By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article here.
That’s not my headline at the top of this piece; it’s the Washington Post’s. The piece I’m about to quote tries to make a couple of points, one of which is that Clinton has now basically won the nomination with a lead that in “all likelihood” will be “insurmountable.” We’ll see about that after the last person votes — in June. Quoting Yogi Berra, the game isn’t over till it’s over. (For my take below on how Sanders wins, click here.)
But I’d like to look at the article’s other point, since the writer says something obvious to everyone in DC, but which no one says out loud. The Clinton campaign whether it succeeds or fails, is limping, and if it weren’t for its large early Deep South lead, in states no Democrat will win, she’d be losing to Sanders today. If you subtract the Deep South pledged delegates from both of their totals, Clinton is losing and Sanders is winning.
Not only that. Her overall lead is declining. Sanders will cut her current lead in half or better before this is over, if he doesn’t overtake her completely.
Clinton Has Gone From 30 Points Up to a Virtual Tie with 40% of the Contest Remaining
Now Dan Balz, who writes (my emphasis):
[H]er unexpectedly difficult nomination battle has taken a significant toll on her candidacy.
The damage to Clinton from her battle with Sanders is borne out in the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll. The longer this race has gone on, the more she has shown vulnerabilities. The top-line number that caught the eyes of so many analysts shows her now in a dead heat with Sanders nationally — ahead of him by just two percentage points, 50 to 48 percent. [But see the Reuters poll at the top.]
Those numbers have no influence on the state-by-state results but offer a window into both the success of Sanders in generating enthusiasm and Clinton’s inability to capitalize on all her political advantages. Since October, when her candidacy began rising again after several months of controversy about her use of a private email server, she has been on a downward slide. Her lead over the senator from Vermont has dropped from what was then a 31-point advantage to the current two points.
Meanwhile, her negative ratings have been rising and now outweigh her positives by 24 points, according to the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. That makes her seen no more favorably than Cruz is. Her only salvation is that Trump’s net negative is minus 41. Sanders, meanwhile, has a net positive of nine points — although it’s fair to say that one reason for that is that he has received far less in the way of attacks from Republicans or scrutiny from the media than Clinton has. [This last is standard Clinton camp spin; conventional explanation until shown otherwise]
Clinton’s image is at or near record lows among major demographic groups. Among men, she is at minus 40. Among women, she is at minus nine. Among whites, she is at minus 39. Among white women, she is at minus 25. Among white men, she is at minus 72. Her favorability among whites at this point in the election cycle is worse than President Obama’s ever has been, according to Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducted the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll with Democratic pollster Peter Hart.
Minority voters have been the linchpin of Clinton’s nomination strategy and were a key to her success in New York. Among African Americans nationally, the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows her with a net positive of 51 points. But that’s down 13 points from her first-quarter average and is about at her lowest ever. Among Latinos, her net positive is just two points, down from plus 21 points during the first quarter.
Reince Priebus earlier described the Clinton candidacy as “in the ditch“:
“Much more comfortable [running against Clinton] and I think everyone that has analyzed this knows that Hillary Clinton is in the ditch. We don’t know how far in the ditch she’s going to go but she’s not doing well. She’s not even winning,” Priebus said.
“Not even winning” is an obvious reference to her decline in all national polls against Sanders. Priebus may be a Republican and no Clinton fan, but here he’s just echoing what everyone else in DC knows — “her image is underwater” and the campaign is “in the ditch.”
Bottom line — Sanders will almost certainly make sure that every state votes. If a frustrated and angry Hillary Clinton (and her harshest surrogates) go even more negative, she’ll drag her down own unfavorables even further, making Sanders’ case for him that he should be the candidate in November. Her favorability rating is minus-24 now, and Trump’s is minus-41, proving there’s room to the downside.
This isn’t about wishing for her failure. But it is about looking at the trends and seeing what they imply about the national situation in July. If that poll at the top of this post, and others like them, start showing separation, with Sanders trending up to +10% or more, and if Sanders fundraising continues to soar — watch out.
At that point, Sanders won’t have to tell the Democratic Party to “nominate Bernie.” He won’t have to say a word. The whole of the non-Republican country will say it for him: “Are you really going to nominate the least electable candidate?” And then what will happen? (Hint: If the in-the-tank superdelegates nominate Clinton anyway, the result is on them, and you can say so as often as you like.)
Interesting times, yes?