have referred above (i.e., 49.9 percent for Billary, 49.6 percent for Bernie and 0.6 percent for O’Malley) are percentages of “state delegate equivalents” earned in Iowa, not percentages of individuals’ votes.

Again, I don’t claim to be an expert in the fairly complicated ins and outs of the Iowa caucuses’ process.

Slate.com’s Josh Vorhees does a pretty good job of briefly explaining the process here.

Vorhees concludes that “There is a strong case to be made that more Iowans showed up to caucus for Sanders [last] night than did for Clinton,” but notes that “the Sanders campaign says that it doesn’t foresee contesting the final results.”

P.P.P.S.: The Associated Press explains further that in Iowa Billary Clinton garnered 23 delegates and Bernie Sanders garnered 21.

The AP notes that 2,382 delegates must be won in order to secure the party’s presidential nomination, and that thus far Billary has 385 so-called “superdelegates” on her side to Bernie’s 29. (“Superdelegates” may switch from Billary to Bernie, and many of them probably will if he racks up a lot of wins in the coming states’ primaries and caucuses.)

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Martin O’Malley’s supporters might help Bernie in tight race in Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley leads attendees in a song after holding a town hall at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Associated Press photo

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley sings during an appearance in Grinnell, Iowa, last week. O’Malley is polling around 4 percent in Iowa, and his supporters switching their allegiance to Bernie Sanders or to Billary Clinton during tomorrow night’s caucuses could make a difference in the tight race there between Bernie and Billary. 

I was thinking about this last week, when I read that under the Iowa caucus rules, if a Democratic presidential candidate does not have the support of at least 15 percent of the attendees of the caucusing site, then his or her supporters are to then pick another, stronger candidate.

Wouldn’t this help Bernie Sanders? Wouldn’t most of Martin O’Malley’s supporters switch their allegiance to Bernie? I thought, but until today I hadn’t seen this discussed in any news article; until today, I’d seen only the Iowa polls discussed.

This is from Yahoo! News today:

Des Moines, Iowa — [Tomorrow] night, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s tiny band of supporters will be the center of attention in Iowa precincts across the state.

O’Malley had only 3 percent support in the final Des Moines Register-Bloomberg Politics poll, but because of the Byzantine rules of the Democratic caucusing process, his supporters could end up deciding the incredibly close race between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

In each of the state’s 1,681 caucusing locations, a candidate must get 15 percent of voters to be considered viable during an initial count that’s taken at the beginning of the evening. O’Malley isn’t expected to reach that threshold in the vast majority of precincts, which means his supporters will be up for grabs — they must either choose another candidate, or their vote will not count.

Wooing voters who back candidates that fail to meet the threshold has made a big difference in elections in the state in the past: John Edwards finished a surprise second in 2004 thanks in part to Dennis Kucinich’s supporters defecting to him. And Bill Richardson’s backers joined Barack Obama’s camp in 2008.

The Clinton campaign is arming its precinct captains with special software to help them figure out how to keep O’Malley supporters from defecting to Sanders’ camp, BuzzFeed News reported [yesterday]. Meanwhile, Sanders’ precinct captains are being told to beef up on their O’Malley knowledge so they can entice his fans over to their side and to offer them delegates for the county convention as inducement.

… Mitch Henry, a Democratic activist who was leading a small training for Sanders precinct captains Saturday afternoon in a coffee shop in Des Moines … [said] that he believes most [of] O’Malley supporters’ second choice is Sanders.

“Talking to a lot of O’Malley supporters, there are a lot of ways Bernie lines up on the issues. A lot of them will say the environment [is their top concern], and Bernie is clearly superior to Hillary on the environment,” said Bri Steirer, a precinct captain for the Drake University area.

But the Sanders plan to convince O’Malley fans with delegates and issues may not be able to compete with Clinton’s scheme.

The Clinton campaign has trained its precinct captains to use software that calculates when it benefits Clinton to give O’Malley supporters a few of their votes in order to block them from defecting to Sanders. That means Clinton supporters would help O’Malley become a viable candidate in precincts where she would still carry the day.

A Sanders precinct captain, Darlene Lawler, asked Henry about whether Bernie supporters should be trying to do the same thing — helping O’Malley become viable in cases where it would help Bernie.

“I would not give them three or four people to be viable because you just don’t know what could happen,” Henry said, adding that the “math” can get complicated as the night goes on, and it’s easy to make a mistake.

Clinton’s campaign has an app that will help caucus leaders calculate the risks, however, which means they don’t have to worry about mistakes.

So Team Billary has to resort to dirty tricks? To lie in order to help Billary? (Yes, having Billary supporters pretend to be O’Malley supporters in order to boost Billary and block Bernie is lying.) What a shock!

At any rate, the rules of Iowa caucuses indeed apparently are complicated (and apparently can be subverted too easily by those of low character), and having never participated in a caucus I’m largely ignorant of the process, but, barring dirty tricks by Team Billary, which very apparently at least widely will be attempted, I hope that in the end we can rely on the basic math of the Iowa polling.

Right now, Real Clear Politics’ average of Iowa polling has Billary Clinton at 47.3 percent, Bernie at 44 percent and O’Malley at 4.4 percent. (The Huffington Post’s average of Iowa polling is quite close: 47.4 percent for Billary, 44.1 percent for Bernie and 4 percent for O’Malley.)

Not only is Bernie within most or all polls’ margin of error, being only 3.3 percent behind Billary, but if Bernie can win over most of O’Malley’s supporters, that could help him beat Billary. In fact, it seems to me that it just might come down to O’Malley’s supporters winning Iowa for Bernie by the majority of them switching their allegiance to him.

I’ve seen no poll of O’Malley supporters as to whether Bernie or Billary would be their second choice, but given the fact that O’Malley’s most useful function in the four Democratic Party presidential debates thus far has been to point out how craven Billary Clinton is, I can’t imagine that it would be natural for the majority of his supporters to now support her.

I mean, Billary has been around for decades; if you haven’t supported her by now, are you going to magically support her tomorrow night in Iowa? Not without a lot of arm-twisting by Team Billary, right?

On that note, I expect Team Billary to engage in plenty of arm-twisting and other dirty tactics tomorrow night, but playing dirty often backfires and has an effect that is opposite of the effect desired. (Look at Billary’s 2008 bid for the White House, for example; that’s a textbook example of that phenomenon.)

In any event, Bernie Sanders’ having polled as well as he has been polling in Iowa for a candidate who couldn’t possibly stop the coronation of Queen Billary is quite impressive. Bernie and Billary are neck and neck in Iowa when she has been on the national stage for decades and is in her second run for the White House but he has been obscure for most of his years in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This demonstrates, I believe, what a weak primary contender Billary is. Again, I know of no one, not one person, who actually is excited by or enthusiastic about Billary.

We’ll see how far this lack of excitement and enthusiasm for her can carry her.

If Bernie wins Iowa tomorrow night, then he no doubt will then win New Hampshire on February 9.

Billary will then play the victim and cry in public again, perhaps even two or three times, and/or she’ll lash out and dash to the right, as she did in 2008, only sealing her fate.

Unfortunately, I pretty much agree with Nate Silver’s assessment of how important winning Iowa is for Bernie. Silver writes that if Bernie loses Iowa (links are Silver’s):

It’s probably over [for him]. Not that I’d expect Sanders to drop out of the race. Nor would I expect the media to stop covering it. Depending on Clinton’s margin of victory, you’d probably see some headlines about her resilience, but others saying the results had “raised doubts” about her campaign.

None of that would necessarily matter. Iowa should be one of the half-dozen or so most favorable states in the country for Sanders; New Hampshire is one of the few that ranks even higher for him.

If Sanders can’t win Iowa, he probably won’t be winning other relatively favorable states like Wisconsin, much less more challenging ones like Ohio and Florida. His ceiling wouldn’t be high enough to win the nomination unless something major changes [such as a federal indictment of Clinton].

On that note, there are many unknowns in terms of how Iowa will turn out, such as how O’Malley’s supporters will break and whether or not there will be any effect from the news that broke on Friday that at least 22 top-secret e-mails were found on Billary’s home-brewed (as in in-her-house) e-mail server.

Will this Friday news be mostly lost in the shuffle? Or will it spook enough Iowa caucus-goers, making them believe or suspect that Billary is too risky to put forth as the party’s presidential candidate? As Silver raises the specter, as I have, what if Billary wins the presidential nomination but then is indicted? What then?

And the Friday news has come too late for its effect, if any, to be reflected in the Iowa polling, it seems to me. Indeed, the final Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll, widely called the most respected Iowa poll, came out last night, too soon to be able to measure the full effect (if any) of Friday’s news on tomorrow’s caucuses, it very much seems to me.

So we’ll see…

In any event, I count Bernie Sanders’ candidacy a win, whether or not he wins the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

His level of support — 37.2 percent nationwide per Real Clear Politics and 35.8 percent nationwide per Huffington Post — coupled with O’Malley’s admittedly small support (around 2 percent nationally) demonstrates that more than a third and almost 40 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners nationwide aren’t on board with Billary.

If she actually makes it to the White House, Billary wouldn’t have nearly the political support behind her that Barack Obama did when he first sat in the Oval Office in January 2009.

Bernie, on the other hand, win or lose, had the courage and the industriousness with which to take on Billary Clinton, something that no one else of his caliber dared to do. (My best guess is that Elizabeth Warren didn’t run primarily because she didn’t want to step on Queen Billary’s regal cape, didn’t want to be seen as a spoiler within the party. [She might also have calculated, of course, that she couldn’t win the nomination.])

If Bernie Sanders doesn’t make it to the White House — if he fails at the level of the Democratic Party presidential primary race or if he wins that race but doesn’t become president in November — he will, I surmise, be the left’s Barry Goldwater; recall that Goldwater lost the 1964 presidential election badly, but that his right-wing politics ushered in Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and both George Bushes.

Bernie Sanders himself might not get us to the promised land, but at the very least he has set us upon its path.*

*I would be thrilled if Elizabeth Warren were our first female president, whether she were preceded by a President Sanders or not. (If Bernie wins the 2016 nomination, I hope that he and Warren strongly consider her as the vice-presidential candidate.)

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Bernie and Billary agree to four more debates, including one before N.H.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and rival candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speak simultaneously at the NBC News - YouTube Democratic presidential candidates debate in Charleston

Reuters photo

Billary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are pictured at the Democratic Party presidential debate earlier this month in South Carolina. The two front-runners have agreed to four additional debates, one wedged between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and three more after the New Hampshire primary.

Politico reports today that Bernie Sanders and Billary Clinton have agreed to four more debates, which would bring the total number of 2016 Democratic Party presidential debates to 10.

The Democratic National Committee (that is, Debbie Wasserman Schultz) would have to approve the additional debates, however.

The first proposed new debate would be sandwiched between the Iowa caucuses on Monday and the New Hampshire primary on February 9. This additional debate would help Billary, especially if Bernie wins Iowa — something that Nate Silver says is more unlikely than likely to happen yet still is quite possible, given that the two have been neck and neck in Iowa recently but that Billary is up around four points right now and has the support of the establishment, yet if Bernie can get his more-enthusiastic-but-younger supporters to turn out, that could win it for him.

(Right now Real Clear Politics’ average of Iowa polls has Billary at 3.4 percent ahead of Bernie, while the Huffington Post’s average of Iowa polls has Billary up over Bernie at 4 percent right now.)

Indeed, an additional debate sandwiched between Iowa and New Hampshire would do more good for Billary than it would for Bernie, given that Bernie has been leading Billary in New Hampshire by double digits for some time now. (Right now RCP’s average of New Hampshire polls has Bernie at 14.3 percent ahead of Billary, and HuffPo’s average of New Hampshire polls has Bernie beating Billary there by 13 percent.)

Especially if Bernie wins Iowa, another debate before New Hampshire could, I surmise, harm his chances there. Recall that in 2008, Billary came in at third place in Iowa and then turned on the waterworks and won New Hampshire (because The New Feminism is all about attacking others for their sexist or even supposedly sexist stereotypes — but employing blatantly sexist stereotypes oneself when it benefits oneself).

On the balance, though, the addition of three more debates after New Hampshire should help Bernie, because the Democratic National Committee/Debbie Wasserman Schultz thus far has scheduled only two debates after New Hampshire: on February 11 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and on March 9 in Miami, Florida.

In addition to the debate wedged between Iowa and New Hampshire, the Bernie and Billary camps have agreed to additional debates in March, April and May, Politico reports.

If the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary season is stretched out, like 2008’s was (recall that Billary didn’t finally concede to Barack Obama until June 2008), the three extra debates after New Hampshire, bringing the total post-New-Hampshire debate total to five, would benefit Bernie.

Indeed, scheduling only two debates after New Hampshire apparently was Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s tactic to expose her precious Billary to as few debates as possible after the earliest-voting states.

So while I’m hoping for the four extra debates — even though live-blogging the debates, as I have been doing, can be a bit of a pain in the ass — I’m not holding my breath that the Democratic National Committee/Debbie Wasserman Schultz will say yes to them.

The process has not been very democratic thus far.

P.S. In other news today, the New York Times quite stupidly has endorsed Billary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. (This endorsement comes on the heels of the resurfacing of E-mailgate — news yesterday that Billary’s home-brewed e-mail server contained at least 22 top-secret e-mails. Yeah, it’s really smart to endorse a candidate who might be indicted any day now…)

Can you say “establishment”? The establishmentarian New York Times had endorsed Billary in 2008, too, and we know how well that turned out.

What so many people forget (or ignore) is that the corporately owned and controlled mass media want a corporation-friendly president. Therefore, their endorsements reflect what’s best for them, not what’s best for the majority of the American people.

The Times once again has perceived the most corporation-friendly candidate to be Billary Clinton. Let’s hope that the Times is as right this year as it was in 2008.

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