More math for girls: Clinton voters and false narratives about the 2016 electorate.

Tracey is wrong

When is an insurmountable delegate lead NOT an insurmountable delegate lead?

In The (New, New) New Republic, Eric Sasson asks the logical question:  “Who Is the Hillary Voter?”  Who are these people who irrationally continue to vote for the woman who just can’t excite women, or millennials, or white men?  Sasson suggests that the “voters are angry” narrative that’s probably warranted among the Republicans has taken over political coverage in the Democratic primary race unfairly:

The voter we almost never hear about, however, is the Clinton voter. Which is surprising, since Hillary Clinton has won more votes in the primaries than any other candidate so far. She has amassed over 2.5 million more votes than Sanders; over 1.1 million more votes than Trump. Clearly Clinton voters exist, yet there has been very little analysis as to who they are or why they are showing up to vote for her.

.       .       .       .       .

We never hear that Hillary Clinton has “momentum”—what she has is a “sizable delegate lead.” No one this cycle has described Clinton supporters as “fired up”—it’s simply not possible that people are fired up for Hillary. No, what we gather about Clinton from the press is that she can’t connect. She has very high unfavorable ratings. People think she is dishonest and untrustworthy. She is not a gifted politician. She is a phony. Hated by so many. The list goes on.

Considering that narrative, one would expect Clinton to be faring far worse in the primaries. Instead, she currently holds a popular vote and delegate lead over Sanders that far surpasses Obama’s lead over her at this point in the race in 2008.

Surely not!  But, maybe the news media are a little bit wrong about the prevailing mood of the electorate.  Sure, some people are pissed off–maybe even the majority of Republicans–but clearly, the majority of Democrats aren’t:

If Democrats are so angry, Clinton would not be in the position she is today. Is it really so farfetched to claim that quite a few Democrats aren’t voting for Sanders precisely because he seems angry? Which isn’t to suggest that people aren’t angry—certainly many Republican primary voters seem to be. Rather, it is to suggest that voters who aren’t angry are still showing up at the polls, despite being ignored in news stories.

But what about those yuuuuuuuuuge rallies that Donald Drumpf and Bernie Sanders are staging?  What about that enthusiasm, huh?

So perhaps Clinton voters don’t show up at rallies so much. Perhaps they are a bit less passionate on Facebook, share fewer articles, give less money to their candidate (she does have a super PAC, after all). But what they are doing is perhaps the only thing that actually matters in an election. They are showing up to vote. In numbers that no other candidate can boast. 

Remember the end of the 2012 presidential election campaign?  Mitt Romney was convinced that the huge rallies that greeted him every time he hit the ground in Ohio and Pennsylvania meant that he was going to win, in spite of the actual poll numbers and likely voter forecasts.  But although they may be useful to one another, stagecraft ain’t statecraft, my friends.

I’ve said all along that a portion of the American people might get riled up by an angry pol who sows fear and division, but in the end people vote for the candidate with the positive vision.  With Hillary Clinton as the first nominee of a major party for president, this will already be a historic election year, but let’s work to make it unexceptional in every other way.  #LoveTrumpsHate!

14 thoughts on “More math for girls: Clinton voters and false narratives about the 2016 electorate.

  1. The pressure to justify your support of a candidate on social media through the purest, most righteous anger has led me and many of my fellow HRC-supporters to go “underground.” A dozen of us have a secret Facebook group where we can talk about the election, and politics, and sexism, without being criticized *as people* for our political views. I’m sure there are more groups like ours out there. I’m enthusiastic about my candidate, but it’s exhausting to get excoriated for it every time I express that enthusiasm on social media. I certainly don’t need to be told I’m suffering from false consciousness over and over. So I’m keeping my mouth shut for now and waiting for my primary to come around.

    That’s not really how this should go, though, is it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I could say this is new, but this is exactly what it felt like to be a public, online supporter of Clinton eight years ago. All I can say is that revolutionary change is difficult, and lots of so-called liberals and leftists have a great deal of internalized sexism. (We saw this in ’08 too with the vitriol and bile the left hurled at Sarah Palin. It’s not just Republican men and women who deploy misogyny against their political opposition.)

      I like the fact that people hate and fear Clinton as much as they do. First, this clouds their thinking & they are likelier to make strategic errors. Second, it proves just how revolutionary a candidate she is. I’d be very, very worried if a mountain of hate didn’t greet the first woman nominee of a major party in 228 years, because that would mean the opposition saw her as a weak candidate.

      The hate for Clinton indicates her strength, not her weakness, because who can be bothered to hate someone they think is a pushover?


    • I’m all in for Hillary as are a number of my friends (and some of us are even millennials!)… but the loud ones are all Bernie all the time. Those of us that are supporting Hillary have quietly sounded people out to know who it’s “safe” to talk to – that is, who won’t harangue you or just look at you like you smell vaguely off for supporting a different candidate than they are. I’ve been aggressively managing my social media so that some friendships can survive this campaign season – several didn’t survive 2008.


      • I guess we could see it as a little romantic and clandestine – if she were a losing candidate! But she’s the MAJORITY CHOICE by far in the primaries & caucuses!

        Remember this lesson well when Sanders concedes. Don’t lecture or tell them we told them so. We will need his supporters in November.


      • I only see it (the hate) from berniebros on the Internet and even they are becoming punchlines. (Literally!)

        Though I’m sure if I were back home where I usually get to choose between tea party vs fake libertarian I’d hear more of what I heard 8 years ago.


  2. As anyone who read (or shortly thereafter saw the movie version of) the book “The Last Hurrah,” back when school libraries still had books to distribute, will recall, sometimes the most emotionally intense political rallies happen because people are trying to hold off the loneliness of the realization that their candidate is not going to make it over the finish line, by coming together with presumptively like-minded fellows to generate the appearance of an impending surge to victory. There’s a palpable sense of howling against the coming dawn. A lot of the Trump constituency surely feels that way, whether he wins of not. I know I’m going to show up on April 26, whether the presidential contest is mathematically over by then or not. We have some interesting stuff going on down-ticket, among other things.

    NB: check out the review of Ellen Fitzpatrick, _The Highest Glass Ceiling_ in the New York Times today.


    • Thanks, Indyanna–here’s a link to the above review, which is bookended by the 2008 campaign, but is really a history of three earlier women’s candidacies: Victoria Woodhull, Margaret Chase Smith, and Shirley Chisholm. The review is by Rebecca Traister, whose work I love. A taste:

      But the moment I think better illustrates why Fitzpatrick’s history is an urgent, crucial contribution took place a few days after the Iron My Shirt episode. It was when Hillary staged a surprise upset in New Hampshire, becoming the first woman in American history to win a fully contested presidential primary. (Chisholm won a nonbinding preferential primary in New Jersey in 1972, though most of her Democratic competitors were not on the ballot against her.) In the wake of Clinton’s historic victory, major news organizations, including The New York Times and CNN, failed to mention the milestone in their day-after coverage.

      We have some trouble, in this country, with women’s history: celebrating it, making it central to our national narrative, remembering to notice when it is being made around us.

      Ya think? Or as I pointed out last week, “A Revolution Happened Last Night, and No One Noticed.”


  3. I imagine some of us, like me, remember 2008 too well to allow ourselves to let our hopes to get too high. Part of me is still angry at how the race was gamed in Obama’s favor, how my Michigan vote was discounted at the Democratic convention.

    I’ll let myself celebrate a little when she actually gets the nomination, then when she prevails in November. But in light of Bush v. Gore, I won’t celebrate wholeheartedly until Jan. 20, 2017, when we get to call her Madame President.


    • I know, K. That MI primary in ’08 was a total dumpster fire. (I heard a lot about it from my mother, who lives and votes in MI.) Your votes counted this year! And the two Dems went halvsies on them, IIRC.


  4. You know what pisses me off? How otherwise reasonable people just assume that I am a Sanders supporter. Not even that — that I loathe Hillary as much as they do. I’m a female academic of a certain age. Isn’t it obvious that I would support her? Who do they think is voting for her?

    The sad thing is that I rarely correct them, because I just don’t want the grief.


    • WOW. Like Erin above, it sounds like you’d get a lot of grief indeed!

      But honestly: who really thinks their performance of loathing for Clinton is going to dissuade her supporters? I mean, among people who are adults & who recognize that you’re an adult too, and entitled to your political views.

      It’s a sign of how weak their candidate is if they’re focusing on how much they hate and distrust the opposition.


  5. I don’t share my support for Clinton much on social media because it’s akin to rubbing one’s self in HP sauce and jumping into a hyena habitat. There are so many people who can’t seem to let it go and I don’t want to waste any more of my time engaging with them. Mostly I just loudly proclaim my Canadian bona fides and remain very quiet about my preferences between the Democratic candidates.

    But I’m rooting for Clinton and hoping that I can vote for her in the general election if I can manage to get back on the rolls in my home state (which seems to purge the rolls every other year, far as I can tell).


  6. More caucus-vandalism from the Sanders side in Nevada, as reported in the Washington Post today. You lose on voters’ day, then leave apparats behind to keep chipping away at the “actual results” via the next levels of the endless “process.” According to the Post, it goes on from here, and could even end with the runner up getting more delegates than the leading voter getter. If Caucuslandia was part of the Caucasus, the political equation in the graphic above would make more sense.


  7. Pingback: Trust, gender queerness, and Hillary Clinton | Historiann

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