Bad News For Bernie, DNC “Circling the Wagons”, Polls Polls Polls, and the 2015 New Hampshire Democratic Debate

The New Hampshire Democratic debate, hosted by ABC news, was broadcast on Saturday evening against stiff competition: college football.  None of my universities had a decent football team, or a decent sports team of any kind if I’m being honest, so I personally wasn’t interested in any of that.  Due to a short attention span I’ve never been a fan of organized sports in general besides an avid interest in MMA, which is fast and bloody enough to keep me entertained so long as there is nothing shiny within my immediate field of vision.  But I know America and Americans, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that the despite the strong performances by all the candidates the debate had the lowest ratings of any debate in 2015.  

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Pictured: The only four people watching the New Hampshire debate. Not included: Martin O’Malley

Some say that this is the result of a deliberate move by the DNC to protect the frontrunner Hillary Clinton, that scheduling debates on Saturdays against football games will effectively mute Clinton’s opponents Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.  Among those saying this is Martin O’Malley himself, who, as you may have forgotten during the brief interval between reading the previous sentence and this one, is also still running for President alongside Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  No one is sure why.  He occasionally polls within the margin of error.  I think he’s only still around because the DNC happened to have three podiums and it’d look strange for there to be only two candidates this early in the race. 

“I wasn’t surprised to learn that the despite the strong performances by all the candidates the democratic debate had the lowest rating of any debate in 2015”

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Clinton was so confident she would occasionally leave the podium for a leisurely stroll around the auditorium.

The question of whether the DNC is circling the wagons to protect the frontrunner wouldn’t be as urgent had it not been for the events preceding the debate, in which the Sanders campaign had its access to invaluable election data cut off by the DNC just hours after landing the biggest endorsement of his campaign thus far.  This was ostensibly due to members of Sanders’ staff accessing information that belonged to the Clinton campaign, but the punishment seemed so heavy-handed that the notion of the DNC not just passively supporting Clinton over the others but actively attempting to cripple competing campaigns began to look a lot more reasonable.  So much so, in fact, that Sanders sued the DNC, forcing the  two to come to an accord hours before the debate was scheduled to begin.  He fired the staffer responsible for accessing the protected information and the issue now appears to be settled.

Many expected this event to be a big feature of the New Hampshire debate, but all talk on the subject was over very quickly.  The breach was addressed quickly and the discussion ended almost immediately with Sanders apologizing to Clinton.  Story over, right?

Well, kinda.  The question of whether or not the DNC is “circling the wagons” for Hillary Clinton is still a valid one.  Actually, it’s not really a “question”, because it seems pretty obvious that the DNC is doing its best to protect the narrative everyone involved in the election has been operating under, i.e. that the final showdown will be between Hillary Clinton and whoever wins the Game of Thrones going on over in the Republican camp.  But honestly, everyone assumes that this will be the case, not just the DNC.  I can’t remember a single Republican nominee mentioning Bernie Sanders by name in a debate except when Ted Cruz called him a “Menshivik”.  At first I assumed that to be a portmanteau of the Yiddish word “mensch” and the word “bolshevik”, but it’s actually a surprisingly accurate history lesson in early twentieth century Russian politics.  One point for Ted Cruz, I guess.  At any rate, the Republicans are expecting to run against Hillary in the coming year, and if polls are anything to go by — definitely an open question at this point, which I’ll get to later — that seems to be likely. 

I was speaking with a friend earlier, a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton, and though she didn’t deny that the DNC intervening on behalf of Clinton was likely, she asked why the DNC would even bother given the immense lead Clinton has on Bernie Sanders.  Being the studious person I am, I was able to point out that a 2007 Gallup poll had Clinton ahead of Barack Obama by a similar margin, and we all know how that story ended.  “Yeah,” she answered, “but as much as I like Sanders, he’s no Cool Black Guy” (that may sound facetious, but Obama’s sudden surge in the polls came when he started to be backed by a huge percentage of black voters).  And really, when you think about it, while the kerfluffle in the days leading up to the debate seems like it leaves a stain on the DNC, it still benefits Clinton. 

Consider: in the mainstream news sources like Time and the NY Times, the prevailing narrative seems to be Sanders Does Something Bad, Gets Punished, Sues Democratic Party.  You have to dig deeper in articles to find out that Sanders’ campaign had previously warned the DNC that there were security issues, but by then the headlines — which I’m guessing were similar to those going out across national news networks — have already colored the situation.  Meanwhile, Clinton wisely keeps her mouth shut and allows her campaign leaders shout and holler about how Sanders illegally “stole” their information.  The precise authenticity of those claims is best left to better investigators than I, but at the end of the day everyone watching the debates saw Sanders apologize to Clinton for the data breach and promise that the guilty party had been fired.  The stink of guilt doesn’t wash off that easy, though, even if the charge itself was blown out of proportion and the truth distorted.  Clinton is still perceived as the victim and Sanders the aggressor, and the dispute between Sanders and Chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz, rather than between Sanders and Clinton. 

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Ignore the person behind the cur — the person on the left!


No, unfortunately.  That the DNC would favor its frontrunner is something the Sanders campaign must have known it would have to deal with at some point or another, even if no one expected it to be so very blatant.  The bad news for Bernie is, ironically, the strong performances by himself, Clinton, and even O’Malley during the New Hampshire debate. 

Sanders’ fans will always say he won a debate, simply because they like him more.  If you ask them how he accomplished this victory, which I’ve done numerous times, their answers tend to be along the lines of “he had more integrity!”, which is probably true but still absolutely not an answer.  Don’t get me wrong — he did well Saturday, possibly better than ever.  He’s obviously stepped up his foreign policy game and mentioned the King of Jordan in passing as someone the US needs to align themselves with in a stronger way, which bolsters his policy of putting the onus of action on the muslim nations in the area, while simultaneously sticking to his guns regarding domestic income inequality.  Twice, though, he dodged good questions about domestic terrorism/surveillance and foreign policy to go back to his primary points about the 1% and income inequality.  Those are important subjects, but he hits them too often and it sounds too much like a dodge when he sloppily segues to them in the middle of a conversation about something entirely different. 

Bottom line, as much as I want him to win the Democratic nomination, he doesn’t have the foreign policy chops that Clinton has and it shows.  That problem is not going to go away in the coming months now that the horror-show going on in the mid-east is on everyone’s mind.  And while he had a great night, so did Clinton, which is Bad News For Bernie because that means the enormous gap between the two remains the same.  Whatever faults Clinton has, and she has many, delivering poor debate performances is not among them.  She took a lot of fire Saturday night and answered back each time, eloquently and comprehensively.    

Despite this, she did have a slip-up that I hope Sanders can capitalize on (although it’s a topic in which she usually outguns him) when she claimed that the US is “exactly where we need to be” when it comes to battling ISIS.  A lot of people did a double-take upon hearing this pronouncement, including Clinton supporters, because it sure as hell doesn’t feel like we’re where we need to be.  Her plans for defeating ISIS closely mirror Obama’s, and it doesn’t take a comprehensive understanding of the situation to see how well that fight is going.  Still, Sanders has a steep hill ahead of him when it comes to Clinton.  Look, guys, she’s pretty good at this.  She’s had a lot of practice.  Everyone, including her enemies, are expecting her to run a strong, efficient, and ruthless campaign. 


Earlier I mentioned a 2007 Gallup poll showing Obama in roughly the same place Sanders is in now.  That lackwit H.A. Goodman mentioned it in one of his articles titled “Bernie Sanders Won the Debate, Defeated the DNC, and Became the Real Democratic Front Runner”, a headline that manages to not contain one single factual statement despite having fifteen words and three clauses in it.  Those are all tempting ideas that one may desperately want to believe, but remember that this dipshit H.A. Goodman also called a debate in favor of Bernie Sanders a whole day before the goddamn thing even started.  He’s not an analyst, he’s just an idiot.  Sanders did not win the debate, he did not “defeat” the DNC, and he is in no measurable way the current Democratic frontrunner.  I mean, Jesus, Goodman is still talking about the Clinton email “scandal” like that’s a relevant factor. 


Yeah yeah yeah, the Gallup poll.  You know what Gallup is saying now, in December of 2015?  Nothing at all, because they know better than to put any faith in these kinds of polls.

Accused of badly misreading the 2012 US election, Gallup has given up entirely on the horse race polls for the 2016 primary and may not even conduct them ahead of November’s general election.

“It will be much less a part of what we are doing than in 2012 when we were tracking the horse race every night; we certainly will not be doing that this election,” reveals Newport. Rather, Gallup will move towards more in-depth polling, touching on the “fundamentals and issues”.

It may seem like a cop-out, but these less-direct polling methods, such as tracking favourability, show dramatically different results – with Marco Rubio, for example, achieving Gallup net favourability ratings more than double that of the supposed frontrunner Trump.

Other pollsters believe they have no choice but to continue asking the more straightforward question of voting intentions – even if the answer is less and less reliable.

One executive with the British-based YouGov says its failures during the last UK election had a disquieting effect on internal morale but strangely little impact on external clients, perhaps because the whole industry got it wrong and the pain was shared so widely.

I can show you all the polls you could ever want, but at the end of the day you still need people to interpret that data in the proper context and an audience that can understand it.  Otherwise they’ll lead you wildly astray or to conclusions so mind-numbingly obvious that you’ll roll your eyes so hard the floor will start tilting.  That article was published in December of 2015, for christ’s sake.  “Clinton has the best chance if Trump runs as an independent!”  Word?  So does every single other democratic candidate, you silly bastard, because a split Republican vote basically hands the election to the Democrats.  That isn’t “news”, it’s an agreed-upon fact that everyone in the goddamn world already understands. 

And when that same news site publishes an article like this one by Brent Budowsky, which I see being reposted across social media by Sanders supporters, you don’t have to look very hard to spot the sheer lunacy of the writers. 

Stop the presses! According to a new poll by Quinnipiac University on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) destroys Republican candidate Donald Trump in a general election by 13 percentage points. In this new poll, Sanders has 51 percent to Trump’s 38 percent. If this margin held in a general election, Democrats would almost certainly regain control of the United States Senate and very possibly the House of Representatives.

Jesus, Brent, extrapolate much?  Do you not understand how any of this works, you silly man? 

This may sound like I’m crapping on the Sanders campaign, but I’m not, I promise.  I want Sanders to get the Democratic nomination.  You know what won’t do that, though?  Pretending that he’s already winning, that he’s gonna coast to that nomination on the strength of information that is spurious at best.  The waters are so muddied by the circus this election is causing that I’ve had to employ my Sight-Beyond-Sight and am now using a homemade set of Tarot cards to pierce the veil and gaze into the unknown.  Results have been…mixed. 

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Pictured: superior alternative to polling


Whoops!  Out of space to write.  Goodbye until next time! 

*sound of door opening and closing, car driving off into the distance*

The next Democratic debate will be in Charleston, South Carolina and will air on NBC.  Tuna Ghost doesn’t care if you watch it or not, so long as you’re happy with your decision.



Tuna Ghost lives in Tokyo and has been a contributor to Japan Times and Kansai Scene.Follow him on twitter (@Tuna_Ghost) to read about US politics, the underground Tokyo metal scene, and which brands of 7-11 wine will make you fight like a homeless werewolf prostitute.