The Math Is Easy. So Why Is The Page Such A Mess?


Just a couple of quick observations on last night before we get to the main event. First, Elizabeth Warren is a captain without a ship, and I feel sorry for her. From day one she has been the happiest warrior out there. But she doesn’t seem to have a constituency. She won one precinct in Iowa, and I didn’t see her color on a single spot on the map last night in New Hampshire. She has a base core of around 10%, which isn’t bad, but no room to grow, since she isn’t filching any Bernie voters, and she’s too far left for the Buttigieg/Klobuchar crowd.

Amy Klobuchar gave the best speech of the night last night. This was the first truly national election night speech for any of the candidates, since the mockery that was Iowa gave nobody anything to say about the results. Klotuchar’s surprise 3rd place finish last night meant coverage, and she used it beautifully to introduce herself, possibly for the first time, to the voters of Nevada, South Carolina, and the Super Tuesday states, who are just starting to tune in as their own primaries approach.

If Tom Steyer still had his own company, he’d fire himself for incompetence. Steyer has spent more than $100 million on advertising alone, not counting on his ground organization, to garner a lousy 4% of the vote. Steyer would never have become a billionaire on that kind of return on investment. I haven’t seen such political malpractice since 2012, when Karl Rove took almost a billion bucks on congressional candidates, and got a pathetic 0.04% ROI.

Now, on to the main event of the evening. I have a message for Bernie Sanders. Your socialist revolution didn’t show up. Apparently they were all busy grooming their beards, adjusting the tilts of their berets, and hitting on college co-eds. After collecting 60% of the vote in 2016, Sanders putted an underwhelming 26% last night. Worse, Bernie did not dominate Mayor Pete in college towns the way he was counting on, and in more moderate districts, he didn’t finish second behind Buttigieg, he was finishing third behind Klobuchar as well.

This is bad news for Bernie, because his sole claim to electability was that he alone could ignite a socialist revolution that would bring out millions of new voters to reshape the very image of America. But voting in Iowa was static with 2016, and while New Hampshire voting was up over 2016, Bernie didn’t get an overwhelming lion’s share of the pie.

Sanders has a couple of math problems, and here’s one of them. In order to replicate the path that Trump took in 2016, Sanders needs to at least garner about 35% of the vote, while everybody else is in the teems to low 20’s, so he can bank most of the delegates and build a cushion. Except not. Because a majority of GOP primaries are winner take all states, and the Democrats apportion most of their delegate votes, Sanders needs to be closer to 40%, and he’s nowhere near that. These 26-24-20 final results do him no good.

There’s a reason why Sanders is nowhere near 35-40%, and that’s his other problem. Her name is Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth Warren clocked 9% of the votes last night in New Hampshire, and in the low teens in Iowa. If you add her 9% to Bernie’s 26%, you’re at 35%, which is much closer to the mark he needs, and would give him the lion’s share of the New Hampshire delegates. The same would have been true for Iowa.

But here’s where the math really goes south for Sanders’ hopes of a socialist revolution, and why everybody else can take a deep breath and relax. If you combine Sanders and Warren’s takes together, you get the aforementioned 35%, the far left progressive vote. But when you combine the results for Buttigieg and Klobuchar, you get 44%. And that doesn’t even count Biden’s 9%, which gets you to a majority 53% of the party. Everybody can relax, after all of that ballyhoo about Sanders and Warren and AOC pushing the party to the left, the majority of the party is still a moderate base.

Which puts us in a fascinating, and potentially dangerous stasis. As long as Warren stays in the race, she isn’t directly threatening Sanders, but she is siphoning off votes that Sanders needs to build a delegate lead over the moderate candidates. But even if Warren exits the race, that may not give Sanders the boost he needs. Because in Iowa, in precincts where Warren wasn’t viable, the majority of Warren voters crossed over to Buttigieg, not Sanders. It seems that Bernie is either too far left even for Warren voters, or he’s just too abrasive.

On the other side of the equation, if either Buttigieg or Klobuchar were to take one for the team and withdraw, the survivor would likely be netting anywhere from 42-52% of the vote, especially if Biden continues to bleed support. This would allow him or her to build the kind of delegate lead that would be harder and harder for Sanders to overcome, the longer that Warren stayed in the race. In fact, since Sanders ceiling appears to be no higher than 45%, he would likely never catch up. This would also likely mitigate the Bloomberg effect, since he needs a badly fractured field to be effective as an insurgent alternative.

And speaking of Bloomberg, even if the current situation goes into Super Tuesday and beyond, that still blunts Bloomberg’s sword. Because Bloomberg’s strategy is dependent on an ascendant Bernie Sanders to freak out the party while the moderates club each other to death in the low 20’s. If Sanders isn’t threatening to run away with the delegate count, then there’s no need for a hold-your-nose alternative like Bloomberg. Even if Bloomberg manages to get 20-25% of the vote, all that does is to put him into the same mosh pit with everybody else in Milwaukee. Which is what I will cover in my next article. Ta-ta for now.

To know the future, look to the past.before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of  President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange  are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen

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13 Comments on "The Math Is Easy. So Why Is The Page Such A Mess?"

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p j evans

Warren isn’t catching on with some people – but from what I’ve seen, a lot of the people voting for Bernie/Pete/Amy aren’t committed to voting for whoever gets the nomination – and the Joe/Liz voters *are*. (I wonder how many of the people voting for Bernie/Pete/Amy are GOP-T, trying to get a weak Dem nominee.)


Good question. As for Warren not having a constituency, that’s total bunk, or else the author hasn’t been reading Daily KOS enough lately. Sorry, Murph.

“It seems that Bernie is either too far left even for Warren voters, or he’s just too abrasive.” There is a third possibility, Murf: DEMOCRATIC PARTY voters are waking up to the fact that Bernie is NOT A DEMOCRAT. He’s a “Democrat-for-the-nomination-and-screw-the-party-the-rest-of-the-time.” And the biggest ploy he could pull in 2016–that the DNC was “rigging” the primary for Hillary–is one he CANNOT use this time, not when there are a half-dozen viable candidates still running in February. (If more *real* Democrats had opted to run against Hillary in 2016, Bernie wouldn’t have even been able to wield that cudgel.) And… Read more »
dana fairfield

Could it be that all of the candidates are more or less fine with the voters, and so the candidates are basically splitting each other’s votes in an atmosphere of no strong preferences?

Cherl Harrell

I agree, this is a definite possibility. The voters may be waiting for this thing to shake out and then get behind whomever it is, mainly to oust trump.

Denis Elliott
I think one of the ironies with Bernie is that he’s guilty of something he & many others accused Clinton of in 2016 – a belief of being “owed” the nomination. Whether that’s true of Clinton or not that’s how many, including me who supported her and worked to turn out voters for her (in 2016 – in 2008 I was an Obama supporter) thought she carried herself at times. People smarter than me have, and will continue to write post-mortems on how even with the Comey revelations and the Russian interference she should have won – if not by… Read more »
Denis Elliott
FYI, when it comes to Mayor Pete I think he’s maybe ten years and most of that time in higher elected office than has been the case so far to be getting the consideration he’s getting. If Trump just “behaves” only to the level of a SOTU speech while on the stage with him I fear Pete will come across as Oliver Twist asking “Please sir, can I have some more?” IOW, like Beto not ready for the Presidential version of prime time. Mayor of a medium sized city isn’t nearly the right kind or enough experience to be seeking… Read more »
rory darjiit

Thanks for the analysis. I grow increasingly scared of the Sanders coalition. I can’t help but feel there is a streak of authoritarianism there. At times that feels maybe unwarranted. Still…how many women journalists will find themselves in an attack ad, and then the recipients of death threats and harassment before this is all over?

We seem caught in a moment where the ethno-nationalist fascists and authoritarian socialists would have us believe that liberal democracy can’t work any more. I refuse to believe that…democracy will win in the end.

Janet oc

What the h-ll are you talking about? Russian bots at work with you? Please, Bernie is most definitely NOT authoritarian.

rory darjiit
I fear that he is…or that the movement has slipped too far toward that. I think of it this way…his campaign wages a constant war with the media. This summer, he was running attack ads against Mimi Rocah for criticizing him. They want to start their own net work of siloed Bernie-approved news. Kill MSNBC and turn on TYT. They’re at war with our institutions and processes. How many lawsuits claiming fair elections were rigged? How many attacks on elected officials or processes? How many conspiracy theories? They believe in a one party state. They don’t want a government where… Read more »

Bernie is indeed a Democrat. The way the Democrats used to be. Hmmm Socialist? And what is Social Security and Medicare? Yeah…He he is a Democratic Socialist. I sure hope folks wake up and elect him.

rory darjiit
I’m all-in on Warren and transformative change. Bernie scares me…literal, non-metaphorical fear. I think it stems from growing up LGBT. We faced a lot of opposition from the religious right, who were there at every event making sure we knew they thought god hated us. The thing is…religions are generally a good thing. I appreciate the small town church that is working to run youth groups and help the needy. At the same time, not everyone fits int he picture those churches have of a perfect future. Bernie’s movement is a lot like that to me. There’s no place in… Read more »
Nick Sullivan
I hope to hell you are right, Murfster. But … while we can give reasons why every single candidate still standing can’t win the nomination, one of them has to! Sanders will get crushed, prevent us from making Senate gains and possibly give back the House, or at least lose a bunch of hard-earned seats. Winning AZ, NC, GA with the Pope-Stalker heading the ticket is a pipe-dream; it’s most likely a pipe-dream regardless. I fear we’re gonna be faced with Bloomberg or Bernie, and the Berners will torpedo the ‘Berg as sure as we’re sitting here. Trump, right now,… Read more »