May 16, 2016

Democratic Party Infighting Intensifies As Clinton Continues To Fail In Party Unity Quest

As Hillary Clinton prepares for another primary loss tomorrow in Kentucky and Oregon, she could have used a positive weekend to stop Senator Bernie Sanders’ momentum. Unfortunately for the former Secretary of State that did not happen. Instead, what occurred were multiple state conventions roiled with conflict, fresh reports on her poor favorable numbers, and renewed blowback over her HIV/AIDS comments.

In Alaska and Nevada, Democrats held state conventions that erupted after Bernie Sanders supporters felt that they were being cheated by pro-Clinton forces. In Alaska the majority of Sanders’ delegates walked out as DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz began addressing the convention over the perception that the Democratic National Committee has not been fair to Sanders:

“In what many called an unusually large state convention, the Alaska Democratic Party this weekend chose its delegates for the national convention in July, amid a clash over concerns by some Bernie Sanders fans that the head of the Democratic National Committee has improperly taken steps to benefit Hillary Clinton. The anger over Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was highlighted when more than 25 Sanders supporters walked out of her keynote speech Saturday night.”

Meanwhile in Nevada, Sanders’ supporters were so angered by the unfair proceedings that they refused to concede and eventually had to be forced to leave by casino security:

“Convention leaders declined to reconsider those 56 delegates, and, spurred by the casino — because the event was already well past its scheduled ending time — adjourned for the day. Sanders supporters refused to concede, remaining in the casino’s ballroom after the event had ended. Eventually, casino security and law enforcement officials entered to force the Democrats out of the space, even turning off the lights to get them to depart.”

What this means for Democratic Party unity in the general election was best encapsulated by veteran Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston, who called Nevada’s raucous, grievance-filled Democratic convention a “microcosm of Philly.”

Clinton’s inability to win over Bernie Sanders’ millions of supporters would be a problem for any candidate, but for Clinton it’s exacerbated by her pervasive likability problem and high dishonesty numbers. A recent survey of “a dozen Clinton allies” by the Washington Post found widespread concern about Clinton’s inability to win over the American people:

“When Democrats assess Clinton, they tend to zero in on her communication skills: She is scripted and thin-skinned, they say. And with a sigh, they acknowledge the persistent feeling among a lot of Americans that they just don’t like her. Polls long have shown that many voters do not trust Clinton and that a majority view her unfavorably.”

Pollster Peter Hart also highlighted the fact that rather than improving, Clinton’s numbers are only getting worse:

“Hart said being seen as likable is ‘about the lowest bar’ for a candidate, and yet Clinton has lower likability numbers today than she did when the campaign began.”

Finally, Clinton continues to take friendly fire over her March comments on HIV/AIDS that many activists objected to. Buzzfeed reports that Clinton’s comment motivated 70 activists to join forces to pressure Clinton over the “devastating ripple effect” her comments had on them:

“Still, it was that comment — described in recent interviews with activists and Clinton’s LGBT backers as an ‘insult,’ a ‘personal disappointment,’ and an ‘unconscionable’ mistake — that first set off the coalition’s efforts the spring. Clinton’s words had a devastating ripple effect, particularly inside the community of LGBT voters, young and old, who coalesced early and enthusiastically around the former first lady. Immediately, reactions flooded in on Twitter, Facebook, and over email.”