A presidential primary has served the Democratic Party well. Though many of her supporters might disagree, it has even served Hillary Clinton well – making her a stronger, more seasoned general election candidate, with a better-honed message. A team cannot win the World Series unless it has worked out the kinks during the regular season.
Sanders has brought a much-needed debate to the Democratic Party. He has tapped into the anxiety so many Americans feel about the state of our union and has harnessed that energy into winning millions of votes. Had more Democrats supported him, he would be vetting prospective vice-presidential candidates right now.
But they did not and now there is simply no pathway for Sanders to win. By staying in the race until early June, he is misleading his most ardent supporters into believing that he can pull a rabbit out of a hat and win the nomination. He is siphoning resources away from a general election campaign. He is needlessly driving up the negatives of the likely Democratic nominee.
Most importantly, he is betraying the very cause to which he has dedicated himself since he began his campaign. The longer this primary goes on, the longer his supporters will focus their ire on Hillary Clinton. Resources that could have been banked for a general election will instead be spent in the expensive California, New Jersey and District of Columbia markets.
Whomever the Republicans nominate will enter the general election damaged – perhaps fatally – from a fractured primary season. Surely Sanders would want the Democratic nominee to press that advantage, rather than continuing to drive up her negatives on a quixotic quest which he surely knows will still not yield him the nomination.
His insistence on ensuring that Democratic voters in California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have an opportunity to cast a ballot for him would be much more believable if those voters were not overwhelmingly likely to deliver the majority of their delegates to his opponent. Nothing reflected in Tuesday night’s results reset the table for him. Yes, in politics six weeks is a lifetime but the proportional allocation of delegates in the Democratic primary process means that it would take a Hail Mary for Sanders to win enough of those delegates to surpass Clinton’s pledged delegate count.
Hail Mary plays work when you have nothing more to lose. In this case, the
Democratic Party stands to lose a great deal on Senator Sanders’ play: wasted resources, a distracted presumptive nominee and misdirected energy.
Sanders likes to campaign in poetry but despite the lofty rhetoric, campaigns are fundamentally about arithmetic. The math simply does not add up for Senator Sanders. He and his seasoned team of advisers know it. After Tuesday night’s, “Acela Primary” it is time that he put the cause he claims to champion ahead of himself and urge his supporters to get behind the woman who will do a better job in service of that cause than anyone else who has a realistic pathway to the White House.
Julie Roginsky has extensive experience in government, politics and public relations on both the federal and state levels. She is the president of Comprehensive Communications Group, a public relations and crisis communications firm that counts Fortune 500 corporations, elected officials and non-profit organizations among its clients. Follow her on Twitter @JulieRoginsky.