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understanding the bernie strategy

2008primary

Source: RealClear Politics.

A lot of people have wondered how Bernie Sanders will prevail over Hilary in the upcoming primary. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were planning to attack Hilary in much the same way that Obama did. First, indirectly attack Hilary’s framing as a candidate. Frontal assaults seem to fail. Obama offered a counter-frame of “newness.” Sanders, probably, is trying a counter framing strategy that focuses on inequality, which resonates with the Demcoratic party electorate.

Second, focus on tipping points. As the chart above shows, Obama did not became the national favorite until after he won Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina. In other words, don’t worry about national averages and focus on early states. If you win, then worry about national polls. Third, should you actually win a few early states, you need a deep on the ground strategy that maximizes delegates according the DNC’s arcane rules. This is how Obama won despite falling behind in the popular vote count when he lost big states (like California).

It is clear that Bernie is working on the first two points, which makes sense. You won’t dent Hilary’s national numbers so there is no point in trying. The goal isn’t winning national polls or even decreasing Hilary’s popularity, but boxing in Hilary’s support in between 40% and 50% and attracting all undecided voters. Currently, he’s succeeding in that Hilary is still in the low 40% range in the RCP rolling average. He’s also making gains in Iowa.

The problem for Bernie is that he might not have the infrastructure needed to fight in later rounds. Astute readers know that the Clintons have done poorly in early states only to make up ground in large states where you win through media and name recognition (see 1992 – Bill Clinton lost nine out of ten early primary/caucuses before steaming ahead in the March round). I suspect that Hilary 2016 will replay like Bill 1992 and Hilary 2008. The only question is whether the Bernie can win Iowa and then pad the delegate count before Clinton’s machine picks up steam.

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Written by fabiorojas

October 15, 2015 at 8:01 am

2 Responses

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  1. Sounds sane, except for only one thing. Obama caught Hillary napping. Nobody in the national Dem braintrust was even thinking of the caucus states if you’re just trying for the nomination, only of blue states for the national. For example, you can round up both of the liberals in Wyoming, get them to each bring a friend, and you’ve won all of the state’s votes for the Dem convention. That’s not a mistake anyone will ever make again.

    On another level, whatever Bernie could do, it would require him to possess a much higher level of purely political performance than he has shown to date. So far he has been simply preaching to the choir. Proof is that the natural constituency for his message, the mad as hell dispossessed working class with three kids, two jobs, and a broken down pickup, prefer Trump by far.

    But one thing Bernie has proven. As goes Ann Arbor, so goes West Stockbridge.

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    Don Frazier

    October 15, 2015 at 8:59 pm

  2. Unlike Obama, however, Super Tuesday on March 1 works against Bernie.

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    Rory McVeigh

    October 16, 2015 at 1:05 pm


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