Bernie Sanders Shouldn’t Drop Out

Bernie Sanders Shouldn't Drop OutAlthough I’ve long been as certain as I am about anything that Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, I have never wanted Bernie Sanders to drop out. Part of this is just an intuition that I’ve had that these hard-fought battles really don’t hurt candidates in the general election. So I was pleased to see some backup on this from political scientist Julia Azari over at FiveThirtyEight, Sanders Shouldn’t Drop Out For Clinton’s Sake. The take away from the article is that it doesn’t look like hard-fought primary fights affect the general election.

But this, I think, is key, “You could cherry-pick studies to argue that contentious primary races hurt a nominee, but even those effects are small.” So this idea that Sanders ought to drop out of the race for the good of the Democrats’ general election chances don’t really hold up. I don’t blame Clinton supporters for calling for him to step down. (To her credit, Clinton has not called for him to drop out, as far as I know.) This is always what supporters who are winning say. But the idea that Sanders is doing something wrong is sub-mental (ie, tribal). And I think we really should allow this process to continue, even though I don’t personally like the conflict.

“You could cherry-pick studies to argue that contentious primary races hurt a nominee, but even those effects are small.” —Julia Azari

On the other hand, if Sanders really does want to litigate this at the DNC, I might change my mind — especially given that he is likely to lose California by a good deal. But I don’t really think that’s what’s going on. I think Sanders is just positioning himself to get as much out of this campaign as possible. And as one who thinks that the Democratic Party has moved much too far to the right (and thus deserves a good deal of blame for the Republicans moving into crazy-land), I want to see some changes. And the fact of the matter is that there are only about five percentage points separating Clinton and Sanders. And I don’t think that’s nearly a fair assessment of the Democratic Party base, because Clinton has a long history and a lot of good will among the base.

What was most interesting in Azari’s article was here discussion of a recent study that found that hard-fought primary battles don’t divide parties, but rather the other way around. Hard-fought primary battles are the result of divided parties. And I think that’s clearly the case in the Democratic Party. The party has moved steadily rightward and it is due for a correction. (And I’ve written before about how the right turn of the party was not necessary, so I won’t go into that.)

But there are some practical issues here. Clinton didn’t drop out this early in 2008. She stayed in the race until after the final primary. And I mean no disrespect, but we should remember that Sanders has done better as time has gone on, and the opposite was happening to Clinton in 2008. So if she didn’t drop out then, why should Sanders drop out now?

What I most dislike about this idea is that I think it does represent a kind of aristocratic impulse in people. Ultimately, people do want a coronation — if they think they happen to be winning. And this is something that really bothers me about us as a species. I think that liberals are a good deal more rational than conservatives in the modern political context. Yet we are all motivated by these primitive instincts. It’s sad.

But it is way too early for Sanders to drop out.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

13 thoughts on “Bernie Sanders Shouldn’t Drop Out

  1. I agree that Sanders should stay in until after the last primary, but if he’s significantly down in pledged delegates, he should quietly wind down his campaign and transition to supporting Clinton in the general. The idea of trying to get the supers to support him is ridiculous, and we all know that if the roles were reversed then Sanders’s supporters would be outraged.

    The biggest evidence for divided primaries hurting general chances are 1976 and 1980, but those were when there was an unpopular incumbent president. It seems that the divided primary this year is because we have two good choices rather than two bad ones, and Hillary’s supporters are much more enthusiastic than people believe.

    • Yes, I don’t want to see some fight over super-delegates. For one thing, Sanders is in the worst possible position to do that given that he has not been an actual member of the party. But the biggest thing is what you mention: if things were reversed, I’d be very displeased with Clinton. Since I try to be consistent, I will be very unhappy with Sanders if he does that. It would be a different matter if Sanders were polling at 50% and Clinton at 45%. In that case, the argument would be, “We started slow but now the party wants us.” But when the polls do not show that, fighting for super-delegates would make Sanders out to be anti-democratic.

  2. If Sanders being a pain at the convention is all about trying to push the official platform leftward, then go Bern go!

    • I hope it is all sorted out by the convention. After the final primary, and likely even before (even now), Sanders and Clinton should be negotiating the end of this. And Sanders hasn’t ruled out a VP spot, which I don’t want to see, but which would be good for the party in this election. But whatever happens, it should end in a big symbolic unity moment. This may have been a hard-fought battle, but the Democrats are going to be far more united than the Republicans.

  3. I was thinking about this and since I know multiple people going to convention as Sanders delegates…they are to a person very level headed and normal. So if he wants a floor fight where he demands more than just a simple straight vote, he will be pretty disappointed that his delegates won’t go off on their friends.

    It may surprise y’all here but I did actually donate to one of the Sanders delegates so he could make it to the convention. The delegate is a smeghead but he is my friend so…

    • Wait! That’s major insider kind of stuff. So delegates raise money so they can go to the convention?! That’s amazing. And cool!

      And I don’t think anyone will be surprised by that. You are clearly a dedicated team player for the party. But good for you!

      Remind me: where does “smeghead” come from? It sounds like Hitchhiker’s Guide, but I don’t know.

      • It doesn’t seem that way since he posted it on Facebook and was the first one to do it. But I suppose to an outsider?

        Smeghead comes from Red Dwarf, the British mocking of Sci fi shows.

        • So you are saying that just poor delegates have to do that? I think the DNC should pay for. The amount of money would not be that great and it would allow poorer people to be involved in the process.

          That’s right! I knew that! I did try, but I didn’t really get into the series.

          • I suppose-the Best Friend paid for his own trip in 2012 with the room being $300 a night and spent about 40% of his time complaining I wasn’t there to be his roommate since he was stuck with a guy who was not as clean as I am.

            It costs about $1500 for the room and flight for the AZ people based on what BF and figured when we were thinking of going to the 2016 convention as observers this year and while the DNC is doing its best to raise the money for the convention, they probably don’t have room for the delegates since it probably would be around 10 to 15 million to fly and board everyone.

            Of course according to this: http://www.cadem.org/our-party/national-convention/2016-Delegate-Travel-Cost.pdf we are totally off about that amount.

            • I’d tend to trust the CADEM estimate. But still, it’s chicken feed in the grand scheme of things. I think there is far too much emphasis placed on money in politics. The way money corrupts politics is by making politicians think they need a lot of it. Obviously, you do need money. But beyond a certain amount, it’s just wasted. The new billion dollar presidential campaign is nonsense.

              • I went to my district meeting and found out that the money the DNC has to raise is $80M directly and the city has to raise a similar amount.

                Thanks to the shenanigans, major donors are pulling out of both conventions and that means the DNC wouldn’t have been able to afford to pay for it as they are going to be barely able to pay for their portion of the convention.

  4. @Frank It is usually pretty expensive and in the case of Cleveland, they are having to plan for a lot of violence.

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