To win, Bernie needs Wyoming, and desperately

“We could lose Wisconsin,” read the email from Hillary for America, mass-dispersed the night before the primary. Well, you did, Hillary. And not because I didn’t chip in $1.

I was admittedly surprised by the shock of Clinton supporters when Sen. Bernie Sanders took Wisconsin. Going into the primary, I can’t say I harbored much optimism — anyone who took a close look at the state could have predicted it. As CNN Politics so succinctly put it, “Wisconsin was the kind of state … that Sanders had to win.”

Here’s the deal on the buzzing Sanders victory: Wisconsin is a state with the demographic makeup of Sanders’ dreams. It incorporates an open primary with a swarm of independents, it’s predominantly white and its second-and-third-largest age groups fall into Sanders’ classically faithful 18-to-35-year-old target demographic. Marking the sixth victory in seven consecutive races, it appears that Sanders is successfully maintaining his fierce momentum. But April 19 is approaching, and New York looks poised and ready to deposit hundreds of delegates into Clinton’s camp. Couple that with the rest of the Clinton-leaning East Coast, and Sanders needs to fight hard to keep his winning streak. Otherwise, if he lets it go before the 19th, the chances of a recovery are doubtful. The objective right now is simple: Sanders needs to expand his appeal to Clinton’s target demographic to win Wyoming. If he loses, he forfeits his momentum just when he needs it — and the game is over.

An open primary — as opposed to a closed one — is a primary in which those without an official party affiliation can still participate. The decision to hold an open or closed primary lies with the state. Wisconsin has previously been considered a swing state for its large population of independent voters, and Sanders happily claimed that demographic for himself, winning independents by a whopping 71-29 percent margin.

We could speculate about why this happened. Loyal Democrats might prefer a longtime member of the party; Sanders has historically been independent despite clearly liberal leanings and independents might shy away from traditional party politics in favor of a non-establishment outsider. Regardless, the independent vote skyrocketed Sanders to a fighting chance.

As previously stated, the second-and-third-largest voter-eligible age groups in the state of Wisconsin fall into Sanders’ loyal youngster division, and this time, Sanders won young people by an even higher margin than usual. He comfortably secured the youth demographic with a 60-point margin, 20 points higher than his average margin with young voters, which clocks in at 40. Sanders’ momentum in the previous election is clearly a contributing factor; historically speaking, the turnout of a millennial crowd can be heavily influenced by the energy of a campaign.

Most importantly, Wisconsin is a state that is heavily white. This is significant particularly because Clinton is highly popular among people of color, who were, for the most part, not represented in this primary.

So kudos to Sanders for his victory — although, to be frank, it should have been a lot more comfortable than it was. Given all of the above Bern-inducing factors, Sanders still only topped Clinton by a 13-point margin — and his delegate allotment exceeds hers by only 10, small in the face of her 250-odd lead (in pledged delegates alone; not to mention the 469 super delegates in her camp, compared to Sanders’ 31).

New York is a state with a large block of loyal, registered Democrats, and one that has already elected Clinton as its senator — not to mention voted for her in her last primary in 2008. Clinton clearly knows how to win New York. Another important note: New York is a closed primary, which means that unregistered young voters and independents — Sanders’ loyal supporters —  will not be able to vote unless they formally register with the Democratic party. Couple that with an older population of politically educated, loyal Democrats plus the presence of a powerful and dominant finance industry and it seems highly unlikely that the SUNY kids and a few hopeful Democrats can put 283 delegates in Sanders’ lap.

In order to have a hope of taking New York — or putting a dent in that delegate count — Sanders needs to maintain the momentum he has accrued through his recent victories. Therefore, he needs to take Wyoming on Saturday. Failing to do so might be a fatal mistake. In order to do so, Sanders needs to take to the offensive: Rather than relying on a few bases, he needs to start appealing to those groups that would traditionally vote for Clinton — the affluent white base and the African-American base. In order to keep his foot in the door, he needs to fight — hard.

Lily Vaughan is a freshman majoring in history and political science. Her column, “Playing Politics,” runs  Fridays.

1 reply
  1. Teddy Edwards
    Teddy Edwards says:

    Hi, Lily Vaughan. Thank you for your pro-Bernie perspective. I can tell you come from a place of idealism. And it is from that place that Bernie gets all of his supporters.

    So bear with me here. I would like you to know something I’ve learned from my days as an idealistic liberal Democrat at USC. And the lessons I have since learned that changed my mind. And I’ll address just one issue so I do not risk boring you. I think you will agree with what I say since I intend only to use logic and some facts we can agree on.

    One of the most important differences between Democrats and Republicans is how each regards the role and the size of the government.

    Democrats (usually liberals) believe that the State should be the most powerful force in society. Among many other things, the Government should be in control of educating every child, should provide all health care, and should regulate – often to the minutest detail – how businesses conduct their business. In Germany, for instance, the Government legislates the time of day stores have to close. In short, Democrats believe there should be no power that competes with government.. Not parents, not businesses, not private schools, not religious institutions, not even the individual human conscience.

    Republicans (usually conservatives), on the other hand, believe that government’s role in society should be limited to absolute necessities. Such as national defense, and being the resource of last resort: to help citizens who cannot be helped by family, by community, or by religious and secular charities.

    Lily Vaughan, Republicans understand that as Government grows in size and power, the following will inevitably happen:

    1. There will be ever-increasing amounts of corruption. Power and money breed corruption. People in government will sell government influence for personal and political gain, and people outside of government will seek to buy influence and favors. In Africa and Latin America, government corruption has been the single biggest factor in holding nations back from progressing.

    2. Individual liberty will decline. With few exceptions, such as an unrestricted right to abortion, individual liberty is less important to Democrats than to Republicans. This is neither an opinion nor a criticism. It is simple logic: The more control government has over people’s lives, the less liberty people have.

    3. Countries with ever-expanding governments will either reduce the size of their government, or eventually collapse economically. Every welfare state ultimately becomes a Ponzi scheme, relying on new payers to pay previous payers, And when it runs out of new payers, the scheme collapses. All of the welfare states of the world – including the wealthy European countries – are already experiencing this problem, to varying degrees.

    4. In order to pay for an ever-expanding government, taxes are constantly increased. But at a given level of taxation, the society’s wealth producers will either stop working, work less, hire fewer people, or move their business out of the state or out of the country.

    5. Big government produces big deficits and ever increasing and ultimately unsustainable debt. This too is only logical.. The more money the State hands out. The more money people will demand from the state. No recipient of free money has ever said, “Thank you, I have enough.” Unless big governments get smaller, they will all eventually collapse under own weight. With terrible consequences, socially as well as economically.

    6. The bigger the government , the greater the opportunities for doing great evil. The 20th century was the most murderous century in recorded history. And who did all this killing? Big governments. Evil individuals without power can only do so much harm. But when evil individuals take control of big government, the amount of harm they can do is essentially unlimited. Republicans fear Big government. Democrats fear Big Business.

    But Coca-Cola cannot break into your house or confiscate your wealth. Only Big Government can do that. As irresponsible as any business has ever been, it is only Big Government that can build concentration camps and commit genocide.

    7. Big Government eats away at the moral character of a nation. People no longer take care of other people. After all, they know the government will do that. That’s why Americans give far more of their money and volunteer far more of their time to charity than do Europeans at the same economic level.

    Without the belief in an ever-expanding government, there is no Democratic Party. Without a belief in limited government, there is no Republican Party and there is no prosperity and individual liberty. There’s less of everything really.

    Thanks for listening, Ms. Vaughan.

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