Wednesday, May 04, 2016

How the second-place behaved: Clinton 2008 v. Sanders 2016

Clintonistas like Prof. Krugman are complaining that Sanders is behaving badly by not conceding to Clinton right now.  But looking at the record, at least, as captured in the New York Times archives, Clinton in 2008 behaved pretty much the same way as Sanders is in 2016.   Of course, the situations are somewhat different then and now; it would be a miracle if history repeated itself exactly; but Clinton pretty much followed the Sanders game plan of 2016 until she was mathematically eliminated from the nomination in 2008; and Sanders is not yet mathematically eliminated.

All links but one are to the NYT archives.

Here goes:

Raising the electability-in-the-general election issue

May 2, 2008: Clinton more electable than Obama

Seven former Democratic National Committee chairs released a letter on Clinton's behalf:
In fact, if the election were held today, Hillary would beat Senator McCain, but Senator Obama would lose to the presumptive GOP nominee. According to the most recent polls available, Hillary would beat McCain by a margin of 279 to 259 Electoral Votes. But McCain would beat Obama by a margin of 291 to 247 Electoral Votes. 

In a hypothetical general election matchup with McCain, Clinton is winning handily (50%-41%) while Obama is statistically tied with McCain (46%-44%), according to the AP-Ipsos poll released Monday.
May 19, 2008: Clinton repeats the argument about electability.

 “The states that I’ve won total 300 electoral votes,” she told about 300 people in a high school gymnasium in Maysville, the birthplace of the actor George Clooney. “The question is who can win 270 electoral votes? My opponent has won states totaling 217 electoral votes.”
Winning the more relevant states 

 May 19, 2008: The states Clinton won are more relevant than the states Obama won.

As she has in the past, she discounted Mr. Obama’s victories in caucus states and states likely to vote Republican in November, ticking off Alaska, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas and Idaho. “Many of his votes and delegates come from caucus state which have a relatively low turnout,” she said.
Contesting the super delegates

June 1, 2008: The super delegates might switch sides and support the so-far-runner-up.

Remember that Florida and Michigan broke the Democratic Party rules and held their primaries out of sequence.  As a result, their delegates were initially disallowed; and eventually allowed but with half the votes.  Moreover, Obama and other candidates had withdrawn from the Michigan primary, Obama was awarded delegates proportional to the non-Hillary vote.
"Mrs. Clinton had hoped that the rules committee would uphold the elections in Florida and Michigan so as to confer legitimacy on their popular vote; if they were added to her national tally, she would lead Mr. Obama in the popular vote. Mrs. Clinton hoped that would stir the passions of the party’s superdelegates, who would then swing to her side and choose her as the party’s nominee."

Complaints about the Democratic primary rules

May 19, 2008: If Democrats followed Republican rules, Clinton would be the nominee.

"She also dismissed Democratic nominating rules requiring proportional allocation of delegates from primaries and caucuses, rather than the winner-take-all system used by the Republicans.

“If we had same rules as the Republicans, I would be the nominee right now,” she said. "
May 22, 2008: The primaries should be decided by the popular vote.
"Her swing across South Florida on Wednesday seemed essentially to be a campaign-within-a-campaign, one that is about process and is directed chiefly at the party’s rules committee.

“I’ve heard some say that counting Florida and Michigan would be changing the rules,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I say that not counting Florida and Michigan is changing a central governing rule of this country.”

She also sought to whip up populist sentiment, telling voters in Boca Raton, where the 2000 election played out vividly, “You didn’t break a single rule, and you should not be punished for matters beyond your control.”

She argued with fervor that the nomination should be determined by popular vote.
She has claimed to have the lead in the popular vote by including Florida and Michigan in her tally."

Threatening to go all the way to the Convention
(CBS News, not NYT archive link):
May 14, 2008: Taking it to Denver!
Less than an hour after news broke that John Edwards would endorse Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe walked out of Senator Clinton's Washington home and stood before the rash of press spread out on her cul de sac.  

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"We have six million eligible Democrats left to vote," McAuliffe said. "They're going to determine who the nominee of the Democratic Party is. And it's not someone on television telling them what to do. People like it that Hillary Clinton is fighting for them."

"These folks are not quitting on Hillary Clinton, and she is not quitting on them. We are in this thing 'til the end. We are in it. We are taking it to Denver, and we're taking it to the White House. Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States of America."
May 22, 2008: Headline: Clinton Signals She May Carry Fight to Convention

Fighting on till the last possible moment 

June 1, 2008: Continuing the contest
"To jeers and boos that showcased deep party divisions, Democratic Party officials agreed Saturday to seat delegates from the disputed Florida and Michigan primaries at the party’s convention in August but give them only half a vote each, dealing a setback to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton."

"The deal prompted one of her chief advisers, Harold Ickes, a member of the rules committee himself, to declare that Mrs. Clinton’s fight may not be over, even though Mr. Obama’s advisers say he is only days away from gaining enough delegates to claim the nomination.

“Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee,” Mr. Ickes said before the final vote, raising the specter of a fight until that committee meets. " 
June 4, 2008: Not conceding
And while Mrs. Clinton reminisced about her campaign and talked of a need to unite the party, she did not concede, and indeed did not acknowledge that her rival, Senator Barack Obama, had passed the threshold of delegates needed to secure the nomination.

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Of course, eventually Clinton yielded to Obama gracefully.  I think Clinton supporters should not complain about Sanders unless and until he deviates from the pattern she followed in 2008.

PS:
June 8, 2008 

 {After the North Carolina Primary on May 6, 2008}  Deep in debt and no longer harboring even illusions of winning the nomination, Mrs. Clinton stopped attacks on Mr. Obama to avoid alienating him or the party.
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By last week, though, anger had given way to resignation. Even before the final primaries on Tuesday, aides said Mrs. Clinton knew she could not continue. But she told them she would not concede that evening in the college gymnasium where she was to give her speech celebrating victory in South Dakota {June 3, 2008. Per Wiki, Obama had won enough delegates for the nomination on that day.} She and her supporters, she told aides, had earned the right to their own day, and she planned to take two weeks to think through her options.

The next day, though, Democratic supporters in Congress pressed her on a conference call to give up quickly. She gave in, hung up and asked top advisers to prepare a plan to withdraw. They met with her at campaign headquarters, where every member of her inner circle recommended she pull out and endorse Mr. Obama without preconditions or negotiations — every member except Mr. Penn, who said she should hold out for concessions.

But Mrs. Clinton was, at last, ready to call it quits and switch focus to the general election, two aides recalled. “Let’s get on with it,” she said.

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