Berlin!

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There is no city more dear to my heart than Berlin.   I am sitting on an ICE train heading to Cologne, after a superb five days in Berlin with 13 wonderful students.   Later we move on to Munich, but being here has reaffirmed how special Berlin is for me.

Berlin’s personality is unique.   Open, tolerant, diverse, left-libertarian, friendly, exciting, dynamic, and accepting.  Even the Nazis couldn’t control Berlin, at least until the war started and discipline became strictly enforced.  From the wild cabaret scenes of the 20’s to the love parades of recent years, Berlin rejects conformity, flaunts tradition, and runs to its own beat.

Berlin’s history is profound.  I’ve long been fascinated by the stories of Berlin between the wars (check out the book “Before the Deluge” by Otto Friedrichs), but my life has been personally touched by Berlin more than any other city.

German politics is my research specialty and I was lucky to be in grad school just ready to start working on my dissertation when the wall came down.    I had been in Berlin in the summer of 1989, during the last days of “old” normality before everything changed. I didn’t know it at the time; I almost didn’t pay the extra money to trek through East Germany and visit Berlin, figuring I could see the wall “next time.”  That was in August.

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That November, the wall would come down.  By late August the stream of refugees coming into Germany via Hungry would begin the crisis that would ultimately cause the collapse of the East bloc and end the cold war.  In those early August days in Berlin, none of that was expected.

I walked the streets of East Berlin and felt the absurdity of a great city so divided.  I stood along time at the edge of Unter den Linden street, looking out at the Brandenburg gate, and a platform on the other side where people could lock in from the West to the East.  That night, back in my hotel in the West, I reflected on how tragic the fate of Berlin was.

In November I literally had tears streaming down my face as I watched the scenes on November 9th when the unthinkable happened – the wall opened and people were dancing on it, starting the process of destroying it.  Visiting the musems and memorials to the wall – the East Side Gallery and the memorial near Nordbahnhof, I’m still moved.  The wall stood only 28 years; it’s been down almost as long as it had stood.    It is just an odd part of history – but once it symbolized the Cold War and the inhumanity of the Soviet style system.

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Students struggle to understand what it was like when this vibrant city was divided – this is a memorial to the wall, a portion still standing on its original location

I lived in Berlin working on my dissertation for three months in 1991, going to East Berlin and observing the old Communist party having a demonstration a year after Germany unified – Gregor Gysi and other prominent members of the new PDS spoke.

It was a strange time.  Unification had happened, but the differences were still stark.  I would explore portions of East Berlin, observing the life there, and I got to know West Berlin better, enjoying its unique personality.   I interviewed people all over East Germany as they dealt with trying to cope with and shape the changes coming at them faster than they could handle.  Now that a generation has passed, that once obvious Wessi/Ossi divide has faded.  Berlin feels like one, unified city.

Since then I’ve been back many times: 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2010, 2012, 2014, and now 2016.   The changes in the city during that time have been remarkable.  The physical and cultural markings of the division have faded.  Now they exist primarily as history.  The students try to grapple with the scenes I paint of the past – rows of modern buildings on space empty and forbidding just 30 years ago.

It shocks me sometimes to see the row of bricks showing the old location stopping because have been built where the wall once stood.  I recall looking over Potsdamer Platz which was filled with cranes as they started a massive project to build where the wall had been, and rebuild areas near the wall – areas considered undesirable due to the wall’s proximity, but now were prime real estate in the newly unified city.

I talk about how I had to go to the Lehrter Bahnhof to get a package – a sleepy S-Bahn station, run down, near the wall.  It’s gone, replaced by the multi-level modern glass train station/mall, the new “Hauptbahnhof” (main train station).   I describe how I could observe the wrapped Reichstag from the S-Bahn in 1995, as Christo’s wrapping glistened different hues and tones of light.  Now rows of new buildings block the view from the S-Bahn; the landscape has been completely changed.

wrappedreichstag

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin 1971-95 Photo: Wolfgang Volz. ©1995 Christo + Wolfgang Volz

Beyond the history, Berlin is also a city of neighborhoods, each with its own taste and rhythm.   I went with students for a walk near our hotel, we found a Vietnamese restaurant overlooking a canal, the streets were alive, the air fresh.  So Berlin!

For the students, Berlin is huge, difficult to navigate, a “big city.”  And indeed, it takes time to get to know it – and as a guest, I only understand a minuscule portion of what Berlin is in its entirety.   I’ve been here enough to feel comfortable in the city, to appreciate it’s personality, and feel a strong attachment.  Oh, if only like Marlene Dietrich I could keep a “Koffer in Berlin” (a suitcase in Berlin).   But now it’s on to Cologne!

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Beyond Ideology

berniebird

A Republican friend of mine was aghast at the support being given to Bernie Sanders, especially the massive lead he has among Millennials.  “Don’t they realize he’s a socialist?

I grew up in the heyday of ideology.  Thankfully, ideology is fading as a driver of politics.  That seems almost incomprehensible to people of my generation.   We’re used to ideological battles – us vs. them, liberal vs. conservatives, left vs. right.   But that way of thinking is fading.

What does that mean?   Can one be “without ideology?”    To the extent everyone has a world view, or some core beliefs about how reality functions, we can be said to have a perspective.   So we aren’t completely without ideology, but I’d say we’re moving beyond ideology.

Ideologies of the past were simplistic models of how reality worked, often used to rationalize negative conditions.  The Communists rationalized control over an entire population by pointing to their ideology.  Capitalists rationalized society divided into classes by pointing to their ideology – and pointing out that they allow a lot more freedom than those of the other ideology.  Most tellingly, left and right often saw the ideological dichotomy as requiring a choice of one or the other.  There were no alternatives.

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They aren’t looking for politics as a secular religion, but practical problem solving

Imagine a 50-something man approaching a young Sanders supporter.  “Why do you support a socialist?”

In response, she’s unlikely to talk about ideology.   She is more likely to say, “the way income is distributed in the country is inherently unfair and harms large sections of the country.  It’s a kind of corruption, an insider game to control wealth.  We have to break that up.”

“So,” you might respond, “have big government take over redistribute wealth, control the economy and deny freedom?

Our young friend rolls her eyes.  “No, just make sure the super rich can’t control the economy.”

“So big government can control it?”

She sighs.  “No.  No one needs to control it.  Just make it for fair – let markets operate, but with a sense of justice.”

Our 20th Century minded agitator is frustrated.  “Come on, if you don’t embrace capitalism with all its defects, the only alternative is socialism.  Sanders calls himself a socialist.”

She smiles slightly at that.  “Not really – he called himself that when everyone was into labels, but he talks more about making sure we have a just, even moral economic system.  One that works.”

At that the old style thinker shakes his head and walks away.  “Young people.  They don’t get the dangers of socialism,” he mutters.  Our Sanders supporter chuckles, “wow, those old folk sure are into the isms!”

Beyond ideology has another term, this one with an ism: pragmatism.   Not strict philosophical pragmatism, but a sense that the world is too complex to grab onto one ideological world view and hold to it like a secular religion.   Countries with taxes that are too high don’t work.  Countries with wealth concentrated too much at the top don’t work.   People deserve basic economic and political rights.  There are ways to achieve this by problem solving, thinking practically and ditching ideological straight jackets.

Trump and Sanders both have appeal by reaching beyond ideology.  Neither really espouses a clearly articulated world view; both talk about problems that need to be addressed.  Trump appeals more to peoples’ fears, especially those who think the country is in decline and threatened by domestic and foreign agents wanting to subvert the American way of life.

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Sanders appeals to peoples’ hopes that things can change for the better, that we can solve problems and create a more just society.  In general, Trump voters are older, Sanders supporters are younger.   They are in many ways diametrically opposed to each other, yet neither can be pigeonholed into the old ideological standards.

The age of ideology has passed.   The dream of finding one objectively true world view upon which to guide our political development has been abandoned.  There is no one best system, no assured future.   There are just a lot of problems, perspectives, and ideas that we can choose from to move forward.

Rather than embrace anger or fear, I prefer the shared norms of freedom, justice, and community.  Those are the same values that inspired the enlightenment view of the world before it was subverted by ideology.  They still are our best bet for the future.

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Why Sanders Should Continue

sandersrally

Bernie Sanders will almost certainly not be the Democratic nominee for President.  Let me get that out of the way before explaining why he should continue his campaign.  The numbers don’t lie.  Hillary Clinton has so far won 1716 delegates to Bernie Sanders’ 1430.  That’s leaving “super delgates” out of the equation.  2382 delegates are needed to win.

The total degates still to be won in primaries or causes are 1065.  To reach the magic number without super delegates, Clinton needs 62.5% of delegates to be awarded.  Sanders would need 90%.   It’s unlikely either will get to the magic number with only won delegates, though it’s possible for Clinton since she has significant leads in the two most delegate rich states, California and New Jersey.  Those two likely Clinton states have 65% of the delegates yet to be awarded.  Still, given the probability that Sanders will rack up wins in the smaller states, Clinton is unlikely to win it out right by the end of the primary season.

She will be very close though.  Here is the remaining schedule:

Tuesday May 17, Kentucky 61, Oregon 73 delegates

Saturday June 5 – Sunday June 5, Virgin Islands 12, Puerto Rico 67 delegates

Tuesday June 7: California 546, Montana 27, New Jersey 142, New Mexico 43, North Dakota caucus 23, South Dakota 25 delegates

Tuesday June 14: District of Columbia caucus 46 delegates 

happyhillary

To get the lead over Hillary, Sanders would have to win 63.4% of the remaining delegates, something that is virtually impossible.  For Hillary to have the lead, she only has to win 36.5%.  There would need to be a major external event – an indictment over her e-mails (extremely unlikely) or some major scandal – for her not to reach that extremely low bar.

Most likely, given the proportional allocation of delegates and Clinton’s strengths in the most delegate rich states, she’ll end up a few hundred short, with Sanders lagging behind. In such a case Sanders’ only hope is that the super delegates ditch Hillary and vote for him, even though she will have won far more votes.   Sanders supporters, upset about Hillary’s lead among super delegates, have criticized the system as being un-democratic.  The irony is, Sanders only hope is for the super delegates to ditch democracy and the voters.  Again, absent some major outside upheaval, the odds of that are virtually nil.

So why should Sanders carry on?   First, politics brings out wishful thinking.  The “never Trump” folk were convinced until Indiana that Cruz was going to come back and “save the party.”  That was never remotely likely.  Sanders supporters indulge fantasies in which somehow he wins California decisively or runs the table in terms of victories, thereby giving super delegates cause to choose the number two vote getter.  Some hope for that external event.  So as long as wishful thinking remains viable, Sanders should be expected to continue.  But there are better reasons to do so than wishful thinking.

sandershillary

Ultimately the Democrats need the two to work together as a team (not with Sanders as VP though) to win in November.

The reasons for Sanders to stay are: 1) to help Hillary win the election in November; and 2) expand and give momentum to his populist, inspirational message.

Hillary is not a sure thing against Trump.  If Sanders supporters don’t back Hillary with enthusiasm, Trump has paths to victory; don’t buy the message of some pundits that Hillary has it all but won.  Trump has proven the pundits are often wrong; they didn’t think he had a chance at the GOP nomination.   Sanders has to give his supporters cause to vote for Hillary by having a positive role at the convention, and then going on the campaign trail as a party united.  He can only do that if he keeps fighting; otherwise, his influence is less, and Hillary is hurt.

Moreover, Sanders is changing the Democratic party, just as Trump is changing the GOP.  His message about middle class decline and America becoming an oligarchy resonates with large sectors of the population, especially Millennials and working class whites – the latter a group that could go for Trump.  If he can pressure the Democrats to maintain this message, perhaps even with Hillary choosing a progressive Vice Presidential candidate, his campaign will be more than a failed effort to get the nomination.  It will be a force that moves both the Democratic party and perhaps the country towards the progressive left by popularizing a message that has until now only resonated with activists and elites.

Again, if he leaves pre-maturely, his influence declines.   Does he wait until the convention, or drop out of the DC primary on June 14th?   If the Democrats are smart, they will find a way to have Hillary and Bernie coordinate and choreograph the transition from being primary opponents to uniting to defeat Trump.

Yes, Sanders’ continued success shows that Hillary has real weaknesses as a candidate.  But Hillary’s overall greater success shows the same about Bernie.  That is why if the Democrats are going to defeat Trump in November, the two have to work together.  For now, that means Sanders needs to keep his campaign going strong.

 

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Getting Older!

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I remember very well thinking that people in their fifties were “old.”  When I was in my thirties I rather dreaded reaching that point.  My life had a future ahead of it, and so much of my psychic energy was spent dreaming about, planning for or being anxious about the future.  What would life be like if I didn’t have that future to focus upon?

Oh how silly I was.  I should have spent that time really embracing the present, experiencing “now” as it happened – because that’s all we have.   Now that I’m in my fifties I actually find myself very comfortable getting old – it really isn’t a bad thing!

First, perspective.   I’m excited about life – what I’m doing, the choices I’m making and where I’m going.  That involves thinking of the future to some extent – planning research, trips, etc.  But for the most part I’ve learned that when one is focused on NOW age is not a problem.  Now is full of opportunity and excitement.  There are always new things to learn, changes one can make to explore life in different ways.

Second, experience. I remember the Cold War!  I remember Watergate and the final years of Vietnam!   I was in Berlin in the summer of ’89, experiencing the last weeks of normalcy before the world changed and the wall came down.  I toured the eastern German states in the nineties, talking to people who were going through an historic transition.  I talked with elderly German women in the 80s about the Third Reich and their experiences.

I cheered the Twins World Series victory in 1987!  I learned e-mail when it was year, and got on the internet back before it had images because they took too long to download (especially on dialup).  In fact, I’ve experienced the information revolution from my excitement at getting color TV when I was 8, cable TV at 14, and then being amazed by my college roommate’s personal computer – a Radio Shack Tandy, one of the first made!

I would not want to not have those experiences.  I would not trade them for youth.   Moreover, my life has put me in a position where I have unique opportunities and a job I love.  I get to now enjoy that, explore my options, and live I life I can honestly say I love.  Sure, I’m divorced, things have gone wrong – but I learned from them and I’m still on really good terms with the people who have been important in my life.  And if I ever have another serious relationship, I’ll bring those lessons into making it the best it can be.

Not that aging is all good.  I’ve come to grips with the fact that my body gets sore more easily and I have aches and pains that probably will never go away.   The face looking back at me in the mirror isn’t the youthful face I feel like I have when there are no mirrors around.   I hurt my knee last year, which kept me sedentary, and now I’m finding it frustrating that I can’t go run and jump like I used to.  But I have the now!  So I’m going to the gym every day (it’s just two blocks away) and I have the opportunity to get in good shape for my age.  I embrace that!

To be sure, teaching at a university means that I’m surrounded by youth.  I get a sense of cultural trends, have to keep up with technological change, and that definitely keeps my mind fresh and open to new things.   And it has been exciting!   I get how people my age feel like the country has become something different than it was – a strange place with everything from gay marriage to transgender bathroom rights!  But being with youth I’ve experienced and embraced these changes as part of our continued cultural development – I’m not stuck in the 80s!

I also have two children still in school – that helps keep my perspective fresh, seeing the reality they’re dealing with.

So overall – aging isn’t bad!  The formula is simple: stay in shape, keep up with society, and embrace the now.  The experiences and memories from the past are priceless, and have created who I am and the conditions in which I find myself.  The future still holds promise, and in any event we’re all occupying the present.  Now lasts forever!

 

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If Trump Loses Wisconsin

<> on April 2, 2016 in Rothschild, Wisconsin.

Donald Trump remains, despite two very rough weeks, atop the GOP race for the nomination with 736 delegates.  1237 are needed to win.  Ted Cruz has 463 and John Kasich 143 delegates.  Only Trump can realistically win the nomination before the convention in Cleveland.

Right now he is on the ropes.  The Republicans have gone after him with unprecedented fury; never has a leading candidate received so much vitriol, insults and anger.  The conservatives over at Red State have made attacking Trump their primary focus.  It seems the entire party is out to stop Trump.  Will they?

Despite my last post predicting a Kasich-Rubio ticket, let’s go through the numbers and see what Trump’s chances are.  Here are the remaining contests:

April 5:  Wisconsin – 42 delegates, winner take all
April 19:New York — 95 delegates, proportional
April 26:  Connecticut — 28, proportional
Delaware — 16, winner take all
Maryland — 38, winner take all
Pennsylvania — 71, winner take all
Rhode Island — 19, proportional
May 3:  Indiana — 57, winner take all
May 10:  Nebraska — 36, winner take all
West Virginia — 34, direct election
May 17:  Oregon — 28, proportional
May 24:  Washington – 24, proportional
June 7:  California — 172, winner take all
Montana — 27, winner take all
New Jersey — 51, winner take all
New Mexico — 24, proportional
South Dakota — 29, winner take all

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that it is likely to come down to California – a winner take all state with 172 delegates.  The latest poll from the LA times shows Trump and Cruz neck and neck – and that was taken way back on March 23rd.  A Cruz victory looks likely if Trump doesn’t gain back momentum.

Assuming Cruz wins Wisconsin, what next?  If Trump keeps his comfortable 30% lead in New York, he’d likely get about 55 delegates.  He has a good lead in Pennsylvania, which is winner take all with 71 delegates.  There’s no real good polling on the rest, but let’s assume that Trump can win Maryland with 38 and New Jersey with 51.   Those states alone would give him 951.

Removing California for now, there would be 322 seats left. So if Trump loses California, he would need 286 of those 322 seats.  That’s not going to happen.  If he were to win California he’d need 114 of those 322 seats.  That is very likely to happen.

cruz

Second place is the best Cruz can do, and it may not be good enough.

From Trump the job is pretty straight forward.  Stop the bleeding, win where you’re expected to, and then win California.

His main challenger, Ted Cruz, may be on a quixotic mission.  He could deny Trump the nomination, but if you deny it to the guy with the most delegates, it’s hard to justify giving it to the guy with the second most.  The smart money would be on finding someone who can unify the party, perhaps John Kasich or Paul Ryan.

The anti-Trump blitzkrieg from Republicans is an amazing spectacle to behold.  It’s rare to see a candidate so mercilessly and personally lambasted, especially a leading candidate could be the standard bearer this fall.  If Trump can withstand this barrage and come out on top, Republicans will have no choice but to line up behind him.  He’ll have taken all they can give and withstood it – despite committing so many of his own unforced errors.

Bottom line: Trump has to stop his free fall,  win where expected, and then win California.  If he does win Wisconsin on Tuesday then path becomes much easier – and he’ll have momentum back.  For those wanting to dump Trump: California on June 7th will either be your victory or your Waterloo.   Then the fun begins.

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My Prediction: Kasich-Rubio

kasich

All the talk is about Cruz and Trump these days, but I don’t see either of them getting the Republican nomination.  Trump seems to be imploding.  He’s falling in the polls and his reality TV like gig is starting to wear on the American people.   Unless he mounts some kind of come back, he is looking less and less likely to go into the GOP convention with enough delegates to win the nomination.

Ted Cruz may be the “main challenger” to Trump now, but he’d need to win 80% of remaining delegates to come to the convention with the nomination in hand.  He is not going to do that.   And while he will claim he is the “top alternative” to Trump, he doesn’t have a strong argument.  After all, if it’s OK to deny the guy with the most delegates the nomination, it’s certainly just as legitimate to deny the nomination to the number two guy!

More important, Cruz has strong negatives against him.  First, the GOP establishment (i.e., almost all of the Senate) dislike him.  He is neither respected nor trusted.   Second, if Trump is denied the main role, there is a real danger that he’ll do and say things to try defeat the eventual nominee.  The Republicans will want to find a way to convince him to support the party.  One conditions is almost certain: the nominee can’t be Ted Cruz.  Trump has too much animosity towards him.  Indeed, Trump may be given the role of acting as the king maker, “voluntarily” removing himself from the running to endorse Kasich.  That way, he also saves face.

Why Kasich?  So far, except for very early in the campaign, Kasich has avoided engaging Trump directly.  He’s remained the adult –  and I’m betting the Republicans will find a way to get Trump to call on his delegates to support Kasich.  Revenge against Cruz might in part motivate such Trump graciousness.

cruzsex

It’s unclear how much truth there is to the rumors, but Cruz could also be facing a major sex scandal as the year goes on.

The case for Kasich will be stronger if he’s teamed with another major candidate – Marco Rubio.  Rubio may not have been ready for prime time in the Presidential ring, but he’s exactly the kind of Vice Presidential candidate someone Kasich would need.  Kasich is a midwest white Governor who is 64 years old.  A young hispanic Marco Rubio from Florida would be a perfect balance.

After all, what two states were the most consequential in the last four elections?  Yes – Ohio and Florida!

Such a ticket would have numerous advantages.  First, it could win.  Hillary is licking her chops eyeing both Trump and Cruz, two candidates with a track record that leaves them wide open for attack over past positions and statements.  Trump is, well, Trump.  Cruz is a bit creepy and not very likable.

dreamticket

A Republican dream ticket?

But what about the conservative base?   A few ardent Cruz supporters will be incensed that the establishment got their way, but Kasich is definitely a true conservative.  Yes, he’s pragmatic – that means he can deal with liberals and isn’t driven by ideological zeal.  But looking at his record over the years he is one of the more conservative politicians in the Republican party.   My bet is that a focus on his record will convince most who now would oppose Kasich to embrace him.   After all, once the heat of the campaign is underway their choice will be Kasich or Clinton (perhaps Sanders)!

Obviously this prediction seems a long shot.  Yet it seems increasingly unlikely that either Trump or Cruz will be the nominee — their constant exchange of insults belittle both of them.   Kasich is the best positioned to not only get the nomination but to win in November.

So that’s my March 30, 2016 prediction: Kasich-Rubio will emerge from the convention in Cleveland to represent the Republican party in November.

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Clinton vs. Sanders: who will win?

sandersbird

If you read the pundits, there are two prevailing arguments: 1) Bernie can win, and it’s a conspiracy of big media and the Democratic establishment to say Hillary is inevitable; or 2) Hillary has math on her side, and it’s hard to deny math.

So who is right, does Sanders have a chance?  Rather than rely on abstract arguments, conspiracy theories or dueling pundits, let’s get into the numbers.

As of March 27, 2016 the official total is Clinton 1712 vs. Sanders 1004.  That includes super delegates however – leading Democratic officials who have a voice at the convention – and those people could change their mind.  So removing super delegates it’s 1243 – 975.   Needed to get the nomination: 2383.

The super delegates currently pledged to Clinton are not going to be swayed easily – but the strongest argument for them to switch would be if Sanders would get the majority of pledged delegates going into the convention, meaning that the super delegates, if they choose Clinton, would be defying the voters.  They would be loathe to do that.

Here are the up coming primaries/caucuses:

Tuesday April 5:  Wisconsin, 96 delegates

Saturday April 9: Wyoming caucus, 18 delegates

Tuesday April 19: New York, 291 delegates

Tuesday April 26, Connecticut 70, Delaware 31, Maryland 118Pennsylania 210, Rhode Island 33 delegates

Tuesday May 3, Indiana 32 delegates

Tuesday May 10, West Virginia 33 delegates

Tuesday May 17, Kentucky 61, Oregon 73 delegates

Saturday June 5 – Sunday June 5, Virgin Islands 12, Puerto Rico 67 delegates

Tuesday June 7: California 546, Montana 27, New Jersey 142, New Mexico 43, North Dakota caucus 23, South Dakota 25 delegates

Tuesday June 14: District of Columbia caucus 46 delegates 

Next, turning to the polls, the only recent polls that show Clinton with a large advantage are ones a bit over a week old from Pennsylvania and New York.  Those are delegate rich states, and Clinton has leads of nearly 30 points in each.   In Arizona, a state Clinton won by 16 points, she had a 26 point lead in a poll near the election.  So these polls have to be taken with a grain of salt – she also had a big lead in Michigan (27 and 17 points), a state she ended up losing!

<> on June 13, 2015 in New York City.

New York is key for Clinton – if Sanders makes it close there, all bets are off!

Given that volatility, it seems obvious that Sanders still has a chance.   I thought her sweep on March 15th was decisive, especially when she won Ohio, but Sanders has bounced back from those loses.

Still, Sanders’ strength has been in caucus states – and almost all the delegates to come are chosen in primaries.  Right now the odds still favor Hillary, but it’s like a team sitting on  a lead in the NCAA tournament – the longer you allow the other team to stay in the game, the greater the odds of an unexpected come back.

Sanders path to victory:  Sanders has the Millennials, generating levels of support from young people that go beyond what Obama accomplished in 2008.   He has to generate at least some of that enthusiasm from older voters and minorities, something he has yet to do with any consistency.  Assuming Sanders can win the Wyoming caucuses, Wisconsin is fundamental.   A Sanders victory in Wisconsin, especially a decisive one, will force the media and pundits to reassess their calculation that Clinton is all but inevitable.

If he wins in Wisconsin, he’ll have two weeks to campaign in New York state, riding 5 straight victories, 7 of the last 8.  If he can make New York close, denying Clinton the decisive victory everyone expects, then the race will be razor thin.   (If he wins New York, Clinton will suddenly look like Northern Iowa against Texas A&M).

upset

Pardon the sports metaphor, but Texas A&M’s come back from being down 12 with a minute left against Northern Iowa is inspiration to underdogs everywhere!

If Clinton wins New York only narrowly, then we have another Super Tuesday on April 26th.  Of the states up that night, Pennsylvania and Maryland – two states which should be favorable to Clinton — will be center stage.  If Sanders wins CT, DL and RI, then he need only be close in those states.   A victory in either would be huge.

If Sanders does that – wins most states and holds Clinton close in NY, Penn and Maryland – then May will not be decisive, they’ll likely trade victories and the big showdown will be in California on June 7th.  If Sanders wins that – so late in the season – he’ll likely have the majority of delegates and the super delegates will be in exceedingly dangerous territory if they were to deny him the nomination.  Shorter version:  Sanders MUST win Wisconsin, and then fight close contests in states Clinton is expected to win.  If Sanders wins either New York or Pennsylvania, he becomes the favorite.  California may decide it.

Clinton’s path to victory:   Winning Wisconsin would be huge for Hillary – it would deflate the Sanders campaign and make it easier for her going into her home state contest in New York.  If she loses Wisconsin she has to win BIG in New York, and later Pennsylvania.  If she does that, the math should be on her side going into May.  Still, unless Sanders under performs the rest of the way it’s likely to be June before she would have the nomination in hand.

Bottom line:  This election is much closer than most people think, and closer than I expected it to be just a couple weeks ago.  The campaign matters and while Clinton remains the favorite, the fact she’s even in danger at this point underscores her problem.  She’s hasn’t convinced or inspired most Democrats yet.

 

 

 

 

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