Could Hillary’s southern firewall come crumbling down?

posted at 10:01 pm on January 26, 2016 by Matt Vespa

We all know Hillary Clinton is shaky in Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s possible she could lose both states, but still clinch the Democratic nomination due to her southern firewall. It’s no secret that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) does well with liberal whites. Iowa and New Hampshire have electorates that are whiter than Wonder Bread, but as we approach the Mason-Dixon line, the primary electorates become more diverse. I guess this is where the Clinton campaign plans to finish Sanders, who isn’t well known in the South. Is the optics of losing the first two early voting states bad for the presumptive nominee bad? Yes. At the same time, Mitt Romney lost two of the first three contests and was still able to nab the Republican nomination in 2012.

Clinton is beating Sanders handily in South Carolina (60/38), which holds their primary on February 27. African-Americans made up over half of the Democratic electorate in 2008 and their expected to repeat that level of turnout again this year. Clinton gets high marks with those voters. Yet, Sanders has been gaining ground in the Palmetto State, with some members of Obama’s campaign team saying that a Clinton win isn’t necessarily “inevitable” (via the Charlotte Observer)

It’s not as inevitable as people think it is,” Rick Wade, a senior adviser in President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, said of a Clinton win.

The key to Sanders getting better known among African-Americans is to push particularly hard for the votes of women, who tend to vote in bigger numbers, said Jaime Harrison, South Carolina Democratic chairman. “He has to visit every church and every beauty shop,” he said.

In the GOP war room, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) recently told NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd that Sanders’ organization in his state has been improved, he’s doing better, and the Clinton camp’s firewall could collapse if there’s a blowout since, according to him, the former first lady’s organization can’t soak up that level of loss (partial transcript below):

 

REP. JIM CLYBURN: “Well, at the moment, this is a firewall for her. No question about that, she’s way ahead in South Carolina. But as happened in 2008, Iowa can change that dynamic very quickly. If it’s close in Iowa and New Hampshire, she could lose both those states and not get hurt badly; in fact it doesn’t even have to be close in New Hampshire if it’s close in Iowa. If it’s a blowout, I mean a 10 points loss—”

ANDREA MITCHELL: “In Iowa?”

CLYBURN: “—In Iowa, it would redefine the race.”

MITCHELL: “What do you mean by redefine the race?”

CLYBURN: “I mean South Carolina could do this year what it did in 2008.”

CHUCK TODD: “How’s her organization here? She needs it as a firewall, is it a good organization? Is it built for a firewall?”

CLYBURN: “She’s got a good organization, oh yeah.”

TODD: “Is it built for a firewall?”

CLYBURN: “Yes it is. But it’s not built for a blow out.”

TODD: “Very interesting.”

MITCHELL: “And how’s his organization here?”

CLYBURN: “Good. It’s much better than I thought it was two weeks ago. What I found since I’ve been home on this break is that he’s doing well.”

Cortney wrote earlier this afternoon that some local lawmakers like South Carolina State Representative Justin Bamberg jumped ship and endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders, describing the self-described democratic socialist as “bold.” He also highlighted a few of Hillary’s weaknesses, that being she’s part of the Democratic establishment and she’s somewhat timid regarding policy advocacy. She likes to stay in the safe lane.

At the same time, when Sanders spoke to predominantly black audiences in South Carolina and invoked his days fighting for civil rights in the 1960s, it drew “lukewarm” reception, according to the Observer. These folks wanted to be talked to as any other American voter; the civil rights angle seemed to come off as pandering to some.

So, yes, Sanders is picking up steam. Voters are “feeling the Bern,” but let’s get back to reality for a second. First, the make-up of the Sanders coalition hasn’t been wholly transformed yet. It’s still mainly liberal whites, which means “the Bern” will wear off as projected back in July. Second, the delegate math definitely shows a Hilary firewall in the South (via Cook Report):

…98 percent of pledged Democratic delegates will come from states with lower shares of liberal whites than Iowa and New Hampshire. Just 447 of 4,051 pledged Democratic delegates – 11 percent – are tied to results in states or districts with higher shares of college-educated whites than New Hampshire. Moreover, just 13 percent of pledged Democratic delegates will be awarded in caucus states like Iowa, which as 2008 proved, tend to bring out more liberal participants than primaries.

In other words, if Sanders prevails narrowly in Iowa or New Hampshire, his support among liberal whites and in college towns – essentially Portlandia – would be entirely consistent with a scenario in which he also gets clobbered by Clinton nationally.

As Cook National Editor Amy Walter wrote last week, this race will come down to whether Sanders is Howard Dean or Barack Obama. While Dean fizzled in Iowa, Obama’s Iowa win solidified his burgeoning popularity among white liberals but also legitimized his candidacy in the eyes of many previously skeptical African-American voters. But so far, there are few hints of a Sanders “expansion” constituency beyond liberal whites.

There’s another gigantic Sanders math problem the Post failed to mention: thanks to Clinton’s early dominance of superdelegates, he effectively begins the race eight points behind in the delegate count, before any votes are even cast.

Third, the Sanders campaign is saddled with a serious turnout hurdle, as their voter tend to be infrequent at best concerning past elections (via NYT):

As Mr. Obama can attest, you can turn out and win with irregular voters — and Mr. Sanders could prove to have the enthusiasm and organization needed to do the same. In one example, as Jason Horowitz and Yamiche Alcindor reported in The Times, the Sanders campaign has plans to send rental cars, vans and buses to carry students who are from Iowa back to their hometowns for caucus day.

But the scale of Mr. Sanders’s turnout challenge is unusually large. Compared with the supporters of Hillary Clinton, his are far less likely to report that they intend to vote; they have less history of voting; and they come from demographic categories who turn out in low numbers.

[…]

There are even questions about how many of Mr. Sanders’s supporters are actually registered to vote. He has not yet led in an Iowa poll that was conducted using data from voter registration files, the technique preferred by most campaigns but only occasionally used by media pollsters. All but one of the surveys using random digit dialing — a kind of poll that contacts all types of adults, including those who are unregistered — have shown a Sanders lead in the state.

The one poll using random-dialing that showed Mrs. Clinton ahead was the one from NBC/Marist, and it took the unusual step of matching respondents to the voter file after the survey was completed. That analysis found Mrs. Clinton ahead by 12 points among people who could be matched to the voter file, while Mr. Sanders led by nine points among those who could not be. (It’s possible that the Sanders backers were more difficult to match to the voter file).

It’s important to remember that voters can register on the day of the caucuses, so Mr. Sanders could overcome a voter registration problem on Feb. 1, caucus day. But the voter registration statistics from 2008 indicate that only a fraction of voters were unregistered before the caucuses. Turnout increased mainly because of voters who were already registered but had not previously participated in the caucuses.

There’s also the question about age:

In the Georgia and North Carolina primaries, where official data on turnout by age is available from 2008, registered black voters who were 18 to 29 were about half as likely to turn out as registered black voters age 65 and older. Similarly, young registered Democrats in North Carolina were only half as likely to vote as older registered Democrats (Georgia does not have party registration).

This is a huge challenge for Mr. Sanders: He is competitive because he leads by stupendous margins among younger voters.

[…]

Of course, Mr. Obama ultimately won the 2008 Iowa caucuses. He succeeded in mobilizing voters, and his supporters were probably so enthusiastic that he might have earned a strong turnout even without an effective ground operation.

We won’t know whether Mr. Sanders repeats his feat until the results come in.

So, will the wall come down for Clinton? It depends on the margin of loss. For now, it seems Sanders surely has momentum, but with a cohort of unreliable voters. As with other primary challengers in the past, he could lose, but leave Clinton battered and bloodied. Questions about her electability seem to be growing every time she’s either trailing or running neck-and-neck with the top tier of the Republican field. Then again, the increasingly devastating development regarding her email server could do that by itself, with many voters considering the former secretary of state as untrustworthy, dishonest, and painfully inauthentic. In all, the status of the firewall won’t be known for sure until after Iowa.

Nevertheless, Clinton is already making preparations for a prolonged duel with Sanders:

The focus on Iowa, which still haunts Mrs. Clinton after the stinging upset by Barack Obama there in 2008, has been so intense that even organizers in New Hampshire, which holds its primary on Feb. 9, have complained to the campaign’s leadership that they feel neglected.

On a call with supporters last week, Mrs. Clinton’s aides laid out a scenario in which the race against Mr. Sanders stretched through April, a prospect that they said would require about $50 million for a national ground operation and other expenses.

“It’s not just a question of the first two states or the first four states,” Mr. Mook said in an interview at Sunday’s Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C. “We’re going to keep going into the map as long as it takes.”

For all its institutional advantages, the Clinton campaign lags behind the Sanders operation in deploying paid staff members: For example, Mr. Sanders has campaign workers installed in all 11 of the states that vote on Super Tuesday. Mrs. Clinton does not, and is relying on union volunteers and members of supportive organizations such as Planned Parenthood to help her.

“It would be good to have the momentum story the day after the caucus of ‘Oh, Bernie won,’ ” Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said, “but it’s really about grinding out the delegates, grind, grind, grind, grind, grind.”

Editor’s Note: This is a cross-post from Townhall


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Comments

Could Hillary’s southern firewall come crumbling down?

What, like with a cloth?

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 26, 2016 at 10:02 PM

She ain’t no ways tarred.

BDavis on January 26, 2016 at 10:02 PM

Some firewall crumbling music by John Cougar

Flange on January 26, 2016 at 10:05 PM

How any self respecting southerner could vote for her after hearing that incredibly fake Southern drawl she brings out while pandering is beyond me.

Doc Holliday on January 26, 2016 at 10:07 PM

The picture is worth a thousand…oh well…one word: NICE!

HomeoftheBrave on January 26, 2016 at 10:09 PM

The picture is worth a thousand…oh well…one word: NICE!

HomeoftheBrave on January 26, 2016 at 10:09 PM

The face that launched a thousand lunches.

Flange on January 26, 2016 at 10:12 PM

She’s come too Faaaaar.

ToddPA on January 26, 2016 at 10:13 PM

Yikes. That photo…

It looks like AG Hustler Loretta Lynch just told Killary how much the No Indictments Fee would be.

viking01 on January 26, 2016 at 10:14 PM

How any self respecting southerner could vote for her after hearing that incredibly fake Southern drawl she brings out while pandering is beyond me.

Doc Holliday on January 26, 2016 at 10:07 PM

you didn’t find that credible? what does she need to do? eat grits?
she lived in Arkansas for god sake.

wolly4321 on January 26, 2016 at 10:15 PM

So if she wiped her server with a cloth, does she really need a firewall anymore?

woodhull on January 26, 2016 at 10:16 PM

“Frankly, My Dear, I don’t give a Damn”

ToddPA on January 26, 2016 at 10:18 PM

“Well, fiddle dee dee”

ToddPA on January 26, 2016 at 10:21 PM

Hillary might not survive all this, politically or otherwise.

She’s sick.

Schadenfreude on January 26, 2016 at 10:22 PM

How any self respecting southerner could vote for her after hearing that incredibly fake Southern drawl she brings out while pandering is beyond me.

Doc Holliday on January 26, 2016 at 10:07 PM

Ditto. To this day my skin crawls when I hear that [email protected]!

bernzright777 on January 26, 2016 at 10:26 PM

Where’s Dreadloc?

22044 on January 26, 2016 at 10:28 PM

She ain’t no ways tarred.

BDavis on January 26, 2016 at 10:02 PM

But she should be. Feathers, too.

trigon on January 26, 2016 at 10:28 PM

Jeb will lose the early primaries and still clinch the Republican nomination because establishment.

Valiant on January 26, 2016 at 10:30 PM

I normally hate to see a woman cry, but I love, love, love to see Her Royal Thighness cry (see screen cap). Just hope and pray I’m seeing that same photo in November. Unless she coughs herself to death before then, of course.

TXUS on January 26, 2016 at 10:34 PM

The correction centers’ union chief now backs Trump.

Schadenfreude on January 26, 2016 at 10:35 PM

Not a joke, he really does back Trump “our American people need jobs”.

Schadenfreude on January 26, 2016 at 10:36 PM

Bad for Mrs Clinton.
Good for America.

TimBuk3 on January 26, 2016 at 10:36 PM

Let her get humbled in Iowa and Nw Hampshire, and she’ll regrow a Southern accent thicker than a
Carolina Marine recruit.

“Wa’al, shoooot, I ain’ gonna hold with none o’ them big city Reeeepublican rich fellers tellin’ y’all a whole mess o’ laaaaas!!”

Yep. Ellie Mae Clinton is coming back in town.

orangemtl on January 26, 2016 at 10:38 PM

I really can’t wait till November, then we can stop seeing pictures of hillary every damned day.

Oh wait, there’s still the charges she might face. Damn. That’ll drag out for years.

Andy__B on January 26, 2016 at 10:39 PM

African-Americans made up over half of the Democratic electorate in 2008 and their expected to repeat that level of turnout again this year.

I keep seeing this and still ask WHY?

King Barack isn’t running again. And just what did the Democrats do for Blacks in the last 8 years?

That’s something Republicans should be asking Blacks.

GarandFan on January 26, 2016 at 10:42 PM

How any self respecting southerner could vote for her after hearing that incredibly fake Southern drawl she brings out while pandering is beyond me.

Doc Holliday on January 26, 2016 at 10:07 PM

No self-respecting Southerner will be voting for her anyway. Those in the South who might vote for her are not worthy of even being called Southerners, much less self-respecting. Carpet-baggers, maybe, but I prefer the term traitor.

TXUS on January 26, 2016 at 10:42 PM

I normally hate to see a woman cry, but I love, love, love to see Her Royal Thighness cry (see screen cap). Just hope and pray I’m seeing that same photo in November. Unless she coughs herself to death before then, of course.

TXUS on January 26, 2016 at 10:34 PM

No apology needed…she’s not a woman.

22044 on January 26, 2016 at 10:47 PM

Matt Vespa, stop posting pictures of her “Oh! Face”. That´s nasty, dude.

Rambotito on January 26, 2016 at 11:16 PM

wait just a minute here. What could this mean?

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/obama-sanders-meet-white-house-wednesday-white-house-001341698.html

vrf on January 26, 2016 at 11:24 PM

The meeting between Hussein and the Commie tomorrow could possibly mean an endorsement on the way or at least some sort of informal support for the Sanders campaign. I couldn’t see any other reason those two would meet.

Cecil Corn on January 26, 2016 at 11:41 PM

Bernie Sanders has no chance. If this race was a football game Bernie would be +200

gxbhkt on January 26, 2016 at 11:52 PM

Hillary looks like a female character playing the lead in a bad remake of “The Picture of Dorian Gray”!

I smell an impending self-destruct.

landlines on January 27, 2016 at 12:26 AM

The college age white people here in South Carolina are all for Sanders. And they are passionate about him. The older whites tend more toward the traditional, conservative and evangelical, even the women, so there’s not a big “gender advantage” for Hillary here.
The blacks in the state, on the other hand, are not particularly political in the same way as the whites. They tend to see politics as a game rigged by white people for white people (history dies a slow and painful death). They turned out for Obama, of course, for obvious reasons. But will they turn out so voluminously for an old white lady who gives off the same snooty aura of entitlement and superiority as the upper-crusty whites they work for? It’s doubtful. And with Trump the Great Populist as the GOP candidate there will not be a dreaded hardcore Right-winger scaring them into the polling booths.

I think Sanders may well end up Driving Miz Daisy in South Carolina.

jbspry on January 27, 2016 at 5:36 AM

Sure. Blacks will show up in droves to vote for a white socialist or a white criminal. Lol!!

Indiana Jim on January 27, 2016 at 9:10 AM

I fail to comprehend how Hillary has any more popularity among Southerners than Bernie Sanders. She grew up in Chicago, she went to college and law school up north, and she lives in and was senator from New York. Okay, she lived in Arkansas for awhile and married a Southern boy, but at no point has she ever been transformed to a Southern lady. I can not see the attraction to her over Bernie. Their politics are not that different.

Techster64 on January 27, 2016 at 10:42 AM

This is purely annecdotal, but I get to spend a lot of time in SC. My mother is a flaming liberal Democrat wing nut. She lives in one of SC larger 55+ retirement communities. One of the Sun Cities. She is active in the community Democratic groups. She is a MSNBC watching fruit loop. But she hates Clinton. he fellows in the various Dem fruit loop clubs in her community all seem to hate Clinton. They seem to be all in for Sanders. Now granted this is a group of 55-95 White women for the most part. It is not indicative of SC as a whole, and certainly does not take into account the substantial Black community in the state. But damn! The old white lady can’t even sell herself to old white ladies in the south? That’s a major warning sign. Hilary may likely win the Black vote. But how enthusiastic will they be turnout wise for the whitest white girl in the room? And even then the black vote alone is not enough in itself. She needs a base. If she isn’t hooking the Second Wave Feminist Old White Ladies than she’s got nothing in the tank.

patches on January 27, 2016 at 11:45 AM

Where’s Dreadloc?

22044 on January 26, 2016 at 10:28 PM

Yes?

Tlaloc on January 27, 2016 at 1:47 PM

That’s something Republicans should be asking Blacks.

GarandFan on January 26, 2016 at 10:42 PM

Agreed, the question is whether you’d really listen to the answers.

Tlaloc on January 27, 2016 at 1:48 PM

So might one say that Hillary is deploying a “Southern Strategy”?

If someone wanted to do some master level trolling they’d go on the talking head shows and start talking about Hillary’s Southern Strategy. That would get rent-free space in the head of every lefty for the rest of the election cycle.

Texas Zombie on January 27, 2016 at 7:26 PM