Can Bernie Still duplicate Obama’s Path to Victory in 2008?

Some have compared Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination to that of Senator Barack Obama in 2008. Even with Sanders’ close loss in Nevada, they point to the similarities to Obama’s campaign against Hillary Clinton at this stage of the race. At this point in 2008 Obama had been victorious in Iowa and New Hampshire and had loss in Nevada, all by close votes. Despite Bernie’s loss in Nevada, pro Sanders observers point to a near dead heat in Iowa and Bernie’s landslide victory in New Hampshire. They encourage their compatriots, telling them that all is not lost, that Bernie can still follow Obama’s path to victory. Let’s examine what Sanders has to do going forward in the immediate future in order to follow Obama’s path to the nomination.

The South Carolina primary is next. 2008: Barack Obama won South Carolina with approximately 55% of the vote, defeating both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. He won 25 of the South Carolina’s pledged delegates to Clinton’s 12. 2016: According to the current polls – an average of 8 taken in the last 10 days – Hillary is the favorite by over Sanders by 24.1%. Nate Silver gives her a 99% chance of winning.

Then 4 days later Bernie will need to do extremely well in the “SEC primaries” to have a chance of follow Barack Obama’ path to victory in the nomination process in 2008. What follows is an in-depth look at the results of the nomination battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008 in the states which will be holding their primaries March 1, 2016. (The states are listed in order with those with the greatest number of delegates listed first down to those with the least number of delegates.)

237 delegates. 2008: The Texas primary and caucuses in 2008 were close with Obama securing 99 of Texas’ pledged delegates to Clinton’s 94. 2016: The last recent poll which was published 2/16 has Hillary leading Bernie by 23%. Nate Silvers’ prediction on his website gives Clinton’s a 98% chance of wining the Lone Star State.

121 delegates. 2008: Massachusetts was one of the few primaries upcoming which Clinton won in 2008. She took 56.0% of the vote and 55 of the state’s pledged delegates to Obama’s 40.6% and 38 delegates. 2016: This is one of the states where Sanders is leading in the most recent poll by 7%. At this writing, Nate Silvers has not yet put out a prediction for the Democratic primary in Massachusetts.

Georgia: 112 delegates 2008: Obama took 66.4% of the vote in Georgia in 2008 capturing 60 of the state’s 87 delegates. 2016: According to the latest Georgia poll results – and average of two polls take published after 2/4 – Clinton is ahead by 37.5% and Nate Silver gives her a 99% chance of winning Georgia

Virginia: 112 delegates. 2008: Obama earned 54 delegates in Virginia compared to the 29 delegates won by Clinton by winning 66.3% of the popular vote to Clinton’s 35.5%. 2016: In the average of two polls published since 2/14, Clinton leads Sanders by 17% while Nate Silver gives her a 98% chance of winning the Virginia primary.

Minnesota: 94 delegates. 2008: In Minnesota Obama took 66.4% of the vote to Clinton’s 32.2% in 2008 taking 48 pledged delegates to her 24. 2016: The most recent poll was published 1/20 and had Hillary winning by 34%. Silver has not yet put out a prediction.

Tennessee: 77 delegates. 2008: Tennessee was one of the few Southern states where Hillary was victorious in 2008 winning with 53.8% of the vote to Obama’s 40.5%. She also won 40 delegates to his 28. 2016: So this is one state where Sander’s doesn’t have to reverse the trend to keep up Clinton, but winning the state in 2016 might make up losses of elsewhere. However, a Sander’s win doesn’t seem likely at the moment since poll published 2/14 has Hillary leading by 26% and Nate Silver gives her a 99% chance of winning

Colorado: 77 delegates. 2008: In Colorado Barack Obama had a big victory over Hillary Clinton winning 66.5% of the vote and adding 35 delegates in his column. Clinton took 32.3 of the vote and captured 20 delegates. 2016: There are no recent valid polls of the Democratic race in Colorado. The only thing we have in Colorado is a poll published 11/15 of last year showing Hillary up 28%, but I consider it to be too old to be reliable. Of course Nate Silver has no reliable polls on which to make a prediction for the upcoming Colorado primary.

Alabama: 58 delegates. 2008: Clinton lost the popular vote in Alabama to Obama, 56.0% to 44.0% while Obama picked up 27 pledge delegates to her 25. 2016: Only recent poll was published 2/16 and it had Hillary up by 28%, but Silvers has not gotten around to making a prediction on the race yet.

42 delegates. 2008: Hillary won the state of Oklahoma in 2008 with 54.8% of the vote while claiming 24 of the state’s delegates. Barack Obama won only 31.2% of the popular vote (John Edwards was still a factor in the race at the time) and 14 Okalahoma delegates. 2016: So Sanders doesn’t have to do very well in the upcoming Oklahoma primary to keep pace with Obama. However he currently trails Clinton in a recent poll concluded 2/14 by 14.4% while Silvers’ FiveThirtyEight website gives Hillary a 76% chance of winning Oklahoma.

Arkansas: 37 delegates. 2008: Hillary Clinton won the state where her Husband had been governor by a landslide with 70.0% of the vote and 27 of Arkansas’ pledged delegates to Obama’s 26.3% and 8 delegates. So to follow President Obama’s path, Sander’s does need to do real well in Arkansas. 2016: That is fortunate for Bernie because the average of two polls conducted in Arkansas in the last two weeks have him down by 28.5% and Nate Silver give Hillary a 99% chance to win the state.

Vermont: 23 delegates. 2008: Barack Obama won the state of Vermont handily with 59.3% of the popular vote in to 38.6% while capturing 9 of the states committed delegates to Clinton’s 6. 2016: Someone finally conducted a poll in Vermont. It was completed 2/16 and to no one’s surprise Bernie is leading in his home state by a whopping 76%. The FiveThirtyEight website does not yet display a prediction for the race but I suspect it will Nate Silver will soon predict that Sanders will have a better than 99% chance of winning Vermont.

American Samoa: 10 delegates. 2008: The Territory of American Samoa was also the scene of a Clinton victory in 2008 where she took 57.2% of the vote to 42.45% for Obama. She also picked up 2 of the island territory’s three delegates. 2016: Evidently Bernie Sanders message has found receptive ears on the islands because in a just completed poll he leads Clinton by 76.0%. Again there is yet no prediction by Silver, but we’ll concede the territory to Sanders this time around.

Looking back on the above list we can see that Bernie is way behind in all of the 8 states which Barack Obama won in 2008 except in his home state of Vermont. So he is expected to fall well behind in the states in which he must claim victory in order to keep pace with Barack Obama’s run in 2008. In the 6 locations which Hillary won in 2008, where victories in 2016 could help Sanders make up some the lost ground, Bernie has a only a narrow lead in Massachusetts while leading comfortably in American Samoa with its meager 3 delegates.

So can Bernie Sanders keep pace with Barack Obama run in 2008 in the crucial states next up on the Democratic primary calendar? The answer is a resounding – NO!!! Sanders’ early “momentum” has already been blunted by the Hillary’s Nevada caucus victory and he faces a brutal stretch in South Carolina and the critical March 1st primaries. I haven’t made a though analysis of all of the remaining state contests, but I have looked a quite a few and based on what I have seen I can state with a great deal of confidence that Sanders will never make up for losses he is expected to endure over the next ten days without the occurrence of some totally unexpected event. I am now certain that Hillary Clinton will be the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

Cajun 2/21/2016

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