By Robert A. Vella
Opinion polls leading up to the key presidential primary election in Michigan showed establishment candidate Hillary Clinton 20-25 points ahead of her progressive challenger Bernie Sanders. The polls were wrong. Sanders defeated Clinton last night by 2 percent in that Democratic Party contest sending yet another shock wave through the heart of America’s entrenched socioeconomic establishment. Analysis of the upset helps to explain why Sanders appears to be the Democrats’ best candidate, over Clinton, to run against Republicans in November.
From Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America’s Future – March Madness: Sanders Takes Michigan in Huge Upset:
After all the weeks of commentary about Bernie Sanders’ problem with black voters, the spotlight after Michigan will turn to Hillary Clinton’s problem with white male voters, young voters and independents.
Clinton won African-American voters again, but by much lower margins than she enjoyed in the South, with Sanders faring well among younger African-Americans. Sanders won the young vote once more by commanding margin – 81 percent to 18 percent for voters under 29, won independents 71 percent to 28 percent and won white voters 57 percent to 41 percent (white men by virtually two to one). The gender gap was less in evidence. Sanders won unmarried women and men, married men while losing married women.
Sanders gained with a message focused on trade, Wall Street, the rigged economy and our corrupted politics. Three-fifths of the voters thought our trade policies took away jobs; Sanders won those by 58 percent to 41 percent.
Clinton may well have paid a price for her cynical attack on Sanders in the Sunday Michigan debate, when she distorted his vote on the auto bailout. (Sanders supported the bailout, but voted against Bush’s bank bailout even when some of the auto money was folded into it). The Clinton low blow angered UAW leaders and activists, and was challenged by a Sanders ad and in the press and social media. It reminded many of the cynical tactics that sour people on politics, and may well have reminded many of Clinton’s unconvincing campaign conversion from supporting corporate deals to opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership that was negotiated while she was Secretary of State. The punditry praised Clinton’s ploy. But at a time when voters are disgusted by political games and posturing, it added to their doubts about Clinton – and of course infuriated Sanders’ supporters.
Polls reflected the continuing contrasts between the candidates. Sanders beat Clinton among those most concerned about honesty and trustworthiness – by a stunning 80 percent to 19 percent, and among those who value those who care for people like them, 54 percent to 42 percent. Clinton won those most concerned with experience and electability.
Clinton won Mississippi, continuing her sweep of the red states of the South that Democrats don’t win in general elections. With the Michigan vote basically split, she ended the night extending her delegate lead.
From The New York Times – Trade and Jobs Key to Victory for Bernie Sanders:
For Mrs. Clinton, it was a stinging defeat in a state that she had made a symbol of her campaign, pledging to help the citizens of Flint overcome its contaminated water crisis in a rare display of passion and outrage from a candidate who is often reserved. The results were also a reminder of her weakness among two key voting blocs: working-class white men and independent voters.
The setback will almost certainly lead her to sharpen or even rethink her economic message, which does not seem to be reaching voters who feel betrayed by the Democratic Party’s embrace of free trade and left behind by the forces of globalization and deregulation. The first big test will come Wednesday night, when the two candidates debate in Miami, and then in the major industrial states that vote on March 15, including Ohio and Illinois.
On the Republican side, the GOP establishment’s preferred candidates Marco Rubio and John Kasich have fallen into irrelevancy. The continuance of their respective campaigns now has only one purpose, to strip away as many votes from Donald Trump as possible so that his nomination can be contested at a brokered convention. That leaves the ultra-conservative, right-wing ideologue
Joe McCarthy Ted Cruz as the GOP’s last hope of defeating the irascible, nationalist firebrand Trump before the convention.
From Politico – GOP establishment creeps toward Cruz:
Republican elites are begrudgingly embracing Ted Cruz—and hanging Marco Rubio out to dry.
Panicked at Donald Trump’s dominance and dismayed by Rubio’s continued inability to do anything about it, some top Republican power brokers are turning to Cruz, putting aside their policy and personal misgivings to back the candidate they now openly label as their best hope to stop Trump’s GOP takeover.
“He seems to be the only guy who’s got some momentum, and is probably the best situated if there is anybody out there to beat Trump,” said Austin Barbour, a prominent Mississippi-based GOP operative. “That’s why there are many people like me—Ted Cruz wouldn’t have been our first choice, but as we go through the process, we’re reevaluating our vote, and he seems to be the guy at the top of the list.”
“Most people now think Ted’s the best vehicle to defeat Trump,” said Charles C. Foster, a Bush family loyalist from Houston who served on Jeb Bush’s national finance team. “I would say some are enthusiastic for Ted, some are just saying, ‘OK, Ted’s not my first choice, but anyone that can beat Trump, I’ll support.’”
“That’s a big motivating factor,” he continued. “I think Ted is the only possibility to stop Trump.”
While Trump appeals to the reactionary, xenophobic, economic populist base of the Republican Party, Cruz appeals to its religious, social conservatives whom are more comfortable with the economic status quo. This rift between two major factions within the Republican Party has been widening in recent years, and it is now culminating in the political ascendancy of Mr. Trump.
A similar rift has been growing inside the Democratic Party for an even longer period of time. Although the dynamics are quite different than that for Republicans, its internal party division is also centered on an establishment-versus-populist dichotomy. And, the scope of this dichotomy extends far beyond the normal limits of politics – straight into supposedly independent realms like the mainstream news media. See: In 16 hours, the Washington Post published 16 articles slamming Bernie Sanders—kinda remarkable