Daily Reformer: The Democratic presidential nomination is nearly finished

Dems have 8 days to stop Bernie. Then it’s over.

Good day.

The Democratic race for president is all but over, but few people will admit it. My thinking on all this was really clarified when I read this cogent piece by Tim Miller, who was in the middle of the 2016 GOP effort to stop Donald Trump and understands better than anyone how hard it is to stop a moving train.

Now is when you get all persnickety about how there’s only been three contests and Sen. Bernie Sanders has amassed just a small fraction of the 1,991 delegates needed. But people often misjudge how quickly the race moves after the yearlong campaign before Iowa and New Hampshire.

Super Tuesday is 8 days away, and it’s essentially a national primary, including Texas and Califormia. Sanders is leading in national polls by a healthy margin. He’s also the most popular Democrat in the field. (Although paradoxically he’s not really a Democrat.)

The bandwagon effect takes hold; irrational though it may seem, Democratic primary voters see him winning and think, well, he’s winning, he must be the most electable, so that earns him more support.

(Which should give you pause before considering the predictive power of a Star Tribune/MPR poll with Sen. Amy Klobuchar in first; the pollster was in the field a week ago, before Sanders’ dominating win in Nevada. See our sister publication Nevada Current for a roundup of Nevada results. The Latino vote is not a monolith, but Sanders’ victory among Nevada Latino voters was commanding and bodes well for him in states like Texas and California, which vote in … 8 days.)

Once he finishes with a significant delegate lead on Super Tuesday, as the polls indicate he will, Democratic heavies who could stop him — like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama — will be loath to intervene. 

He’s also raising buckets of money from $20 donations every day. And he and his staff have done this before. They know how to do it. And candidates who come in second in the nomination often win the nomination the next time, e.g., HW Bush, Dole, McCain, Romney, H. Clinton.

Democrats who don’t want Sanders to be the nominee — and there are a lot of them — need to train all their firepower on Sanders. Right now. Brian Bakst reports a massive ad buy from Mike Bloomberg here in Minnesota, but he has to go negative on Sanders if it’s going to work. They have a week to thwart Sanders. And all the non-Bernie candidates have to decide who the non-Bernie is and drop out and endorse the non-Bernie candidate. But they won’t. Because, as a Democratic operative told me Sunday, “That would mean that these people all cared more about the the country then their egos.” Which, though a very uncharitable view of politicians, tracks with our understanding of human nature.

Of course, just as I keep saying Sanders is far more electable than typical pundits are giving him credit for, he tells “60 Minutes” that, ya know, Castro wasn’t all bad. Which, as Rep. Donna Shalala points out, is a bad look in south Florida.

(If saying nice things about dictators prevented you from being president, obviously Donald Trump wouldn’t be president. And in the same interview Sanders said he would never send “love letters” to Kim Jong Un.)

Sam Stein points out that Sanders’ rise can be attributed to the events of 2009-2011, when it seemed Obama was caving to the Wall Street wing of the party and then to the new GOP majority. All while the country was reeling from the Wall Street casino behavior that led to the financial crisis, which caused the worst recession since the Depression. (In Obama’s defense, he was trying to keep a bad situation from becoming worse.)

A lot of people in the chattering class that sets the zeitgeist didn’t really understand the widespread pain of the Great Recession and the political rancor it aroused. After all, they didn’t know anyone who lost his home. 

Historians, on the other hand, will look back and wonder how anyone could be surprised about the rise of a populist right and a populist left.

Today on the Reformer

Stunning photos of the Northern Metals fire in Becker, by the multi-talented Reformer contributor Tony Webster. Amazing quote from GOP state Sen. Andrew Mathews, R-Milaca, in response to Gov. Tim Walz saying the state was putting a moratorium on Northern Metals permitting:

“Northern Metals is fully cooperating with the state fire investigation, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and their local public health officials. To suggest an arbitrary 30-day hold on permitting from the state is irresponsible and an overreaction.”

Fully cooperating:

I’m cooperating.

Rep. Jennifer Schultz, who is also a UMD health care economist, with her second Reformer column, this time explaining how the health insurance you get from your employer is getting worse all the time because health care costs continue to rise. All of this eats into potential wage growth. Must read.

Our elections are again at risk from Russian sabotage. Ricardo Lopez sat down with Secretary of State Steve Simon and his new tech guy for an enlightening Q&A. I was especially interested in Simon’s view about his impotence in the face of the Russian bot propaganda campaign.

Today at the Capitol

Walz is meeting with students this morning but has nothing else public.

In politics there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, and Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer is my friend this week if she can help us get rid of daylight saving time which she is taking up Tuesday.

Interesting hearing this morning in Ways and Means that seems super wonky but actually really important: How should inflation be treated in budget forecasts? Once you take into account inflationary increases, our current surplus isn’t really much of a surplus at all. But the public doesn’t know that. So Dems wanna change it. GOP thinks it’s trickery to get bigger budget increases.

Budget forecast is Thursday. Full legislative schedule.

Amazon warehouse workers organize

Today at 5 a bunch of groups including Awood Center, Unidos MN, ISAIAH and ASAMBLEA de Derechos Civiles will protest at Amazon’s Minneapolis office, “calling on the corporate giant to support workers, and announcing a policy agenda intended to improve the lives of Minnesota’s immigrant families,” according to the release.

That gives me an opportunity to call attention to this big November Wired magazine story about efforts in Minnesota, especially among a group of Somali-American activists, to get Amazon to improve its working conditions at warehouses like the one in Shakopee.

So I asked last week about Klobuchar ever walking a picket line in Minnesota and still have not received any evidence she’s done so. But a supporter sent me a letter she signed in December 2019 supporting $15 minimum wage at the airport at the behest of unions.

Good Strib piece from Eric Roper and Kristen Leigh Painter on local corporate behemoths 3M and General Mills fighting for the plastics industry all around the country via American Institute for Packaging and the Environment, a Saint Paul lobbying outfit. Who knew we were in such august company?

POTUS is purging the administration of perceived enemies and has openly said he can have anyone investigated or not investigated and it’s all just totally normal.

Same Strib poll: Trump still underwater here, albeit slightly less so, which would seem to track with nationals.

Nevada native Ricardo Lopez pointed me to this wonderfully written piece in the LA Times about the Silver State, which in many respects may represent the country’s mid century future.

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Have a great day all! JPC