The Ides of March: An unbiased look at Sanders' returns near the half-way point

The propagandists are out again in force, informing progressive voters that Bernie's chances were impaled on the Ides of March returns. They are already busy coaxing Sanders voters to abandon the corpse and support Clinton in the general election, as if the coronation had already occurred.

Of course the plutocratic mass media, and DNC operatives have been playing this same song for many months, so it should be no surprise. It is the same old fraud to sap morale from Sanders' supporters. "Don't invest there. His stock is falling."

It is useful therefore to make a reality check to sum up exactly what the results are to date in this historic 2016 election, in order to separate reality from both the propaganda and also from the rigged process.

Is Bernie winning or what?

Rigged Scoreboard

First, to describe the real world rather than the rigged one that keeps announcing that Clinton can't loose, it is necessary to change the DNC scorekeeper who distorts the score to suit the plutocrats who pay the DNC's tab.

In the real world the states that will elect a Democrat are known. They are called blue states. Which are the blue states? They are that minimal number of reliably Democratic states that, along with some swing purple states, are needed to win in the Electoral College. Blue states all voted Democrat in the narrowly divided election of 2000, and also in 2012. The currently blue state of New Hampshire was a purple state in 2000 and flipped that election to Bush. It was New Hampshire not Nader. The 2000 electoral map, plus New Hampshire, make up the 2000 election blue states that were then necessary to win the presidency. But the map changes with the census, which now requires Democrats to win some purple states at the same time that several purple states are in various phases of turning blue.

In 2012 Obama won Ohio, North Carolina and Florida. They are two high electoral vote purple states and one purplish-red state that were unnecessary for his victory. But Obama did need the purple states of Nevada, Colorado, Virginia and Iowa which are all varying shades of turning blue. Some combination of those seven various shades of purple states, plus the 2000 blue state map make up the meat and potatoes necessary to win the Electoral College. Everything else is gravy.

Red states are everything else. They are unnecessary and highly unlikely to contribute any electoral votes to a Democratic candidate, except in a landslide election. Since Democrats have not won a landslide since 1964, red states are for practical purposes irrelevant to any realistic Democratic strategy for a presidential victory. Red states should therefore be ignored for the most important element of that strategy, which is nominating the candidate that can best represent and hold together the minimal blue and purple state coalition necessary to win.

Currently the DNC rules do count red state delegates as if they had some essential role to play in the process. This is not only undemocratic, because it dilutes the voting power of blue and purple states in making their collective choice, it provides a playground where plutocratic money can more efficiently harvest delegates than elsewhere. In a fair and democratic system, red states would play no role in the process, other than providing a straw vote for the curious, and participating in such associational and non-electoral matters, such as writing the party platform.

A fair scorekeeper would however keep very close track of all the blue states, and also of at least a shifting winning share of the purple states. If the Sanders revolution is to restore democracy one of its essential goals, alongside changing the Supreme Court, should be to change the scorekeeper at the DNC. Changing this "rotten borough" and other rules would make the nomination of a candidate democratic rather than rigged to favor the plutocrat candidate, as as it is now.

The Ides

The immediate concern is the meaning of the March 15 results, which plutocrats present as the scene of the latest alleged assassination of Sanders' chances for the nomination. How do the Ides look from a democratic perspective rather than that of the assassins?

In the midst of all the depression and propaganda about the Ides of March results, it needs to be pointed out there was only one solid blue state in play, Illinois. There, for a third time, Sanders fought for a major blue state to a virtual tie. Sanders lost by just two delegates in Illinois. Illinois was otherwise similar to Sanders' historic virtual tie in blue state Michigan. There he won by seven delegates. One win, one loss - both were within a less than 2% margin. Only in comparison with Michigan is the Illinois result disappointing. Together they are historic. More on Illinois later.

Sanders also virtually tied in Missouri, a red state which will make no necessary contribution to a Democratic Electoral College victory and so its primary result should be considered as just a straw poll under democratic rules. The delegate count should be irrelevant to the selection of a Democratic nominee. as it should be in all other red states.

The other three states in play in the Ides of March primaries were two purple states that were unnecessary for Obama's 2012 victory, Ohio and Florida (which has a closed primary), and the mostly red state of North Carolina. The delegates from these states should count in the Convention but nowhere near as strongly as the blue state votes count, because they are neither essential nor likely for a 2016 victory. The voting weight should be based on, for example, the electoral votes North Carolina has contributed to Democrats in the electoral college during the previous generation. Under reasonable weighting, that number would be reduced by 60%, 25%, 15% and 5% for each previous year the state made no contribution. For example, North Carolina voted Democratic once in the last generation, in 2008. Its delegates' voting strength would be weighted at 25%. The same with other purple states, each with its own estimated probability for contributing electoral votes in 2016 based on past experience.

Blue state victor, purple state competitor

Before Illinois, other than Clinton's one delegate margin in Massachusetts, discussed below, Clinton had yet to win a single blue state and had no better than tied in purple states outside the South. March 15 added two more landslides to her southern purple state column, along with Ohio.
Under the fair system of counting delegates described above, not only is March 15 less significant than the media has treated it, but the red state reliance of Hillary Clinton for most of her delegate strength would and should entirely evaporate. In blue states, she has those two extra delegates in Illinois and the delegate in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts, had an unexplained 8% exit-poll anomaly which argues for a second DNC rule change that would discount the weight of any ballots from states that are not made on paper, and subject to hand re-count, which are also unconfirmed by reliable exit polls. One analysis of Massachusetts' returns alleges that the returns "indicate fraud." This virtual tie should be contested before the Rules committee where the credentials of Clinton's Massachusetts' delegates should be challenged. Until resolved this problem takes Massachusetts out of the Clinton win column, leaving the virtual tie in Illinois as her only blue state victory. The remainder of the blue state primaries were won by Sanders in landslides.

The purple state of Iowa also has alleged irregularities. That should also take the Iowa virtual tie out of the Clinton win column. Of the three remaining purple states required for victory, Sanders and Clinton traded landslide victories in Colorado and Virginia, for a tie. Clinton won Nevada by five percent, which is a little better than a tie. So on the essential purple states Clinton has slightly more than a tie, which is cancelled out by Sanders landslides in blue states. In three inessential purple states she won by wide margins comparable to Sanders' victories in blue states, but which should not convey the same voting power.

Summing up, in a fair run-off election conducted under fair DNC rules Sanders is ahead
Looking ahead, Sanders' six representative blue and purple state wins and four virtual ties (including Nevada) suggest his competitive strength going forward in each of five well-defined blue and purple state regions: the East Coast (represented by landslide victories in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and a tie in Massachusetts), Rustbelt Midwest (represented by offsetting virtual ties in Illinois and Michigan), Upper Midwest (represented by a landslide in Minnesota and tie in Iowa), Southern Rockies (represented by a landslide in Colorado), and Pacific Coast (roughly represented by a competitive race in Nevada). These are the regions that will elect a Democratic president. They augur well for a continued close race leaning to Sanders in the remaining blue states. The purple state elections - where Clinton has been strongest - have been completed.

Slow Strategy for Black Women

It is useful to look at some of these states in the Ides primaries from the perspective of asking why Sanders is losing. North Carolina was the last primary in Clinton's sweep of the almost all red deep South. Clinton's margin of victory there was largely accounted for by her 81% of black women voters, who were 19% of the primary electorate.

In the Ohio primary black women were 13% of the electorate compared to 8% for black men. While white men and women broke 3-2 respectively for Sanders and Clinton, black women voted more than 2-1 for Clinton. Again a good portion of Sanders' losing margin would have been erased if he had reversed this ratio of black women voters.

In Illinois, if Sanders had reduced by only about 10% his 32% losing margin among black women, who made up 17% of the primary electorate, Sanders would have won.

Sanders clearly has a black women problem that he has not yet addressed.

African American women first soundly defeated Sanders in South Carolina where this problem first hit him in the face, slamming the brake on the momentum from his enormous New Hampshire landslide. But there is no evidence of an effort by the campaign to address the problem, let alone solve it. So Sanders just keeps getting slapped down in one primary after another by a constituency that should be his strongest supporters on the merits of his record.

This is not a problem caused by black women, nor by insufficient small campaign contributions from people who trust their money is spent wisely, nor is it about insufficient enthusiasm from Millennials and others at large campaign events who are depending on Sanders for their future, nor about insufficient support from black intellectuals like the great democrat and Sanders supporter Dr. Cornel West, or Glen Ford and others.

The continued problem is due to nothing else than the apparent strategic incapacity of Sanders' own campaign to effectively communicate to black women a good reason to vote for him rather than for a Jim Crow candidate who helped foster the current civil rights crisis by advocating tough policing and welfare cuts in the 1990's.

Scalia's death bequeathed to Sanders' campaign the timely gift of a ready solution for this problem. Senator Sanders only needed to exercise his constitutional power to advise President Obama publicly to make an historic nomination of the first black woman justice on the Supreme Court. There are many qualified strong progressive black women who would make excellent Supreme Court justices. This would be Obama's historic Supreme Court legacy, like Thurgood Marshall was Lyndon Johnson's. Sanders could have embedded this recommendation in a major speech on civil rights, presented at Howard Law School, almost in sight of the Supreme Court. The speech would celebrate the profound contributions of black women and women abolitionists to American democracy, and the need to again deploy their considerable skills effectively in solving the current civil rights crisis as an integral part of Sanders' democratic revolution against plutocracy.

This opportunity was ignored by the campaign.

Since the only means the campaign makes available to communicate with it is the one way transaction of giving it money, perhaps a contribution boycott would wake it up. Otherwise Sanders may lose the election of 2016 for no other reason than an incompetent campaign which was unable to communicate effectively its support for its essential constituency of black women voters who never received the message.

Were the campaign to solve this black women problem the narrow blue and purple state losses or virtual ties would be converted to clear Sanders victories, and significant purple state losses into ties. The red state wipe outs would become victories and ties. The campaign would have only built accelerating momentum straight out of New Hampshire.

The Sanders campaign is the people's campaign, funded by the people, energized by the people, and the people are crowding the polls in the only places that should count. The people were unable to also take on the task of communicating with black women voters on behalf of the campaign, as needed. Only the campaign could perform this strategic task. The campaign would be clearly winning at this point, if it had competently handled this issue. The outcome now remains unnecessarily close and uncertain, because it did not. It is still not too late to turn this negative factor into a positive for the remainder of the campaign, if Sanders would campaign for Obama to make a recess appointment of a progressive black woman.

DNC Rules Initiative

The nomination is possibly now dependent on the interpretations of rules by the DNC.

It is again true that contesting the undemocratic rules of the DNC can be organized only by the campaign, not by the people supporting the campaign. Perhaps the campaign's all but fatal, and ongoing, failure to seize the opportunity to appeal to black women voters will prompt it to up its game in taking on the DNC rules problem. In the end, a list of undemocratic rules could determine the nomination, including those for, 1) credential contests over election machine fraud and other irregularities in counting votes or resolving election law violations, such as in Massachusetts and Iowa, 2) blatant conflicts of interest among Superdelegates and the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, 3) the red state "rotten borough" problem described above, and 4) overvaluing results from closed, or partially closed, duopoly primary states like Florida and Massachusetts. Just as these rules could undemocratically determine the outcome of the 2016 election that has attracted more democratic energy than most, they can continue to distort primary elections in the future.

One of the most important outcomes of the last comparable electoral insurgency within a rigged electoral system, in 1968, resulted in the 1972 DNC rules changes which have allowed Sanders to get as far as he has in 2016. Superdelegates represent backsliding in those changes, but the 1972 rules otherwise remain largely in place. The 1968 insurgency resulted in an untenable choice between a candidate seen as warmonger and and another who was a crook, and run out of office.

Similar reform of the rules to finally convert at least one of two parties into a vehicle that can reliably nominate the people's choice in blue and purple states would be a valuable outcome in 2016.

The Sanders campaign, waged on behalf of the people and using the people's money, needs to prepare a strategy to reform the DNC's rules so that Sanders' victories given him at the polls by the people can be honored by placing the people's choice, not the plutocrat's choice, on the ballot in November.

It is doubtful that the Sanders campaign could withstand strategic failure on both of these potentially fatal issues. By working on the reform of DNC rules, the Sanders campaign can leave an important legacy however the nomination turns out.