The headline question may be rhetorical, but whoever created the Democrat rules for the 2020 presidential election could not have done a better job for President Trump if that was their purpose. Hmmmmm. Maybe it was the Russians.
To fully appreciate just how badly Democrat National Chairman Tom Perez and his folks have screwed up, you only have to realize that if the Republicans had the same rules in 2016, it would have been virtually impossible for Trump to win the GOP nomination. And if the Democrats had copied the Republican rules from 2016, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders may have already dropped out instead of being the early frontrunner. In both cases, the party establishments created rules designed to protect the establishment but backfired.
In both cases – Republicans in 2016 and Democrats in 2020 – there was an unusually large number of contenders at the onset. The Republican rules, however, resulted in a lot of dropouts early on. As we see today, there are still a significant number of serious contenders dividing up the vote – enabling Sanders to win a relatively large number of delegates with his solid base.
The BIG difference, however, is how the delegates are apportioned.
In the Republican primaries, the winner in any given state is generally awarded ALL the convention delegates from that state. That meant that in 2016 — when Trump won a state with a plurality of, say, 35 percent — he got all the delegates. That enabled him to build up a delegate count that put him over the top well before the convention even though he did not win a majority in many states.
Democrats have a proportionate allotment of delegates – meaning that if you get a percentage of the vote in a state – of at least 15 percent – you get a share of the delegates. This has tended to keep more candidates in the running for a longer period. As long as Sanders holds the majority of the progressive vote – and the others divide up the moderate vote – Sanders keeps winning.
Two other problems with the Democratic rules were seen in the fiasco that was the Iowa primary, which could not produce an accurate count for days – if ever – and awarded more delegates to Mayor Pete Buttigieg who came in second in the popular caucus vote.
The other problem has been the rules covering the debates. There have been too many, in the first place. And the rules that had candidates popping up and down on the stage like Whack-A-Moles prevented a decisive leader to emerge. Though there were lots of debates, candidates were given very little time to respond with more than a talking point or quick claim.
This culminated in a debate in which the entire cadre of candidates looked like fools. They descended into contestants in a mud wrestling contest. The rules – as bad as they were – were ignored in favor of a yelling contest. The debaters did not debate – and the news media moderators did not moderate.
If Sanders just keeps pace with his percentages through Super Tuesday, he will go into the convention as the frontrunner – or even the eventual nominee. If he does not have enough to win on the first ballot – which means he has to have at least close to the 1991 requisite votes to win – his chances diminish as the 750 Super Delegates get to vote and the moderate contenders holding delegates will begin to consolidate under one of the moderates. Bloomberg is betting more than a billion dollars to make sure that he is the lone-standing alternative.
Anything can happen in politics, but it is hard to see how the Democratic Party can avoid disaster in November with or without Sanders as the candidate – and the rules more than voter sentiment is the reason.
So, there ‘tis.