Hillary Clinton and her allies want Bernie Sanders to withdraw from the race. For additional pressure, the liberal media, including Talking Points Memo,the Washington Post, Daily Kos and the NY Times are piling on in unison. With increasing vehemence, they all argue Sanders should quit because he can’t win the Democratic nomination.
“…Sanders’ campaign is now taking a scorched-earth approach toward its opponents—even if that means helping Donald Trump win the White House,” wrote David Nir in today’s Daily Kos.
Sanders’ continued presence in the race increases divisiveness in the party, his critics assert, makes it harder for Hillary to focus on Trump and forces Hillary to keep spending millions to secure her nomination that would be better spent in the general election.
On March 17, the New York Times reported that the previous week President Obama had privately told a group of Democratic donors that Sanders was close to when his campaign against Clinton would end and that the Democratic Party must soon come together to back her.
According to the Times, people at the donor event “took his comments as a signal to Mr. Sanders that perpetuating his campaign, which is now an uphill climb, could only help the Republicans recapture the White House.”
So let’s look at what Hillary did in her own 2007-2008 contest with Obama.
The objective of each of the candidates in the primaries and caucuses was to secure the support of 2,117 delegates, a majority, to the August 2008 Democratic National Convention.
At the end of 2007, Clinton led in the national polls with 42% of likely voters, over Obama at 23% and John Edwards at 16%.
On Jan. 3, Obama unexpectedly won the Iowa caucuses with 38% of the vote, over Edwards, 30%, and Clinton, 29%. That gave Obama 28 pledged delegates, Clinton 14 and Edwards 3.
At the conclusion of the next three primaries (New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina) on Jan. 26, the pledged delegate vote count was Obama 88, Clinton 46 and Edwards 3. This was after Obama won by a more than two-to-one margin over Clinton in South Carolina, taking 55% of the vote to Clinton’s 27% and Edwards’s 18%. After his shellacking, John Edwards suspended his candidacy on January 30, 2008.
With the Super Tuesday primaries looming, Senator Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama, a high profile endorsement that buoyed Obama’s hopes. On Tuesday, Feb. 5, with 23 states and territories and 1,681 delegates up for grabs, Obama captured 847 delegates and Clinton 834. That put Obama at 1036 pledged delegates and Clinton at 1056.
Earlier in 2008 it had been expected that the nominee would be known after Super Tuesday, but Obama and Clinton were essentially tied in pledged delegates.
During Feb. 9-19, Obama swept 11 state contests and expanded his pledged delegate lead by 120. By the end of February, Obama had 1,192 pledged delegates, Clinton 1,035. But Clinton led among super-delegates, 240 to 19.
In the March primaries and caucuses, both candidates hung in there, with Obama winning 210 pledged delegates and Clinton 205, putting Obama slightly ahead with a total of 1,562½ pledged delegates and Clinton with 1,421½.
On March 29, Obama’s lead prompted Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont, to call for Clinton to drop out of the race. “I think that her criticism (of Obama) is hurting him more than anything John McCain has said,” Leahy said. “I think that’s unfortunate.”
As the contest continued into April, a consensus began to grow that Clinton didn’t have much of a chance to overcome Obama’s lead in pledged delegates. Coincident with that growing feeling, some Democrats began to argue that Clinton staying in the race was damaging Obama’s likelihood of success in the general election.
Clinton did go on to win in Pennsylvania, but Obama won in North Carolina and the two almost tied in Indiana on May 6. At that point, Obama led Clinton by 164 pledged delegates and there were only 217 pledged delegates left to be decided, leading to more calls for Clinton to drop out of the race.
Even comedians got in the act. “Hillary Clinton says she isn’t dropping out because there are still six states that haven’t had their Democratic primary,” said Conan O’Brien. “That’s right. Barack Obama’s favored in the states of Oregon, Montana and South Dakota, and Hillary is favored in the state of denial.”
Clinton’s fortunes deteriorated further on May 10 when Obama’s super-delegate total passed Clinton’s, making it even more likely that Clinton’s run was doomed.
But Hillary Clinton persevered.
It wasn’t until June 3 when Obama’s delegates from South Dakota and Montana primaries, plus his announcement of more super-delegates, put Obama over the majority needed for the Democratic nomination.
Still, it took until June 5 for the Clinton campaign to post a letter to supporters on its website saying Hillary would endorse Obama on June 7.
From my perspective, that pretty well sums it up. Bernie, ignore the calls to drop out coming from Hillary and her bought and paid for acolytes. Keep a-pluggin’ away.
If the hills are high before
And the paths are hard to climb,
Keep a–pluggin’ away.
And remember that successes
Come to him who bides his time,—
Keep a–pluggin’ away.
“Keep a-plugging away”, Lyrics of Lowly Life, Paul Laurence Dunbar