March to the Finish

Hillary Clinton in Coralville, Iowa, Nov. 3

Hillary Clinton in Coralville, Nov. 3

BIG GROVE TOWNSHIP, Iowa — This headline in this morning’s Boston Globe says it well, “Clinton and Trump are now the presumptive nominees. Get used to it.”

Author James Pindell attributes the appellation to math.

“They have accumulated more delegates than any other candidates in their parties for the national conventions,” he wrote. “Both won three of four early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Not a single candidate with those win records has ever lost his or her party’s nomination in modern presidential political history.”

Presumptive. Get used to it. Got it.

While few saw Trump coming a year ago, people have been saying Hillary Clinton was the likely Democratic nominee for president since before she announced on April 12, 2015. They were right then and now.

The nominating process set up by Democrats after the debacle of 1968 is working. It fielded a group of candidates, winnowed the field, and is moving rapidly toward nominating Clinton. Clinton needs 2,383 delegates to the July 25 national convention to win. After last night she has 1,001 to Bernie Sanders’ 371. With the remaining delegates, Sanders needs to do much better than Clinton. But for the details of how the race plays out, as Pindell indicated, it is over.

In Iowa the Super Tuesday result means as soon as Sanders bows out, needed revenue from the Clinton campaign can begin to flow to the Iowa Democratic Party. My quote of Iowa politico Jerry Crawford from last year bears repeating.

“In all the races I’ve been involved with of various kinds it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Crawford said on Iowa Press. “Iowa, the Iowa Democratic Party, our ticket in this state desperately needs the general election assets that Hillary Clinton will bring as our party’s standard bearer. That’s the way we recover from what was a very, very tough 2014 election.”

As I wrote at the time, the coordinated campaign should be blown up and re-invented. It’s money that holds us back. Democrats are damned if we raise it and damned if we don’t.

One of the successes of the Iowa Republican Party since Jeff Kaufmann took the reins has been generating cash for operations. Democrats in a donor poor state still rely on the presidential candidate, and partly because of it, the race has focused disproportionately on electing the president. As my own data crunching during the 2012 race affirms, a winning president doesn’t have enough coat tails to carry all of the down ticket races in Iowa. If he did, my state house candidate would have won his race. This is a basic problem with Iowa Democratic politics: not enough money and too much focus on the presidential horse race. A corollary is not bringing enough new people into the party.

People suggest retaining the new people Bernie Sanders recruited to his campaign is important, and it is.

Rod Sullivan Feb. 22, 2016

Rod Sullivan Feb. 22, 2016

At the same time, each electorate is different and there is no expectation everyone who voted or caucused for Sanders in the primary will continue to be involved in a general election campaign for Hillary. The idea we should “do things” to retain them is ridiculous and counter productive. The narrative of momentum and a linear procession from announcement to primary to election is a bankrupt one. People will make their general election decision based on information available to them as election day approaches.

The power of politics has more to do with what people we know are doing. To the extent the power and influence of national media can be mitigated, voters will make a sound decision. However, media continues to shape opinions to the extent Republicans I know are trying to accommodate a Trump vote despite his demagoguery. It’s the media that puts them in this situation.

As the case of Trump indicates, elections no longer are about logic and reasonableness. To elect a candidate we each must work to influence people in our circles. As we march to the finish of another presidential election it is important to remember we have a sphere of influence… and to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain pulling the levers.

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