In which I STILL don’t know anything

I got asked in comments earlier if I thought Bernie Sanders should drop out yet. The interesting thing is I was already thinking about writing this post when the question came through, and as I’ve thought about it a bit more I’ve decided that the answer is that I think Bernie should drop out, but there is an as-yet somewhat reasonable case to be made that Bernie should not yet decide that he should drop out.

Allow me to explain.

Biden is ahead in the delegate count by 154 delegates, with another 94 pledged to candidates who have endorsed him. Democratic rules mandating proportional allocation of delegates make coming from behind more difficult than it is in the Republican primary, because you can eke out close wins in three states and then have those gains wiped out by losing badly in another state. You might remember a lot of talk about Bernie’s surprise win in Michigan in 2016, which was interesting in a “here is how polls can be wrong sometimes” sort of way but ultimately irrelevant because Hillary blew Bernie out of the water in Mississippi on the same day and her gains from Mississippi were a lot bigger than his in Michigan. He ended the day farther behind than he had when he started.

I’m not going to crunch numbers right now on what states are left and what might go for Bernie and what might go for Biden, except to note that the polls for this Tuesday’s contests look very, very bad:

What I have crunched the numbers on– I did it just now, as a matter of fact, because I was curious and I am exactly that kind of nerd– is that Bernie has gotten a lower percentage of the vote in literally every single contest than he did in 2016. Every single one. The average drop is just a hair over nineteen points, with a median just over 16, and there are five states where his vote total was less than half of what he got in 2016:

This is the clearest evidence that we’re going to get, I think: Sanders’ support has cratered since 2016, and there is no evidence at all that this will get any better. None. And he lost badly in 2016 once all the shouting was over. This will be worse. Stick a fork in him, he’s done. Time to quit. He has literally persuaded no one who he didn’t already have to come over to his campaign.

But.

You may have heard of this Rona shit we got going around, I dunno. They’re starting to talk about it on the news a lot.

Who are Biden’s people, broadly speaking? Voters of color and older voters. Who are Bernie’s people, again broadly speaking? White folk, especially younger ones.

One group is more likely to have fewer polling places, meaning longer lines and longer waits (how long did that one dude in Texas wait on Super Tuesday? Seven hours?) and one group is also a lot more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, meaning that they really ought to be spending as little time in possible doing things like waiting for hours in lines around shittons of other people.

One group is more likely to consider themselves basically invincible and not be as concerned about waiting in those same long lines, and that group is also (again, broadly speaking; college students have been screwed in this respect in some places) going to have easier access to a quick ballot casting than the other.

It is, in other words, entirely possible that the coronavirus is going to work out in Bernie’s favor. Will it be enough to make a difference, given the fairly large margins currently showing in the polling? I have not the slightest idea. Especially since, again, he needs blowouts right now, and shaving a 44-point ass-beating in Florida down to 20 or even a narrow victory is not really going to do him a whole lot of good. But it might provide a slim thread of hope to hang onto, and a reason to stay in the election.

Do I want him to do that? No; in fact, I think the more responsible thing to do would be to drop out precisely to drive down the number of people who want to go out and vote, because I don’t think he can win at this point. Which seems odd to say, but it’s true. And I should make something clear: I’m not mad at Bernie about this, and I don’t think he’s off in Vermont cackling and gleefully rubbing his hands together at the idea that Biden’s supporters might be proportionally less likely to vote because of a global pandemic than his are or anything like that. But I think it’s a real difference between the two populations.

Again: do I think it’ll make a difference?

No fucking idea. Like I said, I don’t know anything about politics.

In which everybody calm down

Okay, one thing is worth throwing a party over: Mike Bloomberg’s ass is out of the race, which is an unalloyed good thing that we should all be celebrating. But it’s been fascinating to me to watch the exact same people who thought Biden was over and done with after Nevada pivot on a Goddamn dime to declare him the invincible frontrunner after last night. Now, don’t misunderstand: last night was great for Biden, and bad for Sanders. But it’s far from a knockout blow, especially since we don’t know yet what the numbers from California are going to look like and Sanders is going to win California. By how much, and how much of a delegate lead that gets him from the state, we won’t know for a bit. But I suspect Biden’s already-slim lead of less than fifty delegates is going to get cut into a bit, and 45 delegates is not a great cushion, all told.

Warren– and it both pains me and makes me deeply angry to say this– is probably out. She’ll take her time and make the decision on her own, but I don’t think there’s much of a path left for her if she’s not even able to win her own home state. It’s fucked up that America is ignoring this good of a candidate, but I felt the same way about Harris. It’s a primary; I’m used to being disappointed.

The worst news for Bernie, to my mind, is that in all fifteen contests held yesterday he didn’t hit his 2016 level of support in any of them, including his home state of Vermont, and in several of them his support was down by half or more. He lost two states, Oklahoma and Minnesota, that he won in 2016. For someone whose entire rationale for being elected is that he will Motivate The Masses To Take To The Streets … well, not so much, apparently? Bernie lost in 2016 and was getting a lot more votes. I haven’t taken a close look at what states are left, but there was a pretty ironclad rule in 2016 that any state that was less than 85% white was going to go to Clinton. Now, that rule is being broken pretty handily by California right now, and his Hispanic support seems to be up from 2016, so it might not hold as well, but he only won four states yesterday. That’s … not great. But there’s a lot of primary left, and there’s no reason to count anyone out yet. Once California’s delegates come in the count is going to be very close. I don’t see anyone outside of Biden or Bernie having a chance, but those two are effectively tied at the moment.


It is at this point where I remind you that I don’t know shit about politics.

There are lots of people yammering about something called electability, and all of them, including me, are wrong. Electability is not a thing. I took a very close look at the Republican field in both 2012 and 2016 and came to the conclusion that it was rationally impossible for any of them to get the nomination, both times, and somehow both times the Republicans managed to nominate someone anyway.

Either of these people are “electable” if we vote for them. So, as it turns out, is Warren. Bernie and Biden have both been clobbering the Current Occupant by wide margins in head-to-head polls for months, if not for years in Sanders’ case, and I need to remind myself of that every time I look at either of them and my brain tries to tell me that there’s no way that guy gets elected President. I still think Sanders’ path to the White House is the more difficult one, if only because the Democrats have been unwilling to paint him as the baby-eating tax-crazed Communist that the Republicans will, and we all know he doesn’t react to criticism very well, but they’re going to call Biden a socialist too; saying insane bullshit about how insanely leftist our candidates are is kind of their thing regardless of its actual relationship to reality. There aren’t going to be any debates so any talk about who will do better against the shitgibbon in one is pointless. We need to quit worrying about this “electability” nonsense and show up to vote. Everything else will take care of itself.

In which I know nothing and neither do you

The one thing I’m fairly certain about tomorrow is that I’m going to go to bed not knowing much, and I suspect a fair amount of what I will know is going to be disappointing. I haven’t seen much polling, and any that I might have seen is probably fairly well invalidated by Buttigieg and Klobuchar dropping out and endorsing Biden in the last 24 hours. I was kind of hoping that Biden would announce Kamala Harris as his running mate this weekend; the rumors were flying around (and this would be one thing that would definitely cause me to move toward a full-throated endorsement of him) but nothing has come of it as of yet. I still intend to vote for Warren if it’s still possible when Indiana votes in fucking May, but I suspect by tomorrow the math for her gaining the nomination without convention shenanigans is going to be … ugly. I’d love to be wrong, but I don’t think I live in that country. And, honestly, I’d prefer to avoid convention shenanigans one way or another, even if it leads to someone I don’t really want getting the nomination on the first ballot. Hopefully somebody ends up locking up a majority. We’ll have a better idea of who that might be come Wednesday; if any candidate emerges from Super Tuesday with a sizable delegate lead, the Democratic proportional-allocation rules mean that a lead is going to be very difficult to eradicate.


Random, small anecdote, preserved here because sometimes I use my blog as an external memory card: 8th grade boys are not exactly well-known for being accepting when it comes to homosexuality, right? My current building is far ahead of the curve on that particular front for some reason but the f-word is still a go-to insult far more often than I want it to be and regardless of my personal attempts to stamp out its use at least when they’re around me. So I was fascinated last week to watch five or six of my boys during advisory period the other day, all clustered in a corner around one of them and working carefully at … brushing his hair. Like, trading off the brush and everything. I don’t get these kids sometimes; I work really hard at wiping out my own prejudices and internalized homophobia and I gotta admit I’d feel funny just randomly brushing some male friend’s hair. And here there are five or six of them just making a huge production of it, when ordinarily accidentally brushing up against each other is enough to get “You gay!” tossed around.

(No, I don’t think male barbers or hairstylists are gay. But I’m not a barber, and neither are any of these kids. The word “randomly” is kind of important in that sentence.)

A brief political update

…several days after writing this, and having spent some time reading on and thinking about Michael Bloomberg as a candidate for the presidency, I feel compelled to inform you that he is now indisputably my last-choice candidate, and the only circumstances under which I will vote for him is if he somehow gains the nomination and I have no other choice. I actually feel like I did Sanders a disservice by ranking the two of them together.

Furthermore, I will cheerfully endorse any number of convention-based delegate shenanigans to deny him said nomination if necessary, regardless of which other candidate said shenanigans hands the nomination to.


One other thought, actually, and this is coming late enough that I’ve already hit “publish” on this post– I have officially given up on the idea that I Know Anything about politics, which is why you haven’t really seen me attempting to make any broad predictions about how either the primary or the overall race may be going beyond my insistence that you cannot declare the primary over before Black and Hispanic voters have had a chance to weigh in– and tomorrow will give us a fair amount of useful information on that account. The polls have been an enormous Goddamned mess throughout the primary, and given that I am utterly unable to understand why anyone would willfully and intentionally vote for the shitgibbon beyond the purest and most undistilled love for white supremacy, I’m not going to be any damn good at, say, predicting which Democratic candidate might be more electable than any other.

I strongly suspect that electable is code for “old white dude with good hair” anyway, if we’re being honest.

In which I try to rank Elizabeth Warren and a bunch of people I don’t want to vote for

The last time I did this was– Jesusalmost a God damn year ago, and since then not only has Kamala Harris dropped out, but so has everyone else I wanted to vote for except for Buttigieg, who has spent most of the last eleven months making me dislike him. I have gone from a Democratic presidential primary where I went through eight people before even entering “meh” territory to one person I want to vote for– Warren– a bunch of people who I despise, and Amy Klobuchar, who I wouldn’t have even considered a serious candidate any longer until New Hampshire, and frankly I probably shouldn’t start treating her for-real seriously until she does better in more than one state.

What I have been saying for the last several months remains true: this race is still Biden’s to lose, despite his poor performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, because unless the poll results have shifted radically in the last couple of weeks he’s still the only candidate with a serious base of support in the black community, who are still the base of the Democratic party and who haven’t had a chance to vote yet because of how fucking stupid our nomination process is. I have heard tell that those numbers are starting to shift, though, and if they are, Biden’s fucked, which is kind of fine because I think he’s slowly losing his shit and I don’t really want to vote for him.

But … God, I don’t want to vote for any of these fuckers other than Warren, and every time I try to think seriously about ranking them, I spend most of my time pondering the inevitability of death instead. I mean, to be clear: I’m voting for the fucking Democratic nominee in November, full stop; I don’t give a fuck who it is. But I really don’t like any of them beyond Warren, and I remember enjoying being able to vote for candidates who I wanted to hold office, damn it.

So.

2. … Klobuchar, I guess? Who is an asshole, and a moderate, and she’s shitty to her staff, but that’s all I’ve got and she hasn’t managed to personally piss me off yet? Plus, she’s a woman and she doesn’t have one foot in the grave or any obvious decline in her mental facilities? So, yeah, sure, Klobuchar’s second, I suppose, mostly because someone has to be.

3. Buttigieg. I have voted for Pete Buttigieg literally every single time he has run for office, and I don’t want to ever vote for him again. Yes, in March I was somewhat enthusiastic about his candidacy. And he’s spent damn near every second since then trying to drive me away with his Jesusiness and his Kumbaya approach to “working with” people who would literally rather see him dead than in office. But much like Klobuchar he has the advantages of not being senile or nearly dead, and I’m not convinced he’d be a shitty President, and he’s smart, if perhaps not as smart as he thinks he is, and if he made a sensible pick for VP he might not be a disaster as a President, although of the current group I think he’s the one most likely to run for a second term and lose.

4. Fuck it, Biden. Who is running an absolute shit campaign, and who is perhaps not as senile as I thought he might have been a bit ago (I was unaware until recently that he has battled a stutter his whole life, and that explains a couple of things) but is still noticeably not as sharp as he was a decade ago, and has run for President three times now and so far still has not ever managed to finish higher than third in a primary. And he clearly doesn’t understand the nature of the opposition he’s facing, either, because he’s competing with Pete for the Kumbaya naïveté awards. But at least he’s not either of those other two assholes, and of the group of three he’s the one most likely to have some fucking sense and not run for a second term in the first place. Leaving me with …

Bernie and Bloomberg, and fuck both of ’em, I’m not ranking them. I loathe Bernie Sanders. I like his policies but Warren’s are every bit as good as his and she’s not a garbage human and she’s actually got some accomplishments in her life, unlike Mr. Myocardial Infarction Where The Fuck Are Your Taxes, whose life’s work boils down to not having a job until he was 40, naming a couple of post offices, and exactly three black-and-white photos of him being a massive civil rights hero on par with Malcolm X, Jesus and Martin Luther King combined. He will be a desperately shitty President and nothing will be accomplished during his single term in office, if he even lasts that long without dying, because who the hell knows what kind of condition his God damn heart is in; his campaign has lied about it endlessly and he’s refused to release his medical records. Which is not fucking forgivable even before you get to the part where he’s basically a cult leader and I cannot tolerate the idea of an America where the Bernie Bros have political power.

(Am I calling every Bernie voter a cultist? No. I am explicitly not doing that, and if you are a Bernie person and I know you I am also explicitly not calling you personally that. But I stand by the statement nonetheless, particularly in the context of the vile hordes of his people I have to deal with online.)

Bloomberg, on the other hand, is a racist piece of shit and a blood-gorged tick on the nuts of humanity, and he’s carefully and clearly exposing every single thing wrong with what we are still calling our “democracy” for some reason. I have no idea why anyone would ever choose to vote for him, and the fact that he’s registering in the polls at all is a sign of how dangerously and completely fucked we are. If somehow the race is down to these two by the time the Indiana primary rolls around I’m probably just not going to vote. Again, I’ll vote for the nominee even if I hate him, which is looking more likely by the day, but I’ll be damned if I endorse either of these fuckers twice if I don’t absolutely have to.

(EDIT: When and if Bloomberg turns out to be a serial sexual harasser and/or a rapist, which I’m figuring even odds on, he immediately falls off the list altogether. That would be one thing that would definitively shove him under Sanders for me.)