Sanders won the West Virginia primary by 51.4% to 35.8% on May 10. That 15.6-point victory margin got him a 18-11 split of pledged delegates and cut Clinton’s lead among pledged delegates to 283.
To have a shot at overtaking Clinton, Sanders needs to increase his vote share to about 70% in the 11 remaining contests. But that slim chance keeps hope alive for Sanders supporters and prevents Clinton from pivoting to the center, at least until the June 7 primaries that include California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota and the June 14 finale in the District of Columbia.
It is unlikely that either candidate will win the nomination with 2,383 pledged delegates, so the 714 unpledged “superdelegates” will decide the race — and Clinton leads among those Democratic party officials 524-40, with 150 yet to declare their support.
So Sanders is still in the race but Clinton is the odds-on favorite to claim the nomination. She leads Trump in national polls, but Democrats were alarmed that Quinnipiac University polls released May 10 showed very close races between Clinton and Trump in the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.
In the general election campaign, Trump will try to draw off some of Sanders’ supporters by running to Clinton’s left on some issues, such as Trump’s proposal to repudiate trade agreements that have encouraged multinational corporations to move manufacturing overseas, and his proposal to unilaterally impose tariffs on products made outside the United States. Even then, Republicans will need to step up the mudslinging to raise Clinton’s negatives to Trump levels.
To head off Trump, Clinton should adopt much of Sanders’ progressive agenda. On Face the Nation on May 8, Clinton said she was “very heartened to hear [Sanders] say last week that he is going to work seven days a week to make sure Donald Trump doesn’t become president. And I want to unify the party. I see a great role and opportunity for him and his supporters to be part of that unified party, to move into not just November to win the election against Donald Trump, but to then govern based on the progressive goals that he and I share.”
She noted, “We both want to raise the minimum wage. We both understand you have got to rein in bad actors on Wall Street and in corporate America to make sure they don’t wreck Main Street. We have a lot of the same goals. And I hope we can unify around them.”
Clinton and the Democrats might give Trump and the Republicans the drubbing they deserve just because Trump is loathed by women, Latinos, blacks and Muslims. But it would help if she could give those groups, as well as young people and the blue-collar whites who are attracted to Sanders as well as Trump, solid reasons to vote for her by stealing Sanders’ progressive populist agenda. And it could help Democrats regain the Senate and the House.
A nationwide poll of 2,200 registered Latino voters by Latino Decisions and America’s Voice in April found that 79% of Latino voters said they were very unfavorable towards Trump and another 8% were somewhat unfavorable. Clinton and Sanders both were favorable to 61% of Latino voters. The poll also found the Trump’s campaign has severely damaged the Republican brand among Latino voters, as nearly three out of four Latino voters believe the GOP has shunned Latino voters, while 42% say the party “doesn’t care too much about Latinos” and 31% agree the party is “sometimes hostile toward Latinos.”
In 2012, Latinos voted in record numbers and helped President Obama win re-election. In the April poll, 48% said they were more enthusiastic about the 2016 election.
States where a big Latino vote could impact key Senate races as well as the presidential race include Arizona, where Latinos are 21.5% of the electorate and John McCain (R) faces a heated challenge for re-election; Colorado, were Latinos are 14.5% of the electorate and Michael Bennett (D) faces a challenge; Florida, where Latinos are 18.1% of the electorate and there is an open race to replace Marco Rubio (R); Illinois, where Latinos are 10.5% of the electorate and Mark Kirk (R) faces a tough challenge from Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D); and Nevada, where there is an open race to replace Harry Reid (D).
This election also could motivate Texas Latinos to vote in proportion with their numbers. Latinos are 28.1% of the Lone Star State’s eligible voters but in 2012 only 39% of eligible Texas Latinos cast a ballot, compared with 61% of eligible white Texans. Approximately 2.9 million Hispanic Texans who were eligible didn’t vote. And Latinos who vote tend to vote Democratic.
“If Hispanic voter mobilization efforts were successful in the state, Texas would be as competitive as Florida in statewide contests, including presidential elections,” Sylvia Manzano of Latino Decisions wrote in February 2014.
It would help if Democrats raised populist economic issues that would help working-class families — which would appeal to whites, blacks, Latinos and other groups.
Clinton should support raising the minimum wage to $15 or whatever Democrats can get through Congress. She should push for enhancements to the Affordable Care Act that move it closer to universal healthcare, such as allowing people to buy into Medicare as a public option to compete with private insurance companies. On May 10 she moved in that direction, suggesting that people in their fifties be allowed to buy into Medicare.
Clinton also should embrace measures to reduce the burdens of higher education debt, restore Pell Grants and other federal assistance to help middle-class as well as lower-income families defray the costs of colleges and universities. That could be paid by taxing financial transactions, as Sanders has suggested.
Clinton also should embrace Sanders’ plan to expand Social Security benefits by eliminating the cap on the payroll tax on income above $250,000.
Although she was a strong advocate of labor unions in the Senate, blue-collar workers remember that Bill Clinton as president promoted the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Those workers question her recent opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she promoted as secretary of state. She might go a long way toward rebuilding that trust if she called on Democratic members of Congress to stand fast against the pact, even in a lame duck session after the election, when it is expected to be brought up.
Trump has little credibility in his populist pose, but it’s gotten him this far. Trump is a charlatan, a real estate developer who has taken four failing businesses through bankruptcy from 1991 to 2009. Now he suggests that he might try to renegotiate the national debt. He’s also a reality TV show producer and a con man who faces two lawsuits inf federal court and one in state court in New York that accuse him of fraud in his “Trump University” scam. And he said May 11 he won’t release his tax returns because there’s nothing in them that would be of interest.
Trump has been wildly inconsistent in his policy proposals. His criticism of trade pacts is in contrast with his practice of outsourcing of Trump-branded clothing to factories in China and Mexico. His hotels have resisted organizing efforts. Trump also supports “right to work” laws that weaken labor’s ability to organize and collect dues and he said last November that American “wages are too high.” On May 8 he said he would like to see the states increase their minimum wages, but he doesn’t want the federal government to set the standard.
At least one Supreme Court seat will be open going into the election, and three more justices (Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer) will be in their 80s under the next president. That’s enough of a reason to vote Democratic. — JMC
From The Progressive Populist, June 1, 2016
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