Friday, March 11, 2016

5 Reasons Why Clinton/Sanders is a Bad Idea

As the campaign continues to wage, and it becomes increasingly more likely that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are going to be the nominees, a lot of questions emerge.  Most of them center around who is actually going to entrust Donald Trump with the nuclear codes, but that's a conversation for another day.  One of the questions, posited in a surprisingly modest FOX News town hall earlier this week, was over whether or not Hillary Clinton should pick Sen. Sanders, assuming she does end up as the nominee as many expect, as her running-mate.  It was a question that inevitably comes up this late in the game, when people are trying to bring the party together and when the second place finisher in the contest inevitably is one of the biggest names in the party.  The same thing happened to George W. Bush in 2000 with John McCain, as well as with Al Gore and Bill Bradley, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and most notably (because it actually happened) with John Kerry and John Edwards.  The question, though, is whether or not it's actually a good idea, because that's what Hillary Clinton, so close to achieving her lifelong dream, needs to consider as she starts the very quick but vitally important jump from Spring to November.  And below, I'll posit the six reasons why I think that Sec. Clinton could do better than picking Sen. Sanders as her running mate.

1. Young People Are Not a Strong Campaign Strategy

The reality is that one of the biggest strengths that Bernie Sanders has accrued during his campaign is the strong performance amongst young people, in many ways mirroring the successful campaign of Barack Obama eight years ago.  Make no mistake, one of the big entreaties that Clinton will make over the summer is to try and shore up Sanders' supporters, particularly young, white, and male voters (the areas she had the largest deficits in the primaries), because Sanders supporters are likely going to be the easiest converts to her team, certainly in the face of Cruz or Trump.  That being said, it seems unlikely that the voters here aren't going to go to Clinton anyway (they don't have a lot of options), and it seems questionable whether or not the young people who just got out and voted in the primaries are going to simply sit at home.

Even if they do, basing a campaign on youth vote is always a risky and unsuccessful one because younger voters don't turn up to the polls.  This is a fact-it's always one of the most under-performing age groups, and has long been a problem for Democrats, since the demographic is likely to help their cause.  Young people protest and say if politicians really cared about their issues, they'd vote, but this is not a chicken or the egg situation-politicians need to worry most about their most ardent supporters, and young people aren't that.  Clinton would be better off going after other demographics that will show up in the heat of the battle than to go with Sanders to try and gain ground amongst young people.

2. The Age Situation

The reality is that unless Ted Cruz is the nominee, the age question is going to be a moot point.  Expect many people to point out that, despite actually looking a bit younger (what?-it's true), Donald Trump is actually in his seventies, or will be in November.  He's actually older than Sec. Clinton, and that's a big deal as it's taking the age question that Rubio or Cruz would have been spouting pretty vociferously on the stump, off the table.  That being said, you can also be assured that Trump will be picking a young pitbull of a running-mate, someone with prosecutorial experience like Chris Christie or a popular governor like Nikki Haley.  With that candidate against Sanders, it's going to make Clinton's campaign look too much like "one of the past," particularly with Trump being championed as a "new kind of politician."

As a result, Clinton needs to go younger, probably by at least a decade, in selecting her running-mate, and Sanders just won't cut it in that regard.  It would be foolish to think that say, Cory Booker or Julian Castro wouldn't elicit just as much enthusiasm from younger voters, and with them she'd get a stronger "wave of the future" candidate to compliment her ticket.

3. Diversity is Key

Speaking of Booker and Castro, if there's anything crystal clear during Clinton's campaign is that she has enormous potential amongst African-American and Latino-American voters.  Her primary victory will likely be precipitated upon the enormous amounts of minority voters, coupled with older women, that she has brought out to the polls.  If she's facing staunchly anti-immigration candidates like Trump or Cruz, picking a Latino such as Castro or an African-American like Booker or former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick would be a major way to express appreciation and a further alliance with people of color, who could make up the difference in places like North Carolina, Colorado, and Nevada.

Sanders simply doesn't add this level of excitement.  Yes, he would be the first Jewish-American to serve as VP were he selected, but with the exception of Florida, there aren't really enough Jewish Americans in swing states to make the argument that this could be a GOTV strategy, and as Joe Lieberman illustrated in 2000, identity politics don't always equal success in Florida.

4. The Swing State Theory

While recent vice presidential candidates such as Jack Kemp, John Edwards, and Paul Ryan have all proven that you aren't guaranteed a home-state swing if you're chosen for the ticket, it's still worth looking into as the 2-3 points the home state appeal might bring could be critical if things get down-to-the-wire (again, just ask Al Gore, who probably curses himself every day for not picking Bob Graham as his running mate).  Clinton has multiple options if she wants to go swing-state, including Virginia's Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Ohio's Sen. Sherrod Brown, Colorado's Sen. Michael Bennet, or even Michigan's Sen. Gary Peters if she's lacking in the Great Lakes region.

What she doesn't need to do is lock-down Vermont.  You can say that Sanders might bring New Hampshire into the mix, but Mitt Romney couldn't do that in 2012 and he basically lived in the state.  Clinton probably will want to avoid what Gore did in 2000 if the race is close, when he likely regretted taking Joe Lieberman as his running-mate when he really needed more swing state voters.

5. Bernie Wouldn't Want It

It's worth noting, of course, that Bernie Sanders would like to be VP only in theory.  As Vice President, he'd almost certainly have little say in things like who Clinton is receiving money from (until Citizens United disappears, it'd be people he doesn't approve of), and it's not like he won't still be in the national dialogue.  He'll almost certainly get a primetime spot during the Convention, and he's got his Senate seat as long as he wants.  With his national exposure now, he has a large pulpit that will either blast a Trump administration or hold a Clinton administration accountable.  Sanders is surely the 2016 candidate it's easy to claim still wins even if they didn't take the nomination this cycle, and in combination with Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be a powerful national force for the next four years as a senator, perhaps more so than as Vice President.

6. The Landslide Option?

It's worth noting that candidates rarely get to have a full say in who their running mate is.  Only a select few (people like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter) are in a position where they select someone that they want with them and not, instead, selecting someone that isn't politically pragmatic.  In 2004, for example, it was quite apparent that Sen. John Kerry wanted Rep. Dick Gephardt as his running-mate, but John Edwards had charmed too much of the national audience and the Democratic base was basically demanding someone who could counter Kerry's stoicism (which Gephardt wouldn't have done).  If Clinton is up by a wide margin against Trump, she might actually get to pick the exact running-mate she's always dreamed of choosing.

This could mean that she'd go with a longtime Clinton ally like Gov. Terry McAuliffe, General Wesley Clark, Gov. Ed Rendell, or Sen. Evan Bayh.  While Sanders and Clinton are cordial and probably friendly behind closed doors, it's unlikely the two are as close as she is to these men, all of whom have stood by the Clinton family for many years, and with Bill & Hillary, loyalty runs deep.

Those are my thoughts-how about yours?  Who do you think that Clinton will/should choose if she wins the nomination?  Share in the comments!

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