Krugman’s blog, 5/17/16

There were two posts yesterday.  The first was “Democratic Groundhog Day:”

Ugh. More primaries today. Do they matter?

Not for the nomination. Clinton has won — her big victories in the mid-Atlantic states ended any chance that Sanders can catch up on pledged delegates or popular vote, and he’s not going to convince superdelegates to overturn the will of the voters. Again, the math: Clinton leads by 280 pledged delegates, with 897 left. To overtake, Sanders would need to win the remaining contests by a 280/897 margin, or 31 percent. This is not going to happen.

This is very much true even if he wins both primaries tonight. KY and OR are both very favorable states for Sanders, basically because they’re very white. Alan Abramowitz predicts Sanders +6 in OR, +1 in KY; Benchmark Politics predicts narrow Clinton win in KY, narrow Sanders win in OR. Suppose Abramowitz is right. Then Sanders might narrow the gap by 5 delegates — but there will be only 781 left to go, and his required margin would rise to 275/781 or 35 percent. And the demography gets much worse for him in the remaining states.

But here’s the thing: a lot of Sanders supporters don’t understand this reality — 29 percent still believe that he’s the likely nominee, and another 11 percent aren’t sure. If news reports say that he “won” tonight, they’ll persist in their illusions — and the narrative that Clinton is somehow stealing the nomination will continue to fester.

Sanders could end all of this at any point. He doesn’t even have to drop out, all he needs to do is talk honestly about the realities — and clearly condemn the kind of behavior we saw in Las Vegas over the weekend. But I’m losing hope that he will ever do the right thing.

Yesterday’s second post was “Questions of Character:”

Like a lot of people, I was shocked by the statement Bernie Sanders put out about Nevada. No hint of apology for his supporters’ behavior, lots of accusations about a “rigged” process when the issue in Nevada was whether Clinton should get more delegates in a state where she won the vote. And the general implication that the nomination is somehow being stolen when the reality is that Clinton won because a large majority of voters chose to support her.

But maybe we shouldn’t have been shocked. It has been obvious for quite a while that Sanders — not just his supporters, not even just his surrogates, but the candidate himself — has a problem both in facing reality and in admitting mistakes. The business with claiming that Clinton only won conservative states in the deep South told you that; and even before, there were strong indications that he would not accept defeat gracefully or even rationally.

Here’s what I wrote more than a month ago:

Is Mr. Sanders positioning himself to join the “Bernie or bust” crowd, walking away if he can’t pull off an extraordinary upset, and possibly helping put Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in the White House? If not, what does he think he’s doing?

The Sanders campaign has brought out a lot of idealism and energy that the progressive movement needs. It has also, however, brought out a streak of petulant self-righteousness among some supporters. Has it brought out that streak in the candidate, too?

I’m afraid that we now know the answer. And I feel sorry for all the genuinely idealistic, well-meaning people who got caught up in this terrible mess.

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