Why “Demexit” Is an Empty Threat

(Taking a brief break from focusing on the coronavirus to look at the upcoming election and funky shit going on about it in social media.)

Here in the middle of a historic national crisis, I’m still seeing people on social media say Joe Biden should not be the Democratic nominee. Maybe he shouldn’t, but here in Reality World, Biden is going to be the nominee as long as he makes it to the convention alive and breathing. There’s really no point arguing about “shoulds” any more. We’re past that point. Continuing to argue against Biden’s nomination is a bit like arguing that the Texas Rangers shouldn’t trade Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees. It’s done already.

By all means, go ahead and vote for another candidate in your primary if it hasn’t happened yet, and work to get out the vote for Sanders if you wish. And for those who don’t know me, I voted for Sanders in my state’s primary, which he lost to Biden, 35 percent to 60 percent. In 2016, it was Clinton 49.61 percent, Sanders 49.36 percent.

That’s the basic story of the 2020 primaries, in a nutshell. Sanders is not doing nearly as well as he did in 2016. That’s the hard reality.

Now, how much should Biden worry about younger lefty voters withholding their votes from him in November? Not too much, actually.

Biden needs some Sanders primary voters to support him in November, since Sanders has won about 31 percent of the national popular vote so far. But he doesn’t need every single one.

Note that Sanders received about 47 percent of primary votes in 2016, so he’s doing considerably worse overall now, possibly because younger voters are voting at lower rates this year and the union/working class votes he got in 2016 are now going to Biden.

Some Sanders-or-bust voters might stay home in November; that happens to some degree in every election.

But most Sanders voters don’t fit that description. According to a recent Morning Consult poll, 82 percent of Sanders supporters say they would vote for Biden in the general election, and just 7 percent said they would vote for Trump. And Quinnipiac University found that 86 percent of Sanders voters would vote for Biden, 3 percent would vote for Trump, 2 percent would vote for someone else, 4 percent wouldn’t vote, and 5 percent didn’t know who they’d vote for.

Of course, in a close election, every vote counts. So the Sanders voter factor is of some concern, but the Sanders camp doesn’t have nearly enough voting leverage to issue threats or make demands, sorry.

On the one hand, it’s possible that some of the anti-Hillary, conservative Democratic voters that Sanders won in places like Oklahoma and West Virginia are now Republicans who didn’t participate in the 2020 primary. But it’s also possible that a handful of those voters back Biden. For instance, he’s already been doing better than Sanders among white primary voters without a college degree, a group Sanders won handily in 2016.

So the tradeoff for Biden in 2020 may be that he loses youth turnout but gets more votes from suburban moderate types who are older. Given that older voters are more reliable voters, that might be an OK trade for Biden.

Basically, demographic groups who can’t be counted on to vote don’t get catered to by politicians.

Sanders’s argument before the primaries started was that he would do better with union and working-class and younger voters, as he did in the 2016 primaries. Younger voters in particular were anticipated to show up in record numbers. But the union/working-class vote has been going to Biden, and the youth vote turnout has been lower than in 2016. And Biden has been crushing Sanders with African-American and suburban voters, two groups considered most vital to beating Trump in November.

And no, there are no exit polls that show that Sanders should have won a lot of primaries that he lost but the evil DNC somehow changed the vote in spite of the fact that the DNC doesn’t run primaries; state election commissions run primaries. I keep seeing claims of these exit polls, but I have looked and looked and have yet to find solid evidence of one. I believe if such exit polls existed we’d be hearing about it from the Sanders campaign.

What about independent voters? I understand independents have preferred Sanders to Biden in several primaries, but that tells us nothing about how they are going to vote in November. And there are polls that show lefty-leaning independents preferring Biden to Sanders. Independents are not a monolithic group, but at the end of the day most independents lean toward one of the two parties and will vote for the nominee of the party they prefer, even if that nominee wasn’t their first choice. That’s the historic pattern.

The real determining factor in November is how badly independent voters will want to get rid of Trump. Few are going to think, “Gee, I hate Donald Trump with a white-hot passion, but I guess I won’t vote for Joe Biden because he wasn’t the best nominee.” No; they will vote for a bleeping gerbil to get rid of Trump.

On the other hand, if by November Trump doesn’t seem to be doing that badly, he could win a second term, and that would be true no matter who the Dem nominee is. In a close election, incumbents do have an advantage.

So, to those who haven’t yet adjusted to reality, please stop embarassing yourself with empty boasts about how millions of disaffected people will somehow do something that will teach the DNC a lesson. If it didn’t happen during the primaries, it’s not going to happen, period.

If you want to be useful, do whatever you can do to elect Democrats to the Senate and House. Because it’s really going to be Congress, not the president, who decides if the Green New Deal or Medicare for All becomes law. And, frankly, even if Sanders somehow sweeps the rest of the primaries and becomes POTUS, neither is likely to happen in a first term. Paul Krugman, last January:

What about Joe Biden? The Sanders campaign has claimed that Biden endorsed Paul Ryan’s plans for sharp cuts in Social Security and Medicare; that claim is false. What is true is that in the past Biden has often been a Very Serious Person going along with the Beltway consensus that we need “adjustments” — a euphemism for at least modest cuts — in Social Security. (Actually, if you go back a ways, Sanders turns out to have said similar things.)

But the Democratic Party as a whole has moved left on these issues, and Biden has moved with it. Even if he has a lingering desire to strike a Grand Bargain with Republicans — which I doubt — he would face such a huge intraparty backlash that he would be forced to back off.

So in terms of policy, here’s what I think would happen if Sanders wins: we’ll get a significant but not gigantic expansion of the social safety net, paid for by significant new taxes on the rich.

On the other hand, if Biden wins, we’ll get a significant but not gigantic expansion of the social safety net, paid for by significant new taxes on the rich.

One implication, if I’m right, is that electability should play a very important role in your current preferences. It matters hugely whether a Democrat wins, it matters much less which Democrat wins.

And if the GOP keeps control of the Senate, we’re screwed, no matter who is POTUS.

So, all of you people intoxicated with self-righteousness who are thumping your chests and proclaiming you will remain pure and principled and not vote for Biden and will lead millions of people out of the Democratic party and show the Democrats what’s what — please try to join the rest of us in Reality World. Oh, and take care against the Trump flu. Thanks much.

10 thoughts on “Why “Demexit” Is an Empty Threat

  1. I'm really afraid They that Trump Flu will spike hard next week and the week after. The result could be that the health system is overwhelmed. Be it true everywhere or in isolated spots, in Italy they aren't trying to save patients over 60. They don't have the ventilators and facilities. I'm 67. Fatalities in the US are doubling every three days.

    I read the post, Barbara. If fatalities in the US run over a million people, hitting the elderly voters especially hard, Trump will move from Florida to Scotland in 2021. If Trump tries to ease social distancing standards when we are at 2000 dead, and the toll spikes like Spain, Trump will get tarred and feathered in Mir A Lago. Old people will be building replica guillotines in October to sacrifice orange pumpkins with comb-overs in early November. 

    I hope the election is competitive but I don't expect it will be. The only way the election will be competitive is if the rate of spread changes bigly fastly. The curve as it stands, with 'experts' predicting a peak in three weeks, spells disaster. The silver lining is that Trump will take a beating in November. If the toll hits two million, he may resign with a medical excuse (severe bone spurs) to spare himself the extreme humiliation of a November rout.

    So I hope the election is competitive and we have less than 100,000 dead. Even under those conditions, Biden should win. Bernie should continue to speak the truth – progressives should push a Biden candidacy and presidency as hard as possible. I think Trump is toast and we're going to pay very dearly to seal it.

  2. I think Trump is toast

    I’ll believe it when I see it. This is a country that elected GW Bush not once, but twice. Trump’s base is still in love with him. And there will be no shortage of dirty tricks – especially given all the chaos in this country – played to keep him in power / out of jail. I recall the words of Michael Cohen: “I fear what happens if Trump loses in 2020” – from a man who knows better than any of us. He has to stay in power to stay out of jail.

    The wingnuts are primed to see Joe Biden as a senile old man, and Biden sadly can do little to rebut this – they have a point – which keeps people from psychologically being open to Biden.

    • I agree with your skepticism. It's not trump that is the problem,although he is big bag of shit. It's the morally impaired base that supports him where the danger lies. He's got the formula down for serving up to his base a bunch of empty platitudes and blatant lies that allows them to hear whatever they want to hear. He tickles their ears. That's why so many are quick to say… He tells it like it is. He just confirms their fears, prejudices, and hatreds while making himself the vehicle to openly express those repressed shortcomings of character and emotional qualities.

       "Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden with gnarled emotional baggage. For I shall absorb and bare your shame and smite your enemies. I will make America great again"

  3. JAAAAAAAAAAAZOOS H. KEEEEEEEERIST banging the back of his head on the cross, and biting his nails – the ones holding him up in the air!

    Listen, you purist lil' snowflakes, GET OVER YOURSELVES!

    Not everything is a Manichean duality of black v. white, or pure good v. pure evi!

    Obama was the best POTUS in my life.  But was he exactly what I wanted?  No.  I wanted a 21st Century African-American FDR!

    Obamammmmm was a bit too conservative, and also too Chicago School of Economics for my taste.  But in my opinion, he was far better than Hillary, or any of the other early Dem candidates.

    Did I hold my nose and vote for him?  NO!!!  I voted for him enthusiastically!  Even before McCain chose Sarah "Le Schnook of the North" Palin, there was no chance I'd vote for him over a Democrat!

    So, even if you don't love Biden, vote for him.  Or, whoever the Democratic candidate is, if it won't be him!

    I'd rather have a rabid honey-badger as POTUS, than tRUMPleTHINSKIN!!!   

    And hey, let's be careful out there!

    • The rabid honey-badger sounds better every moment I think of it. It might bite the right people.


  4. We're over 1000, a day sooner than I predicted. We're a week from the most optomistic change in the rate of spread. That's 2K, 4K, 8K, probably in the can. We just don't have the names yet for markers. Someplace around 10 to 15K it's going to get personal to a lot of people. Before it's done, most of us will know a victim, or be one, or both if we're the survivor.

    I think Trump is stupid and greedy enough to try to open the economy. He's not allowed to tap the stimulus money and the closing of his empire is costing Trump a half-mil per day. So they say. Trump is going to want people out on his golf courses – he might not have the resources to withstand a sustained closing. This will be his ruin, to be pumping sunshine and pimping his golf courses as thousands die. Weird, macabre, obscene but with his empire on the line… He'd be the first POTUS bankrupted in office by his own stupidity. Yeah, I think he'll completely lose touch with the surrounding catastrophe because money is his measure of his own worth.  If he's broke, he's nothing.

  5. It is hard to see and admit but I have been thinking this virus is a good thing for humans as a whole.  Except for the stupid and selfish, we are being forced to live a quieter life, do  more reflecting, praying, meditating and hopefully just be better people.  I am inclined to think in metaphysical ways and admittedly view viruses to be very weird but on the other hand, I have been told God works in mysterious ways.

    Back in 1987 (not sure of the year) there was something called the Harmonic Conversion which was an exceptional alignment of the planets.  I remember reading at that time it was an opportunity for more light to come into the world.  Because I'm old and retired I have a lot of time to think.  Personally, I believe humans are on the verge of a big evolutionary jump.  After all, why do we think we are the cat's meow, the ultimate creation ever?  In my opinion, there is much room for improvement.  There is also the concept that we are moving into the 4th dimension (ask Michio Kaku) and we will need bodies, both spiritual and physical to survive in that dimension.  The universe and the earth are evolving and all life on earth must evolve also if it is to survive. Now I realize that many reading this will think I'm cuckoo but these are not my ideas.I'm only repeating what I read and find fascinating.  I also realize that it sounds like science fiction but I will remind you that before the Titanic sank, someone wrote a book about a ship named Titan that was eerily just like the real experience.

    Anyway, as I said I have a lot of time to read, think, meditate and dream, so indulge me and think about this.  After all truth is stranger than fiction. 

  6. I still think there's a strong chance that the Dem party will bait & switch at the convention, nominating someone else (not Biden, not Bernie).  Biden really doesn't seem up for campaigning, much less governing.  I had feared they'd turn back to HRC, but the most likely option right now seems like Cuomo, who's been making headlines doing Coronavirus pressers, like a "shadow" president.

    Cuomo has some baggage which will repel some lefties, but not enough to lose big blue states.  OTOH, Biden's Baggage List is awfully long (bad votes running back decades; the "handsy" thing; and most importantly now, an apparent cognitive decline).

    I had hoped that the Dems might look for a compromise candidate, a progressive who hasn't scared the Party Regulars (Warren?  Sherrod Brown?), but that doesn't seem likely now.

  7. As we are now in a welfare state due to the inaction and denial of our Russian installed leader, do we really need a top down aura of socialism?  Biden is well experienced in government, and is highly unlikely to make us suffer from the micro management techniques and political pandering that has gotten us into this pickle.  But most importantly, he will certainly pick competent people for top jobs.  That alone is a huge improvement over what we have now.  

    The primary is over for all practical purposes, I must agree.  The system has decided Biden will most certainly be the candidate to take on Trump.  It is time for me to do what I said I would do, which is support the candidate chosen who is not Trump.  Biden is a guy you would not mind having a beer or two with.  That would be plenty, though, as he like Trump would dominate any conversation and one would be reduced to audience level social interaction at best.   

    The biggest reason to like Biden is that he would resist what Katherine Stewart calls religious nationalism.  I would not use that term because religious is too loosely defined of a term.  I would prefer metaphysical nationalism as it would less likely be misinterpreted.  Then one could define more easily what we are talking about without facing reflex like opposition from self appointed defends of the faith.  

    We all want to know the  ultimate meaning of life, God and the Universe.  This would be all the answers to both Metaphysics and Physics.  As we have read, in the text of Douglas Adams, the answer to this question is 42.  As we have also read we are totally incapable of understanding why that is the answer is correct.  In my judgement, the super improbability drive might be an important notion in such understanding.  I just assume here that everyone is exposed to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    So metaphysical nationalism I would prefer as the term but Katherine Stewart's piece in the Times is outstanding and to the point.  It is frightening but real.  She points much blame at Evangelicals, though they may only be the tip of the iceberg.  When metaphysical thinking is wrongly elevated to dominating level we get the most dysfunctional form of politically correct.  To close the circle this error is the one Biden is much more likely to correct.  


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