Hillary Clinton won the Democratic presidential primary by 387 pledged delegates and 3.7 million votes. Despite this large margin, some of Bernie Sanders’s most strident supporters have attributed Clinton’s lead to foul play, alleging that the Democratic Party’s nominating rules cost Sanders the nomination and the Clinton campaign deliberately suppressed pro-Bernie votes. These claims, which have circulated widely online, are false. My colleague Joshua Holland, who supports Sanders, has extensively debunked many of these conspiracy theories, but I want to add more detail now that the primary is over. (I’ve been neutral throughout the race and do not endorse candidates.) First off, the party’s rules were not the deciding factor. Sanders has rejected the idea that the nomination was “rigged” but has repeatedly criticized things like superdelegates and closed primaries, in which Independent and unaffiliated voters can’t participate.
Here’s what he told Face the Nation in late May:
What has upset me, and what I think is—I wouldn’t use the word rigged, because we knew what the rules were—but what is really dumb is that you have closed primaries, like in New York state, where three million people who are Democrats or Republicans could not participate, where you have situation where over 400 superdelegates came on board Clinton’s campaign before anybody else was in the race, eight months before the first vote was cast.
That’s not rigged. I think it’s just a dumb process, which has certainly disadvantaged our campaign.
Clinton did do better than Sanders in closed primaries, winning 17 to his 9, but she also won more open primaries than he did, 13 to 10. Anti-democratic caucuses, where Sanders did very well, hurt Clinton far more than closed primaries hurt Sanders, writes Nate Cohn of The New York Times:
Sanders was generally hurt by closed primaries. By our estimates, he did about 3.5 points worse in such contests. But most states aren’t closed, so Mr. Sanders wasn’t hurt that badly over all. And Mrs. Clinton was hurt more by caucuses, where she did about 10 points worse, according to the same model.
If every contest in the country had been an open primary, Mrs. Clinton’s delegate lead would have grown. She would have lost ground in some of the contests, gained ground in the states with large numbers of anti-Obama registered Democrats (Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kentucky), and gained lots of ground in Western caucuses—where Mr. Sanders earned most of his big delegate hauls.
Over all, Mrs. Clinton would have about a 12-point lead in pledged delegates if every state had an open primary, according to our estimates.
Nor did superdelegates decide the nomination for Clinton. They gave her a symbolic early lead and momentum, but Clinton’s pledged delegate lead over Sanders was three times larger than Obama’s margin over Clinton in 2008, under the same rules. I’m in favor of abolishing superdelegates or curtailing their influence, but it’s worth remembering that they’ve followed the pledged-delegate winner in every presidential contest since their creation in 1984.
Secondly, the Clinton campaign did not intentionally try to suppress the votes of Sanders supporters. Some Sanders supporters point to Arizona, where there were five-hour lines in Phoenix’s Maricopa County during the March 22 primary, as a glaring example of malfeasance. But those lines occurred because Republican clerk Helen Purcell cut the number of polling places from 200 in 2012 to just 60 in 2016—a decision made possible by a 5-4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act and ruling that states like Arizona no longer had to approve their voting changes with the federal government.
Full Article: The Democratic Primary Wasn’t Rigged | The Nation.