What Bernie’s Michigan Upset Might Mean For Ohio

In a stunning upset, Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary in Michigan last night, narrowly beating Hillary Clinton and delighting those unnamed members of the Webner household who have felt the Bern and are supporting the Sanders campaign.

michigan_for_bernie_sanders_poster-r8ceb6c5a3afe4dddbb80587579ecc891_wv4_8byvr_324It was a shocking victory, because the polls prior to the Michigan primary had shown that Hillary Clinton was way ahead in Michigan, by as much as 20 percentage points, and the pundits had already chalked up the state as falling into the Clinton win column.  But the polls were wrong — obviously — and now the pundits and pollsters are wondering whether there are some fundamental errors in their polling metrics and identification of likely voters.  They are uncomfortably considering whether the fact that polls were so wrong in Michigan might mean that the polling data in similar Midwestern states, like Ohio and Illinois, might also be way off base.  The polls in those states are showing Hillary Clinton currently holds big leads heading into primaries that will be held next week.

Sanders’ upset win is richly satisfying — not because I’m a Sanders supporter or Hillary hater, but because I’m sick to death of how the news media now uses polling data and know-it-all pronouncements to drive a horse race narrative and prematurely pick the winner, rather than just reporting on what the candidates are saying and doing and letting the voters decide.  The pollsters and pundits have long since declared Hillary Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee and have talked, talked, talked about when Sanders will be forced to get out of the race, but the voters in Michigan had something different to say about it and thumbed their noses at the Beltway crowd in the process.  Good for them!

Bernie Sanders obviously touches a chord with some voters that Hillary Clinton simply cannot reach.  Does his win in Michigan mean he might pull off an upset here in Ohio?  I don’t know, but I will say that I have personally seen a lot more excitement and activity in the Sanders campaign than I have from the Clinton campaign.  In Michigan, Sanders crushed Clinton among younger voters, made significant inroads with African-American voters, and appealed to Democrats who are fed up with their economic circumstances.  Ohio isn’t quite in the same shape as Michigan, but many of the same issues are present, and there’s no reason to believe Sanders can’t do the same thing here.

I’m hoping that Bernie Sander’s Michigan shocker means the pundits will stop with their confident pronouncements about what is going to happen, in Ohio and elsewhere, based on polling data that might just be fundamentally flawed.  Perhaps, just perhaps, they will be content to actually let the voters vote now that the race moves to the Buckeye State.


Berning Down The House

Last month a family member made a contribution to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.  It was one of the donations that allowed Sanders to raise an astonishing $40 million, plus, in February.

cdn-r88r-w855h425The $40 million number is particularly remarkable because it no doubt came from tens of thousands of contributions from individual people, and it came at a time when the pundits would have us believe that Sanders is finished and Hillary Clinton is the inevitable Democratic Party nominee.  But my family member didn’t care what the pundits were saying.  The idea was to send a tangible expression of strong support for Sanders, because he is talking about issues of importance to many and because he is willing to tilt at the prevailing political windmills.  The donation, it was hoped, would show that there are a lot of people out there who like what Bernie Sanders is doing and how he is doing it, and hope that he continues the fight.

I’m not a fan of Bernie Sanders’ positions on the issues, but I’m glad a member of the extended Webner clan stepped up to participate in the political process and didn’t get dissuaded by the pundits’ predictions of a lost cause.  I’m tired of the pundits and the political elites trying to prematurely shovel dirt on candidates because of a few results from a few states that aren’t exactly representative of the country as a whole.  We aren’t sheep!  We need more people who are willing to state their views and, from time to time, put their money where their mouth is.  The Democratic and Republican campaigns aren’t over — yet.  The people still will get to have their say.

When Is A Politician’s Health “Fair Game”?

Karl Rove triggered a lot of comment recently when he raised questions about Hillary Clinton’s health and the concussion she suffered after a fall in 2012.  Many people criticized Rove’s statements, and Bill Clinton responded with an extended explanation of what happened in 2012 and how long it took for Hillary Clinton to recover from the incident.  Rove, of course, took Bill Clinton’s response as evidence that he was justified in raising the question of Hillary Clinton’s health in the first place.  In my view, he wasn’t.

Unfortunately, America is afflicted with a seemingly permanent group of “operatives,” of both parties, who served Presidents and other powerful figures in the past but have never fully gone away.  Now they make their livings by being provocative, getting attention from the media, raising money for “issue advocacy” groups and getting paid for speeches.  They’re part of the legions of tiresome talking heads who always get trotted out to address the ephemeral political issues of the day that most normal Americans couldn’t care less about.  Rove is one of them, and I’m sure he was quite satisfied with the largely critical reaction to his statements, because it kept his name in the press.

I’m of the old school that believes that a person’s health is their own business that they are entitled to keep private if they choose.  That changes when a person runs for President.  The physical and mental demands of the job are tremendous, and American voters are entitled to know whether a candidate’s health history raises issues about their ability to bear the strains.  But until someone declares that they are seeking the highest office in the land, their privacy should be respected and there should be no speculation about their health, whether the topic is Hillary Clinton’s concussion or Chris Christie’s weight.  Such an approach would restore some sense of decency and proportion to American politics — which is probably a futile exercise, but still one that should be attempted.

The pundits may view Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic frontrunner, but right now she isn’t serving in public office, nor has she officially declared that she is running for President.  Until she does so, public chatter about her health should be off limits.

Pundits Galore

We’ve been channel-surfing tonight on this Election Night, flipping between CNN, MSNBC, and Fox.

All of the stations feature pundits, of course, but CNN seems to have an unworkably large number of them. Good Lord!  It’s unbearable!  How many are there, anyway?  They seem to be rotating them in and out, like they are players on a hockey team running two-minute shifts.

I suppose pundits are unavoidable on election nights, but can’t the media outlets pick just one or two whom they think actually have something meaningful to say and just stick with them?