Heading Into Debates, Sanders Taking On The DNC & Hillary Clinton

CNN Democratic Debate

The decision of Debbie Wasserman Schultz to limit Democratic debates to give an advantage to Hillary Clinton continues to create controversy:

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said she was disinvited from the first Democratic presidential primary debate in Nevada after she appeared on television and called for more face-offs.

Ms. Gabbard confirmed on Sunday that her chief of staff received a message last Tuesday from the chief of staff to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the national committee, about her attendance at the debate. A day earlier, Ms. Gabbard had appeared on MSNBC and said there should be an increase beyond the current six sanctioned debates.

The Sanders campaign responded by offering to have Gabbard come to the debates as their guest:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), the Democratic National Committee vice chair who said she was disinvited to the first Democratic debate, might wind up attending the Tuesday night event as a guest of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said Monday on CNN’s “New Day” that Gabbard could use a ticket from the Vermont senator’s campaign…

“If she needs a ticket, have her give me a call,” Weaver said, adding, “I think we have a couple; we can give her one.”

Weaver’s comments came after Gabbard said she was disinvited to the debate  in Las Vegas after calling for more Democratic debates.

“It’s very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them,” Gabbard told The New York Times

Sanders’s campaign has joined calls for more opportunities to debate, while former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has accused party officials of limiting the schedule to help front-runner Hillary Clinton.
“We would love to have debates: The more debates, the better,” Weaver said Monday on CNN. “It’s healthy for the Democratic Party to have more debates.”

I’ve previously noted how Bernie Sanders is preparing for the debates in an unconventional manner. The Guardian predicts how Sanders will challenge Clinton in the debates:

Although they have decided against the kind of formal dress rehearsals favoured by Clinton and other presidential debate participants, Sanders aides have been working hard on how to counter Clinton’s recent shift to the left on a number of issues that would once have been easy targets.

The most dramatic of these came less than a week before the debate, when Clinton announced an about-turn on free trade and adopted much of the same opposition to Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) deal that has made Sanders popular among progressive Democrats and trade unions.

But aides insist he will not “impugn terrible motives” for such changes, preferring to welcome a convert and merely point out that the policy reversal would have been more useful while Congress was still voting on authorising the trade negotiations.

“Bernie is not going to become a hitman,” said Devine, who helped run the presidential campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry and has been leading the Sanders debate prep alongside campaign manager Jeff Weaver.

“He is not going to go out there and start attacking. It’s against everything he believes in and stands for when it comes to campaign politics,” added Devine.

“Having said that, he will point out the differences, whether it’s past policies like the decision to invade Iraq or present differences, like their plans for college [fees].”

Sanders rehearsed a similar argument about Clinton’s late opposition to the Keystone oil pipeline extension during his latest television interviews on Sunday.

“From day one, I opposed the Keystone pipeline because I believe that if you’re serious about climate change, you don’t encourage the excavation and transportation of very dirty oil,” he told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“People will have to contrast my consistency and my willingness to stand up to Wall Street and corporations, big corporations, with the secretary,” he said.

But advisers said such unwillingness to play hardball does not mean the Vermont senator will not defend himself if he is attacked for being too extreme or leftwing, as has happened in his previous election campaigns.

Bill Curry, a  former White House counselor to President Bill Clinton, looked ahead to the debate, including Sanders’ strengths and Clinton’s weaknesses:

As Trump points out, debates are free advertising. Democrats could use some. The contrast with the Republicans might have helped. Trump’s made them so rabid Democrats could have scored points just by being polite. Debates could have helped Clinton by reminding voters there’s more to her than the email scandal. And they’d have gotten her outdoors. If she had her druthers, she’d never leave her comfort zone. It’s one reason Bernie Sanders could cut her lead from 60 to 16 points. By limiting debate Schultz is enabling Clinton, not helping her.

All of which raises the stakes Tuesday night. What Bernie Sanders has done is all the more remarkable for his having done it without benefit of a primetime debate and despite a virtual media blackout imposed by a know-it-all press. In 2008 Obama drew crowds half the size Sanders pulls and got written up like the Beatles at Shea Stadium. The press believes only in polls and money. In September 2007 Clinton led the young, charismatic Obama by 14 points after debating him every other week for six months. She still led by 8 in national polls the night he ran her over in Iowa. On the eve of their first debate she leads Sanders, a disheveled, 74-year-old socialist from Vermont, by 16 points. Last week Sanders’ finance report showed over a million small donors, better than Obama’s record 2008 pace. More impressive to the press, he pulled even with Hillary in total money raised. This week it began giving him some of the coverage he deserved all along.

In a primary, packed stadiums and an army of volunteers and small-dollar donors mean more than polls and Super PACs. Some say Sanders has hit his ceiling but he hasn’t even had a chance to reach his audience. Tuesday will be the first long look many centrist Democrats have had at him and the first time anyone has examined him side by side with Clinton. If he picks up as many points for his performance as Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio did for theirs, it will be an earthquake…

He went on to discuss Clinton’s need to be more honest and transparent, among other problems:

This is her problem; misunderstanding many of the issues she studies so hard. She can’t speak with conviction of the evils of globalization, she spent years cheering it on and doesn’t really get what’s wrong with it. She can’t get too worked up about pay to play politics; she perfected it and still deems it the best way to win elections. After four years as Secretary of State she still doesn’t see the folly of exporting democracy by force of arms, or that our safety lies in the rule of law.

Clinton has reversed herself on two huge issues: the Keystone pipeline and the Trans Pacific Partnership. She’ll get less credit than she’d like and fume about how hard it is to satisfy liberals. But in making each switch she looked and sounded as if she were moving pawns on a chess board. She announced the Keystone decision in a blog that provided almost no rationale; the line the “SNL” writers gave her was stronger than anything she said about it in real life. Her TPP interview makes clear her commitment there is provisional. (She hasn’t seen the text) She speaks of jobs and currency but not a word on the issue many progressives find most galling, the ceding to corporate interests of the prerogatives of democracy. Nothing she’s ever said in public suggests she’s given that much thought…

Hillary’s recent epiphanies attest to just how much Sanders has moved the debate. If the TPP dies he more than anyone will deserve the credit. Trump has shown that a rich celebrity can succeed in politics without buying very many TV ads. Bernie’s proving that anyone can. In 2008 Obama built the biggest grass movement in the history of politics, but once he won he took it private. Bernie’s movement is built for his supporters and built to last.

Bernie’s miles ahead of Hillary on the issues that count the most but there are two things he still needs to do. The first is to speak more to the problem of public corruption and inefficiency. On most issues most voters are Democrats, yet Republicans run two of the three branches of the federal government and stand a very good chance of perfecting their monopoly in 2016. Voters want to know that the party of government is ready to fix the government.

Looking briefly at the other candidates, if Martin O’Malley is to have any hope of being taken seriously as a candidate, he will need a huge from the debates. The Washington Post gives an example of how poorly his campaign is doing:

Martin O’Malley, who is hoping to jumpstart his presidential campaign with a strong debate performance here Tuesday, continues to get little love from his home state of Maryland.

The former governor is backed by just 4 percent of voters who are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents in a potential presidential primary matchup in the state, a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll finds.

The Washington Post  sees Jim Webb as a possible wild card.

Lawrence Lessig, who was blocked from being in the debates by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has threated to run as a third party candidate due to the unfair treatment:

“Trump said he would stay in the party, and refuse to run as an independent, as long as the Republicans treated him fairly,” said Lessig. “I’m beginning to have a sense of what he was talking about. If the party won’t allow me to run as a Democrat, that creates a lot of pressure to think about a different way of running that would allow me to make this case to the American people. I’ve received as lot of advice and suggestions from people as to how to spread this message. When I first got into this, I frankly didn’t expect that this would be an issue, but it’s something I increasingly have to think about.”

Lessig had previously ruled out a third party run, prior to the DNC’s actions to keep him out of the debates.

An updated version has been posted at The Moderate Voice

New Clue That Biden Might Run–And That DNC Is Keeping Lessig Out

Biden Run CNN

Ryan Lizza wrote that A New Clue Suggests Biden May Run:

Joe Biden has taken another step toward entering the Presidential race.

Representatives of the Vice-President held a meeting this week with Democratic National Committee staffers. They briefed Biden’s aides on arcane but crucial rules that the Vice-President would need to understand if he decides to run, according to a D.N.C. official.

It was the most significant sign the source had seen to indicate Biden’s intentions. “I think it means he’s running,” the source said.

The D.N.C. has held similar meetings for representatives from the five declared Democratic candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley, and Lincoln Chafee. The D.N.C. offered the meeting to Biden earlier this year, and the party committee was scheduled to brief his aides back in June, but that meeting was cancelled.

I’m not so sure that this is “the most significant sign” to indicate that Biden is thinking of running. Is this really more significant than meetings with fund raisers or looking into starting the framework of a campaign? Biden is hardly new to politics, and I also wonder whether this is isn’t actually information which his staffers hadn’t already researched. Maybe this is a more significant signs than all the other signs that he is strongly considering running, or maybe it is one more example of how Biden is doing research to prepare for a decision as to whether to run.

What I find interesting here is the list. Notice one name is missing. Maybe it was an oversight by the writer, but this suggests that Lawrence Lessig was left out. That would be consistent with Lessig’s complaints that the DNC is trying to keep pollsters from including him, which would result in excluding him from the debates.

***

In related news, I recently posted a copy of the ad prepared by the Draft Biden group with plans to purchase spots for it nationally. The ad makes an emotional appeal, using Biden’s family. Biden has requested that the ad not be used:

“The vice president appreciates that they are trying to help,” the person close to the vice president said. “But he has seen the ad and thinks the ad treads on sacred ground and hopes they don’t run it.”

The vice president’s office declined to comment.

In a statement, the super PAC said it would “honor his wishes” and pull the ad.

Republicans In Political Chaos, Clinton “Covering Up Some Shaddy Shit”, And Sanders’ Unconventional Debate Preparation

McCarthy Drop Out

Both political parties are facing a fight against the party establishment in their presidential campaigns, with the Republican battle extending to Congress. Unfortunately the insurgents on the Republican side are the extremists who, while right in finding fault in the establishment, seek to paralyze the political system rather than improve it. Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race for Speaker, and at this point it is difficult to predict how the Republicans will get out of this mess. It is even possible that Boehner will be around a lot longer than he intended.

It is likley that anybody in the Republican leadership would fail to receive enough Tea Party support to become Speaker, but McCarthy sure did not do himself any favors with his comment on the Benghazi hearings in late September. His statement will probably be quoted quite frequently by Hillary Clinton, who has a strong case in criticizing that witch hunt.

Unfortunately for Clinton, she is also guilty herself of quite a bit of unethical and foolish behavior, along with violation of multiple government regulations. There is another quote mentioned in The Hill which Clinton will hope does not get repeated very often (emphasis mine):

Perhaps Clinton has learned the value of distraction from Donald Trump; fresh off her comedy skit on “Saturday Night Live” she mailed copies of her book “Hard Choices” to the entire GOP presidential field with a cheeky note about them starting a book club together. She also spoofed McCarthy’s blunder in an online video and her surrogates continue to rage about it on Twitter.

But a Senate investigation has now revealed a second company that backed up Clinton’s emails, and it has turned over its data to the FBI investigation into whether she mishandled classified information. Documents also show the first company is now concerned it may have deleted emails following the initial request the State Department made for her work records. One employee of Platte River Networks, which turned the server over to the FBI in August, wrote to another of concern that “this whole thing is really covering up some shaddy [sic] shit,” according to documents.

Next week’s debate has the potential to further shake up the Democratic race. The trend so far has been that the more people see of Bernie Sanders, the more they like him, and the opposite for Hillary Clinton. Politico reports on Sanders’ unorthodox debate preparation:

Hillary Clinton has had aides lined up to run her debate prep for months. A Washington super lawyer is mimicking Bernie Sanders, and her top policy staffer is acting as Martin O’Malley.

Sanders started studying for next Tuesday’s event not even a full week ago. And that’s because his two top aides sat him down in Burlington on Friday and asked whether he had a plan.

Sanders has briefing books, a couple of meetings with policy experts and an abiding aversion to the idea of acting out a debate before it happens. He knows the stakes are high, his staff says. But the candidate, whose New Hampshire polling and fundraising prowess have put a scare into Clinton, is uninterested in going through the motions of typical debate practice.

The Vermont senator’s debate preparations, in other words, don’t look a ton like debate preparations.

While CNN is billing the event as a showdown, Sanders’ team sees the first Democratic debate as a chance to introduce a fairly niche candidate to a national audience. So his team intends to let him do what he’s been doing. Far from preparing lines to deploy against Clinton — let alone O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee or Jim Webb — Sanders plans to dish policy details, learned through a handful of briefings with experts brought in by his campaign.

He won’t attack Clinton personally but will instead identify where their positions differ — on foreign policy, for example — and try to leave an impression with viewers of the substantive differences between the party’s two front-runners.

“You’re looking at a candidate who has run in many, many elections who has never run a negative political ad in my life — and hopes never to have to run one. You’re looking at a candidate who does not go about attacking personally, I just don’t do that,” Sanders said Wednesday.

He’s working to be prepared to stand his ground if Clinton — or O’Malley — comes after him. His team contends, though, that those defenses won’t come through as pre-written one-liners.

“The one thing Bernie’s not going to do is be a politician that delivers canned soundbites. That would be a disaster,” said Tad Devine, the campaign’s chief strategist, who met with Sanders and campaign manager Jeff Weaver last week to kick off the debate planning. “And one of the reasons to not do formal debate prep sessions is it gets rehearsed.”

This is quite a contrast from how Joe Biden has decided that, even should he announce that he is running, he does not plan to participate in the debate because of not having time to prepare his “canned soundbites.”

Unlike Clinton, Sanders has been saying the same things throughout his career, and perhaps this has served as sufficient debate preparation. I just hope that he is not making a mistake. I think back to occasions such as Obama’s first debate in 2008 where I suspect he felt over-confident as he knew the material, which is not the same as being prepared for a televised debate. Plus sound bites cannot be ignored, as these are what appear in subsequent newscasts where impressions of the debate by the public are often different from those who watch the entire debate. Regardless of how Sanders prepares, what I hope does come out of the debate is how he has been right, and Clinton wrong, on so many of the key issues over the past decades.

Lawrence Lessig Protests Acts By DNC To Keep Him Out Of Democratic Debate

Lawrence Lessig

As I noted earlier in the week, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, and Lincoln Chafee have all met the criteria to make the Democratic debate (an average of 1% in three polls, recognized by CNN, released between Aug. 1 and Oct. 10). Joe Biden will be allowed into the debate if he declares his candidacy by the day of the debate–but he reportedly is now putting off his decision even longer.  Lawrence Lessig so far has not qualified, primarily because of not being included in most polls. Lessig has explained how Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic National Committee are keeping him out of the debates:

I’m running for President. Or trying. After raising $1 million in less than 30 days, I entered the primary on September 9 as the Democrat’s only non-politician. My platform is simple: end the corrupting influence of money in Washington, so we might finally have, as Buddy Roemer would put it, a Congress free to lead.

But that message is being stifled with the tacit approval of the Democratic Party leadership, who are deploying the oldest method available for marginalizing campaigns they don’t like: keeping me out of the Democratic presidential debates.

Here’s how you make the debates: After one declares, a candidate is formally welcomed into the race by the Democratic National Committee. Polling firms, taking a cue from the DNC, include that candidate on their questionnaires. Candidates that poll at 1 percent nationally in at least three separate polls earn an invitation. Simple enough.

That’s how the process typically works for other candidacies—but not for mine. The DNC still has not formally welcomed me into the race—despite my raising money at a faster pace than more than half the pack, and being in the race nearly a full month. Polls, in turn, have taken the hint, only including me sporadically on questionnaires: of the last 10 major polls, only three mentioned my candidacy. One poll recently put me at 1 percent (for comparison, candidates O’Malley, Webb and Chafee, who will each get a podium at the debates, are all currently polling at 0.7 percent or less, according to Real Clear Politcs). Were I actually included on every poll, I would easily make the debates.

The Democratic Party could fix this by welcoming me into the race. Yet when I tried to talk about this with the chair of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she scheduled a call, but then cancelled it. So far she hasn’t had the time to schedule another. I’ve had similar experiences at the state level, where the same game is played: The chair of the New Hampshire Democrats invited me to speak at their convention. I was given 5 minutes. Hillary Clinton took an hour.

These signals from the party affect the media, too. While news shows have been busy limning the depths of Donald Trump’s brain, there hasn’t been time to consider a Democratic candidate saying something that no other Democrat is saying—especially if the party itself doesn’t consider the candidate a real candidate. And while the Atlantic listed me as a candidate on their website from day one, it took some lobbying to get the New York Times to do the same. Neither fish nor fowl, and not insanely rich, no one quite knows where to place a candidate like me…

Sanders and O’Malley have been protesting the plans for only four debates, while Clinton only wanted four. Most of the announced dates for the debates are on weekends when there are expected to be fewer viewers.

CNN Allowing Biden To Wait Until Day Of Debate To Declare Candidacy

Clinton Biden Sanders

CNN has announced more specific debate criteria, and it comes out to be extremely Biden-friendly. The requirement is for “an average of 1% in three polls, recognized by CNN, released between Aug. 1 and Oct. 10.” Under this criteria, Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley, Webb, and Chafee already qualify.

This leaves two other potential candidates. Joe Biden has been investigating the possibility of running but has not made a decision. In order for Biden to qualify for the first debate under CNN’s rules, he merely has to “file the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission or declare his intention to do so to appear on stage at the Wynn, according to the criteria.”

Theoretically it means he could drive to the studio the night of the debate and say he plans to file the paperwork. More realistically, even if he keeps his decision quiet, I would think he would want to start practicing prior to the debate. I would also expect  Biden to announce his campaign at least slightly prior to the debate in order to dominate a media cycle with the news of his candidacy. On the other hand, I am not at all surprised that there was no announcement the past week considering the major events occurring, including the visit of Pope Francis, the Chinese State Dinner, and the events at the United Nations.

The Washington Post notes the impact Biden would have on the race:

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday showed Clinton leading rival Bernie Sanders 53 percent to 38 percent, a significantly smaller lead than the 34-point advantage she had in July.

But Biden’s entry to the race could present a significant blow to Clinton’s dominance over the field by siphoning off many of her supporters. When Biden was listed as a potential candidate in the poll, her support against Sanders dropped to 42 percent compared to his 35 percent, while Biden took 17 percent.

I  wonder how much Biden’s support will change just by announcing his candidacy. If he doesn’t run, I wonder how many of his supporters could ultimately be picked up by Sanders.

The remaining possibility is Lawrence Lessig, a frequent critic of Clinton’s ethics. Since my last post on him in August, he has formally announced his candidacy. He did reach one percent from Public Policy Polling, but CNN is not including this poll in their calculation. On his blog, Lessig says that other polls are not including him. A supporter has created a petition at MoveOn, but I don’t see how this will affect the debates. So, if a pollster happens to ask your opinion between now and October 10, consider claiming support for Lessig to help him get into the debate.

Related: Sanders & O’Malley Object To Democratic Debate Schedule But Clinton Reportedly Only Wanted Four Debates

Sanders Leads Clinton By 16 Points In New Hampshire & Narrows Gap to 10 Points Nationally

Sanders Clinton

We could be seeing the biggest political upset in politics since Hillary Clinton was upset eight years ago. Bernie Sanders now has a sixteen point lead over Hillary Clinton in the latest CNN/WMUR poll in New Hampshire:

Hillary Clinton trails Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic nomination for president in New Hampshire, even if Vice President Joe Biden decides not to make a run for the White House, according to a new CNN/WMUR poll.

Sanders has the backing of nearly half of those who say they plan to vote in the first-in-the-nation Democratic primary next year — 46% support him — while just 30% say they back Clinton. Another 14% say they would support Biden, 2% former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, 1% former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, and less than half of 1% back former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee or Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig.

Clinton trails Sanders across most demographic groups, with broad gender and ideology divides bolstering Sanders’ run. He holds 56% of male Democratic voters compared with just 20% who back her, while the two are much closer among women, 39% back Sanders, 37% Clinton. Likewise, Sanders holds a 56% to 30% lead among liberals, versus a 37% to 31% race among moderates.

Sanders also continues to gain on Clinton in some of the national polls. The Ispos/Reuters Poll shows Sanders down by only ten points:

Hillary Clinton continues to lead among Democrats nationwide, with 40% of Dems. Sanders (30%) has gained ground on the front runner.

National polls are virtually meaningless at this point, but it is worth pointing out how close Sanders is in this poll considering how much noise Clinton supporters make when a poll shows any increase in her support nationally, no matter how briefly this lasts or what the other polls are showing.  Sanders has plenty of opportunity to close the gap nationally should he beat Clinton in New Hampshire and/or Iowa. The debates will also provide a major opportunity for Sanders, even with the limited debate schedule.

Sanders Leads Clinton In Another New Hampshire Poll, Drawing Support From Both Moderates And Liberals

Public Policy Polling Sanders New Hampshire

Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton in a second poll in New Hampshire. Public Policy Polling reports:

There’s been a big shift on the Democratic side since April as well. Bernie Sanders now leads the field in the state with 42% to 35% for Hillary Clinton, 6% for Jim Webb, 4% for Martin O’Malley, 2% for Lincoln Chafee, and 1% for Lawrence Lessig.

The main story in New Hampshire is how universally popular Sanders has become with the Democratic electorate. 78% see him favorably to only 12% with a negative opinion- that makes him easily the most popular candidate on either side with their party’s voters. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton’s favorability numbers have taken a little bit of a hit- she was at 78/10 with Democratic primary voters in April, but now she’s at a 63/25 spread.

The ideological divide is actually not that stark on the Democratic side. Sanders is ahead with ‘somewhat liberal’ voters (45/32), ‘very liberal’ ones (46/37), and moderates (40/36) alike. And although there is certainly a gender gap Sanders is ahead with both men (44/30) and women (41/38). But the real big divide we see is along generational lines- Clinton is ahead 51/34 with seniors, but Sanders has a 45/29 advantage with everyone under the age of 65.

New Hampshire is somewhat a world unto itself in the Democratic race. We’re still finding Clinton well ahead everywhere else. But it’s clear there’s a real race now in the Granite State.

It is notable that Sanders’ support comes from somewhat liberal, very liberal, and moderate voters responding to this poll. As other evidence has shown, Sanders’ support is broad based, and not a left-wing phenomenon. Sanders’ views are far more mainstream than many Clinton supporters would like to acknowledge. This, along with the generational divide, is also consistent with what I have argued previously that Sanders represents the future for the Democratic Party.

Sanders also had a clear lead over Clinton in a Boston Herald poll earlier in the month after previously moving into a statistical tie in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll early in August.

Winning in New Hampshire, especially if Sanders also does well in Iowa, should give him a boost in polls in subsequent states, but it will still be a tough challenge to beat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. After George McGovern won the nomination in 1972, party rules were written to favor the “establishment” candidate over an “insurgent” candidate. It would be necessary for Sanders to win well over half the delegates awarded in primary and caucus states due to Clinton’s current support from the super-delegates. Barack Obama did show that Clinton could be beat, but his campaign was boosted by support from party insiders such as Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

The scandals surrounding Clinton could alter this usual dynamic. It is also hoped that the debates will further help Sanders in the national polls against Clinton, but the DNC is protecting Clinton by prohibiting candidates from participating in any debates other than the six sanctioned by the party. In the 2007/8 debates Obama did soundly defeat Clinton on the issues, in my opinion, but there are also many conservative Democratic voters who might accept Clinton’s views.

The highly discussed prospect of Joe Biden entering the race could change the calculations considerably. This could lead to an additional voice criticizing Clinton from the left (even if as not as far left as Sanders) and, more importantly, would lead to a split in the establishment vote and super-delegates, improving the chances for Sanders to win.

In another poll, of questionable reliability considering the conservative source, Rasmussen reports that a plurality of Americans (46 percent to 44 percent) believe Clinton should suspend her campaign due to the email scandal. This includes 24 percent of Democratic voters who believe Clinton should suspend her campaign. Once again, this is Rasmussen, so I will only consider these results as meaningful if repeated by a more reliable pollster.

Sanders And Trump Both Gain On Hillary As Clinton Tries To Lie Her Way Out Of A Worsening Scandal

Sanders Clinton

Those who either thought that Hillary Clinton could easily beat him, or that there was no chance of Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination, received some information to counter such beliefs in the latest CNN poll. Despite all the reports that Trump’s campaign would go on the decline, such as after his attacks on John McCain’s military service or after the Republican debate, Trump continues to lead the GOP field. Even worse, he is now only six points behind Hillary Clinton in the latest CNN poll. While I am not predicting that Trump will win either the nomination or general election, neither of these possibilities looks impossible anymore.

Bernie Sanders is also closing the gap with Hillary Clinton in the same poll:

Hillary Clinton’s advantage against Bernie Sanders among Democratic voters continues to evaporate, according to the latest CNN/ORC national poll released Wednesday morning. And in a general election matchup with Donald Trump, who has led GOP polling for the last month, Clinton leads by just six points.

Among 358 registered voters who identified as Democrats or leaning Democratic, 47 percent said they would vote for Clinton in a primary, while Sanders picked up 29 percent. Vice President Joe Biden, who has not made his intentions known about a run, grabbed 14 percent. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley received 2 percent, and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb earned 1 percent.

In the same poll last month, Clinton picked up 56 percent to Sanders’ 19 percent, another indication that the “drip, drip, drip” of the email scandal is taking a toll on her presidential campaign.

Sanders is generating considerable enthusiasm and support independent of Clinton’s failings, but Clinton is certainly helping in the crumbling of her campaign. There are recent headlines such as Clinton pulls plug on testy presser over server questionsHillary Clinton gets testy when pressed on email, Allies fault Hillary Clinton’s response on emails and Some Hillary Clinton supporters in South Carolina are starting to get nervous.

Hardly the type of headline Democrats should want to see throughout the campaign, and  First Read warns that this will continue:

For Hillary, that email story isn’t going away

After watching Hillary Clinton’s testy news conference yesterday over her emails and server, here is this stark reality for the Clinton campaign: This issue isn’t going away — at least for a couple of more months (when Clinton testifies before the Benghazi committee in October). And there’s just no other way to look at this story but to conclude she has done it to herself. She tried to conflate the private server issue a bit, claiming that we’d have the same questions for her regarding classified information if her emails were on a state.gov server or her own. But that ignores a few facts, including: the existence of the private server only came to light via congressional investigation and the fact that she doesn’t yet have a good explanation of why she decided to have a private server in the first place. Convenience is a tough one for the public to buy, given that the private server conveniently made FOIA requests and Congressional oversight of her email nearly impossible.

One reason this will not go away is that reputable fact checkers have demonstrated that virtually everything Clinton has said in her public statements about the email scandals have been false. This includes the false claim she repeated this week her use of the private server was permitted under the rules in effect in 2009. USA Today further debunked the more recent claims from Clinton:

Hillary Clinton gave an odd — and factually inaccurate — account of how the controversy over her email habits as secretary of State mushroomed into a public spectacle.

Clinton chalked it up to her pride in her work at the State Department and her desire for government transparency. “[I]f I had not asked for my emails all to be made public, none of this would have been in the public arena,” she said during an Aug. 17 radio interview in Iowa.

That’s pure spin…

See the full article, as well as to those linked to above, for the full details. There have been far too many lies from Clinton to address them again here, but we can be certain we will be hearing about them constantly during the general election campaign should the Democratic Party be so foolish as to give Clinton the nomination.

Update: Federal Judge Says Clinton Failed To follow Government Policy In Using Private Server

What The Democrats Were Doing While The Republicans Were Making Fools Of Themselves

Sanders Tweeting Debate

I’ve already discussed what the Republicans were doing Thursday night at the debate. We also know that since then the Republicans have been fighting about Donald Trump’s misogynistic comments about Megyn Kelly, with Trump being disinvited from the RedState Gathering. While the Republicans were debating, Bernie Sanders was tweeting in response. Sanders even had the most retweeted comment of the debate:

In contrast, Hillary Clinton was at a fund raiser, leaving staffers to tweet for her. The most talked about item from the evening was not the issues, as when Sanders tweeted, but Kim Kardasian getting this selfie with Hillary Clinton:

Kim_Kardashian_Hillary_Clinton selfie

If we are to match celebrity endorsements, I’m more impressed by the endorsement for Bernie from Sarah Silverman. She has previously tweeted, “I’m loving @SenSanders . He says what he means & he means what he says & he’s not for sale.” On the day of the debate, the Daily Caller had several pictures of Silverman in shirts promoting Bernie:

Sarah Silverman Bernie

This all raises the question as to why the Republicans are debating but the Democrats are not. The DNC did release their debate schedule late last week:

A total of six debates are scheduled, with six different sponsors: Oct. 13 in Nevada (hosted by CNN); Nov. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa (CBS/KCCI and The Des Moines Register); Dec. 19 in Manchester, New Hampshire (ABC/WMUR); Jan. 17 in Charleston, South Carolina (NBC/Congressional Black Caucus Institute); and two scheduled for either February or March in Miami, Florida, and Wisconsin, hosted by Univision/The Washington Post and PBS, respectively.

Limiting the debates to six, with threats to penalize candidates who participate in any other debates other than those sponsored by the DNC, is believed to have been designed to protect Hillary Clinton from opposition and has received protests from the other candidates and those who desire a more open nominating process.  Bernie Sanders has a petition on his web site calling for more debates. The O’Malley campaign has even threatened to organize debates outside of those sponsored by the DNC. Time reported:

The DNC rule “tramples over everything that is important about the democratic process,” said Jake Oeth, O’Malley’s state director in Iowa. “We welcome anyone who wants to participate and we hope to engage in open conversation with anyone.”

Oeth added that O’Malley staff are in discussions with other Democratic presidential campaigns about the possibility of expanding the number of debates. Deputy campaign manager Lis Smith on Thursday reiterated the point in a tweet.

A spokesman Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign did not immediately respond to questions about discussions with O’Malley’s campaign.

There were more than 20 debates in the Democratic primary in 2008, and 15 in 2004, including debates that were not sanctioned by the DNC…

O’Malley’s campaign is not alone in opposing the six-debate limit. Sanders, who is trailing in polls against Clinton by less than 10 points in Iowa, has started a petition to call for more debates.

“At a time when many Americans are demoralized about politics and have given up on the political process, I think it’s imperative that we have as many debates as possible—certainly more than six,” Sanders said in a statement Thursday. “I look forward to working with the DNC to see if we can significantly expand the proposed debate schedule.”

The DNC, which is staffed by a number of Clinton loyalists, has defended the debate schedule, saying it will allow for a robust discussion over the party’s platform. “These debates will highlight the Democratic Party’s policies, which will continue to strengthen the middle class, and we hope Americans across the political spectrum will tune in,” said party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz.

The threshold to qualify for the Democratic debate is to get 1% in three national polls, conducted by credible news organizations and polling organizations, in the six weeks prior to the debate. This would certainly let Sanders and O’Malley in, along with Biden if he decides to run. Jim Webb would also make it in at present–he is actually polling better than O’Malley nationally. Chaffee is at 0.9 in the RealClearPolitics average so there is a good chance he has at least 1% in three of the polls. It is necessary to have some qualifying threshold as there are actually far more candidates than you might realize, and presumably many more would enter the race if they had a chance at getting into the debates.

Sanders Gaining On Clinton As Her Popularity Drops; In Statistical Tie In New Hampshire

WSJ NBC Poll July

Hillary Clinton continues to be considered the front runner for the Democratic nomination months before any votes have been cast, but her popularity continues to drop. The latest poll to show this came from NBC News/The Wall Street Journal:

The bad news for Hillary Clinton in the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: More Americans view her negatively than they did a month ago, revealing potential vulnerabilities for a general-election presidential contest more than a year away.

The good news for her in the poll: Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field by more than 30 points, and the favorability numbers for two of the top Republicans are even worse than hers.

Just 37 percent of all Americans have a positive view of Clinton, versus 48 percent who have a negative view (-11).

That’s a sharp drop since June, when the NBC/WSJ poll showed her with a 44 percent positive, 40 negative rating (+4) – so an overall 15-point swing…

Despite Clinton’s sinking favorability rating, she continues to lead the Democratic horserace by a wide margin.

She’s the top choice of 59 percent of national Democratic primary voters, while 25 percent pick Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. They’re followed by former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who are tied at 3 percent each.

That margin, however, is smaller than her 60-point national advantage over Sanders a month ago, 75 percent to 15 percent.

If these poll findings persist (and they can change dramatically in over a year), they could indicate problems for Clinton in the general election. Democrats have hoped that any loss in support Clinton receives from the Obama coalition will be made up by more women voters backing Clinton. Now this poll shows a drop in Clinton’s support among white women.

In June, 44% of white women had a favorable view of Mrs. Clinton, compared to 43% who didn’t. In July, those numbers moved in the wrong direction for Mrs. Clinton: Only 34% of white women saw her in a positive light, compared to 53% who had a negative impression of her, the poll found.

Mr. Obama fared poorly with white women voters in the 2012 election, losing them to Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 14 points.

For Team Clinton, the latest poll numbers are a worrisome development. Mrs. Clinton is unlikely to match the African-American turnout that propelled Mr. Obama to two presidential victories, so she has to make up the difference somewhere else. Women eager to see a woman in the White House is a logical group to target. 

Support for Bernie Sanders has increased as support for Clinton has dropped, but some Democrats are searching for another alternative, with multiple stories about Joe Biden possibly running the last few days. Other names also come up occasionally, such as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz:

The 62-year-old CEO has been urged by supporters to join the Democratic primary, with friends “thinking the time is right for someone who’s not a political lifer,” according to Maureen Dowd’s latest New York Times column. The idea, Dowd postulates, could “be a tempting proposition” for Schultz, and offers a worthy party back-up to Clinton should something unforeseen happen to her candidacy…

It would mark a shift for Schultz if he does enter the presidential ring. In an interview with Time in February, Schultz was adamant that he would not run for President in 2016: “I don’t think that is a solution. I don’t think it ends well,” he said in the story. He threw a cautious endorsement of Clinton, saying he was content to “see what Hillary does.”

Schultz has long been vocal about the role of government and its failure in addressing the nation’s pressing issues. In 2013, Schultz started a Starbucks-led petition to end the government shutdown, and delivered more than 2 million signatures to the White House in their “Come Together” campaign. While promoting his book For Love of Country, Schultz talked about the lack of leadership from the U.S. government and politicians: “The country is longing for leadership and for truth with a capital T,” he told Dowd in a New York Times story.

The current success of Donald Trump in the Republican race raises the questions if an outsider such as Schultz could receive comparable support in the Democratic race. On the other hand, the Democrats might already have a potentially successful outsider in Bernie Sanders. Sanders has many of the benefits of an outsider, while also could be seen as a credible candidate for president after having served in Congress for twenty-five years, with a record including opposition to the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. Despite Clinton’s (diminishing) lead nationally,  Sanders is now in a statistical tie with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Victories in both Iowa and New Hampshire might quickly put an end to Clinton’s lead in the national polls.