27 February 2016

Another political science point

Political science point that emerged in the result of South Carolina as a narrative among Sanders' fans. 

Supposedly, I am told, the lower Democratic primary turnouts relative to Republican primary turnout are a bad omen as a basis for how well Clinton will do later on. The only thing they were a bad omen for was the message and campaign of Bernie Sanders, which would need higher turnout (mostly among younger voters, and mostly whiter voters) both to succeed and be competitive against Clinton or to establish the narrative upon which he was running in the first place (that he would excite and attract new voters to the Democratic ticket). This has not happened. I have regarded it as a bad sign for this theory that there are indeed new legions of very liberal voters. There has always been a constituency of liberal voters within the Democratic party (particularly among younger voters) and certainly these have been more energized voters by Sanders than by Clinton. But this is different than saying these are many new voters.

In any case. This concept very likely has little to do with anything later on. This is a common problem among Sanders fans is they seem to expect politics to operate on the peek-a-boo principle of whatever I saw last is how it works. But it actually typically follows predictable principles. Those have broken down in the Republican primary which is a total clusterfuck of insanity, for various reasons (they've been out of power for a while in Presidential terms meaning they cannot enact much of their agenda, frustrating base voters, they have moved very far to the right as a party where moderating influences are less effective, and they have pretty poor quality political figures from which to choose from, which failed to crowd out crazy people). I don't think these exist as problems in the Democratic party, at least in this cycle. The rules were still the same. For example. Appealing to people other than white liberal voters is a necessity in their political party (both to win a nomination and to win a general election), because white liberals are not a majority of their polity, much less the country as a whole. Sanders wasn't able to do that, or at least hasn't been able to so far. This was obvious months ago. Comment threads after he was pretty handily beaten in South Carolina involving Sanders fans remain pretty ignorant of this problem as to how it would translate to other states of more significance to both the Democratic nomination and to the general election (say Virginia, Florida, Colorado, or Ohio).

To the specific point. Participation in primary elections is much higher with multiple candidates when it is seen to be competitive, among more partisan voters, and with an older and whiter voting bloc (all of which tends to be Republicans). Participation in a Presidential election cycle is determined by other factors, but it's basically way, way higher among all demographic groups than partisan primary elections. Comparing these two things is unlikely to mean very much as it isn't even apples to oranges. It's more like comparing peppers to cookies for who shows up and why.

That does not mean that Democrats should or will be complacent with a Clinton nomination against an increasingly strange possibility of a Voldemort GOP nomination. They really cannot be complacent against the still plausible case of a Rubio nomination (I still have a bet to win there), assuming Voldemort doesn't go rogue and run as an independent at that point, as they still have a good chance of losing in that scenario. They will still need a large turnout operation, in part based upon having plausible policy goals, but mostly based upon "look at this horrible person the other people have nominated! We must defeat them!". Since that seems to be what gets voters to come out.

But this is not a sensible worry for now to concern Democratic/liberal voters. Clinton is not a talented politician, and not a popular person, but she's far more skilled at campaigning than any of the idiots in the GOP race who couldn't take out Voldemort, and she's still noticeably more popular than he is.

*Note: I am extremely unlikely to vote for Clinton. I would probably have to make a voting error to do so. I will almost certainly vote third party. I am not a Clinton backer. This is simply me observing the structure of the primary race and the things that are worrying people from within it. I did this in 2012 with Romney voters and would have gladly made some money off of them if they hadn't chickened out.
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