The Democratic party is in a terrible situation. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is facing down perhaps the highest stakes election in modern American history and a detestable but electorally viable Republican incumbent. As the first states have voted, the massive field has begun to winnow, although not quite as quickly as the party had hoped and analysts predicted.
FiveThirtyEight is one of the top poll aggregators in the country, and has created an incredibly sophisticated model using polls, demographic data and media aggregation to forecast the results of the presidential primaries. Bernie Sanders leads in the forecast with a 28 percent chance of winning a majority of pledged delegates, with Joe Biden following at 13 percent (nobody else gets close to cracking 1 percent). If not Bernie and not Biden and not any of the other candidates, what is the model predicting? Nobody will win the primary.
In other words, the model predicts a 59 percent chance that no single candidate will enter the nominating convention with a majority of pledged delegates, and it will be up to the party insiders at the convention to determine who the Democratic nominee will be. Bernie Sanders has already begun his cable television tour arguing that the party should give the nomination to whoever enters the convention with a simple plurality of delegates, but the rest of the candidates and the party aren’t so hasty to commit. As the candidate with the best chance of entering the convention with a plurality, Sanders has a lot to gain from making that argument.
In this case, Sanders is right regardless. The DNC needs to put faith in the electorate and nominate whoever gets the plurality of pledged delegates. In a country that has become increasingly partisan, it is far too high a risk to take to make the party seem untrustworthy. If people find that the Democratic party is rigged against Sanders, trust in the DNC will waver and will cause many potential Democratic voters to protest vote for Trump or, much more likely, just stay home. The perceived failure of the party is a far bigger electoral liability than even the least popular of Bernie’s far-left policies.
I myself am not the biggest Sanders fan and I am not excited for the divisiveness a Bernie-Trump election would cause, but I recognize that the DNC needs to wake up and commit to actually representing the electorate. It is what has to be done to win. The last thing the Democratic party needs is another 1968 happening, instantly derailing the hypothetical Biden campaign.
Ultimately, who knows? I’m writing this before Super Tuesday, and by then, maybe this entire worry will be behind us and a surging Tulsi Gabbard will blaze her path to the nomination.
Lila Graham ’23 is from Warrenville, Ill. Her major is undecided.