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Who's Spoiling Now? Polling Indicates That Democrats Underrate Sanders' Superior Electability at Their Peril: PART 1

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Sanders' additional margin of safety places him beyond the margin of polling error around which Clinton's fluctuating numbers for her Republican match-ups are more commonly found. Sanders' numbers seem "almost like a rout" compared to a toss-up for Clinton. That makes Sanders, before winning a single primary, already the #1 favorite presidential candidate, notwithstanding the plutocratic media and Democratic Party apparatus doing as much as possible to oppose him.

Democratic voters have it exactly backwards. It is Sanders that should be attracting their near certain (87%) confidence of victory next November now accorded Clinton, while their doubts about a Sanders toss-up (49%) should properly attach to Clinton. Democrats are not just misinformed, but grossly misinformed, about the key issue of whether Clinton or Sanders will more likely win against Republicans. The cause of this ignorance, one labor leader argues, is the well-funded' effort to "consciously mislead" Democrats into believing "that [Sanders] cannot win," what she calls the "gaslight" strategy of persuading people they must be crazy to think that the most popular candidate could actually win a U.S. election over the opposition of plutocrats who "frankly own the place."

The 38% margin by which polled Democrats erroneously rank Clinton as the more electable, a virtual shoo-in, candidate probably explains a good deal of the margin of support among Democratic voters for Clinton over Sanders (30%). Certainly, not all Clinton supporters are using electability as their main criterion for preferring her in opinion polls. A possible alternative would be if there is something about Clinton that is so importantly preferable to voters so as to transcend their normal desire to defeat any of the likely Republicans.

Since the thoroughly establishment Clinton is not one to inspire great enthusiasm by force of personality, what obviously comes to mind as a possible factor is her gender identity. But the polls do not consistently support that theory. Any gender bias seems to be canceled out by the gender gap which has persisted since the beginning of women's suffrage. Women are more progressive than men, and so Sanders claims more women have donated to his campaign than to Clinton's, a possible measure of relative enthusiasm. It is the more conservative Democrats, naturally, who give Clinton her widest margin of support. In addition, it is reported that younger women are less concerned with identity politics than issues like inequality which will have greater actually experienced impact on their lives. Historically Clinton has done better with women over 65. Since younger women are better acclimated to the fact that a female presidency reached 92% acceptability over 15 years ago, it does not register with them as such a pressing issue to be fought for as the focus of a political campaign. As Margaret Thatcher proved, it is far more important to gender equality who the woman is than that a leader be a woman.

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In any event Sanders should have an excellent solution available to him for any lingering gender issue: her name is Elizabeth Warren, who declined to run for president but has said nothing yet about forming a Sanders-Warren ticket. At Sanders' age, the wise selection of a Vice President will be an important test of judgment. It would be a lapse of judgment not to be enthusiastically courting Warren to join the Sanders ticket and thereby move a woman with a remarkable life story and inherent likeability more surely toward the presidency than a Clinton nomination would necessarily do. An Iowa poll concluded that having Warren on the Sanders ticket would take 3% off Clinton's 9% advantage there, before she has even started to campaign.

Discussed in Part 2 of this article is a theory that Democrats' gross 38% error about electability is compounded by how a questionable assessment of President Obama likely affects voters' preferences to Clinton's advantage. These two factors, both based on misunderstandings, seem to account for the Democratic voters' lopsided but misplaced preference for Clinton.

On both counts it would be useful for these misled Democrats, when casting their primary votes over the next several months, to consider not just the fact that, but also the reason why, Bernie Sanders consistently outperforms Hillary Clinton against all Republicans. They should remember that it is independent voters, not narrowly divided partisan loyalists, who generally determine the outcome of typically close general elections. Much current polling of Republican match-ups shows Clinton finishing, win or lose, in or about the poll's margin of error. If Democrats really want to risk losing the 2016 election, with Supreme Court appointments, climate change policy and the myriad of urgently important unresolved issues at stake, they should by all means choose a partisan candidate who Independents strongly reject. The Q-Poll shows Clinton fits that job description like a glove.

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Other good polling news for Sanders of late is one showing him still solidly ahead of Clinton in his neighboring state of New Hampshire, along with historically high favorability margins over Clinton there (30%). Another poll shows Sanders losing New Hampshire Democrats but winning Independents by an equal margin, while holding on to a 20% favorability advantage over Clinton, even among moderates. Sanders' remarkable favorability advantage could communicate to other Americans that his neighbors, those who know him best, do like Bernie exceptionally well, as much as any major elected official in the country.

Also in the good news category is another poll with a 6% error value that had Sanders finishing only 20% behind Clinton nationally, roughly the same as Obama's 2008 numbers at the same point in the campaign. But this news was balanced by a recent poll showing Sanders as far behind in Iowa as he is in the rest of the country. Winning Iowa, plus New Hampshire, is key to shifting Sanders' momentum before super Tuesday. The redeeming flip side of the bad news from Iowa is explained by the NYT pollmeister Nate Cohn, who argues that these Iowa poll numbers do not fairly account for Bernie's unusually large lead with Iowa Independents. An earlier Q-poll confirmed that view by showing a slightly narrowing 9% spread between Clinton and Sanders in Iowa.

Notwithstanding this background data, the purpose of this article is not to attempt a meta-analysis of all available recent polls. Some with smaller samples may be inconsistent or not directly comparable with the independent, academic-based Q-poll. The purpose here is rather to extract useful longer term meaning about electability and the key role of Independents primarily from the detailed data of a single broad-ranging and historically reliable poll which is based on a statistically large sample, and is clearly no outlier.

2. Whose Centrist?

Theoretically, in a democratic two party system the more centrist Democrat should normally appeal most to independents. But that is not the end of the story. Many Clinton supporters may have missed the memo from the Democrats' only living former president who they can trust, Jimmy Carter . He tells us: "America has no functioning democracy at this moment." Though many who still vote are persuaded otherwise by the plutocracy's own media, the US has become a full-fledged plutocracy due to the line of typically 5-4 Supreme Court "money is speech" decisions, culminating in those notorious Roberts Court travesties of constitutional interpretation, Citizens United (2010) and McCutcheon (2014). These cases removed the last minimal restraints on systemic corruption. As a result both parties have now become so corrupt that a bipartisan Congress has joined the Supreme Court in enacting its own Influence Peddlers Protection Act of 2014 and another now again in 2015 when special interests extorted more than half ($650 billion) the amount of the federal budget in tax expenditures as the price for keeping the government open, while their rented politicians in return made the kickback process to themselves for this favor more private by establishing new legal rights to make secret ("dark money") kickbacks. See 107, 707 and 735, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016. The conventional wisdom about how democracies normally operate does not hold true for this free market for influence peddlers, open US election of 2016.

In this new environment of systemic in-your-face political corruption, for those Democrats concerned about electability to hew to the more centrist candidate is misguided for two reasons.

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First, a policy position in a plutocracy is "centrist" not because it is supported by a majority of voters distributed around the bulge of the bell curve between two narrower extremes on a policy axis sometimes described as running left to right. In a plutocracy centrist policy falls within the overlapping domain of concerns for which politicians are paid on a bipartisan basis to satisfy plutocrats. Congress and Obama's now annual Influence Peddlers Protection Acts, mentioned above, are a good example of the two parties using the annual end of year budget process as an excuse to deliver bipartisan Christmas goodies to plutocrats out of a down-the-chimney black-box Santa's gift bag for special interests that bypasses the normal legislative process where laws are supposed to use the front door. The plutocratic "center" which is jointly occupied in common by two plutocratic parties that deliver such goodies actually lies at a point on a different political axis at the far opposite extreme from democracy.

This bipartisan "plutocratic center" to which Clinton (like Obama) sticks like a magnet defines those safe positions that will not be undermined by unanswerable quantities of paid bipartisan campaign propaganda, and either attacks from or deliberate neglect by a plutocratic mass media. Plutocratic "centrist" positions therefore appear non-controversial by those who still get their news from the plutocratic mass media.

Unlike Clinton, Sanders consistently rejects policy positions that are centrist in this plutocratic sense, except those supported by the most overwhelmingly powerful lobbyists, the MIC, NRA and AIPAC who prohibitively own the public mind as well as Congress on their issues. On those latter issues Sanders tends to be more nuanced. But it would be wrong to conclude, as many Democrats do, that his other positions are therefore extreme. Sanders advocates virtually all majoritarian positions, scaling the top of that bell curve of voters views on issues far above Clinton's proposals, which remain ultimately mired in her debt to special interest investors.

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Rob Hager is a public-interest litigator who filed a Supreme Court amicus brief n the 2012 Montana sequel to the Citizens United case, American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, and has worked as an international consultant on legal (more...)
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