Barring US Marshals or FBI agents showing up and yanking Hillary Clinton’s elderly butt off the stage, Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat nominee. This primary season is a Potemkin Primary. It simply doesn’t matter how many delegates Bernie Sanders wins, Hillary Clinton controls the votes of enough super delegates to carry the day. The spectacle of Hillary Clinton being frog-marched from the home of some billionaire oligarch is really the only hope Sanders has to of winning the nomination.
Even if she wins the nomination, she still has the problem I identified a year ago. You can’t really identify any population segment, other than misandrous lesbians, and the managers of HillaryMen.com who are fired up about voting for Hillary Clinton.
Democratic turnout has fallen drastically since 2008, the last time the party had a contested primary, with roughly three million fewer Democrats voting in the 15 states that have held caucuses or primaries through Tuesday, according to unofficial election results tallied through Wednesday afternoon.
It declined in almost every state, dropping by roughly 50 percent in Texas and 40 percent in Tennessee. In Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia, the number of Democrats voting decreased by between a quarter and a third.
The falloff in Democratic primary turnout — which often reveals whether a candidate is exciting voters and attracting them to the polls — reached deep into some of the core groups of voters Mrs. Clinton must not only win in November, but turn out in large numbers. It stands in sharp contrast to the flood of energized new voters showing up at the polls to vote for Donald J. Trump in the Republican contest.
And it isn’t just a generic turnout problem Clinton faces. It is specifically a turnout problem among the coalition that propelled Obama to victory in 2008:
In three precincts of Virginia’s Third Congressional District, the heart of the state’s African-American community, where overwhelming black turnout in 2008 helped Mr. Obama win the state, turnout was down by an average of almost 30 percent on Tuesday night. The district includes most of Richmond and Petersburg, as well as Newport News and Norfolk.
In Nevada, exit polls suggested that Hispanic voters — who have helped push the once deeply Republican state toward Democrats in national elections — voted in significantly lower numbers than in 2008.
Even Mrs. Clinton’s strong victory in South Carolina, which was celebrated for her dominance among African-American voters, obscured a decline in black turnout of about 40 percent. In Iowa, where Mrs. Clinton eked out a narrow win after a hotly fought battle with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, exit polls suggested that turnout for voters under the age of 30 dropped by roughly 40 percent from 2008.
If there is a drop-off in the [Obama] surge vote in Florida, Ohio and Virginia, that is 60 electoral votes,” Mr. King said. “No one has captured the real dilemma in the 2016 election. It’s not a question of whether Hillary Clinton would get 90 percent of the black vote. The question is: 90 percent of what?”
With younger Democrat women going to Bernie Sanders by a substantial majority and minority voters disengaged, Hillary Clinton faces an uphill battle in November. But this doesn’t keep the Clinton campaign from having delusions:
“It is pretty much universally the case that the party out of power sees higher turnout during its nominating contests, but that is not determinative of general election success,” said Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton. “In the last three election cycles in which Democrats controlled the White House, Republicans had higher turnout during the primaries, but Democrats went on to win the popular vote.”
Fallon is treating Clinton as if she were an incumbent. Note he also includes Al Gore in the victory column with his “popular vote” statement. The fact is that the Democrats have a contested primary. It isn’t merely contested on paper, Bernie Sanders is actually fighting, though within carefully circumscribed parameters. If Democrats were actually excited about voting for either of them they would be turning out in numbers similar to those in the GOP primary. But they aren’t.
But it is not clear whether any Democrat can replicate Mr. Obama’s relationship with the new voters in his two campaigns, particularly black voters. African-Americans turned out widely in 2008 to elect the country’s first black leader and mustered similar strength in 2012 to validate his presidency, angered by what they saw as contempt and disrespect from Republicans.
“They came out and they voted for Obama in a record way,” Mr. Belcher said. “The importance then was that these were not Democratic voters — these were Obama voters.”
If there isn’t someone on the Democrat ticket who can energize the same people who came out to vote for Obama, in the same numbers, then 2016 is going to look much more like 2010 and 2014 than 2008 and 2012.
Don’t get me wrong. The GOP can still manage to screw the pooch and put Hillary in the White House but as the race is developing it is clear than this is a race that is the GOPs to lose.