The 20 Small States To Sweep(Plus Mississippi):
||2020 Delegate Total
||2016 Vote Share
These 21 small states account for 494 delegates, approximately 13.1% of all available delegates. California at 416 delegates accounts for 11% of all delegates. The top 4 states, adding New York, Texas, and Florida, account for 28.8% of all delegates at 1087. Sanders would need to get 84% of the vote on average in the 21 smallest states to offset a total wipe out in California. He would need 72% of the vote to balance out getting only 15% of California's vote. This is a bit misleading though because at any vote share greater than 70.5% Sanders could theoretically sweep the state. At 75% of the vote with one other candidate breaking the 15% threshold Sanders would accrue approximately 83% of the delegates. Unfortunately he needs a minimum of 30% in California and ideally 80% or so on average in these states to balance out the fact that he faces stiff competition in the other large states.
Averaging 35% in the largest 4 states puts Sanders behind the combined total of all other candidates by 327 delegates. This value could be slightly altered if 1 or more candidates failed to hit 15% but the difference is relatively marginal. Perhaps a 10% drop in the difference depending on the exact numbers. This is easily made up for by Sanders hitting 70-75% in the 21 smallest states. But we want Bernie to do even better, to offset more difficult states. Bernie is likely to be looking at 35-55% in the South counting the Outer South noted in my previous post. The Swing South is contained within the top 4 states so we can ignore that.
The Core South, discounting Mississippi since its within the 21 small states, is worth 261 delegates. The Outer South, discounting states in the small state list, is worth 398 delegates. This puts the South minus small states at 659 delegates total. My delegate projections for the Outer South have Sanders being at a net of -6 delegates discounting small states. He is down 173 delegates for the Core South. So in total the South discounting small and huge states has Bernie down 173 delegates. All in all Bernie's Big State + South State voter discounting small states has him down a shockingly round 500 delegates. His maximum gain from small states is 494 delegates. Using my Mississippi delegate project he loses 22-14 or 8 more delegates. 508 delegates behind vs a potential 458 delegates.
At 65% average in small states with 2 candidates breaking 15% and no wasted votes Sanders goes 298 to 160. A gain of 138 delegates. At 75% with no wasted votes he goes 343 to 115 or a gain of 228 delegates. With 84% of the vote and nothing wasted he gets 385 to 73 or 312 net delegates. A total sweep gains him an obvious 458 net delegates. 312 net delegates is the most likely scenario especially when you account for his poor 2016 showing in some of the relevant states. With a proper resource allocation strategy and a proper message I consider 312 delegates to be total reasonable. Bernie then needs to gain only 196 delegates in the remaining 17 states.
Those states are Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, Connecticut, Puerto Rico, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts and Indiana. Those states collectively account for 1505 delegates. He needs 851 delegates or 56.5% of the votes in those states on average. I will be writing a separate post tomorrow on those states. I wanted to finish a couple other posts before the AMA tomorrow but I got injured and then sick and I have to move to an apartment on the 25th so things were hectic. Below I will outline a potential policy and priority platform that would help boost Bernie to the numbers he needs to win 84%, on average, of the vote in the 20 smallest states(because we discount Mississippi).
Sanders apparently won 810 of the 1621 delegates available in these states in 2016. Some of these states, especially Pennsylvania, at 189-153 or 36 net, lost a lot of delegates because of their Trump vote share. Ohio lost 7. Michigan lost 5. Etc. In any case he would be on track to hit the 56.5% goal if he got 84% of the small state vote.
The strategy for the small state sweep states isn't too different from the core strategy I would advocate for. There are 2 main things to understand. One is that as we learned in the 2016 primaries and for the Midwest and Great Lakes in the general similar states swing together. What this essentially means is that if you campaign in Pennsylvania and Michigan and Minnesota then Ohio and Wisconsin will consider that to be campaigning there. Voters absolutely have strong regional identities. Every Core South State votes for McCain in 2008. Obama also carried every Great Lakes and Midwest state except Missouri which many people may not remember he lost by only 1 percent. West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee went with the Core South. North Carolina went with Virginia and Maryland. So maybe the Outer South has Coastal and Appalachian subdivisions. The Big Swingy South predictably split. Texas Red and Florida Blue. Like Missouri the common wisdom about Texas is a bit off. Obama did .5% better in 2008 than Clinton did in 2016 and in 2012 he did about 2% worse. Only Indiana and North Carolina swapped between 2008 and 2012 despite a 7.2% vs 3.9% popular vote meaning 3.3% swing red. Clinton lost Florida and 5 West/Lake states from 2012 Obama.
Whenever Bernie campaigns in small rural/red states he will gain both a primary and general boost in all of these states. These effects should stack. A strong tour through 4-5 state groupings of relevant states plus good ad spend and potentially a deal with Democratic leadership should allow a relatively strong sweep.
The second factor is that people see where you campaign generally. Clinton pushed California and New York hard and ignored most of the Midwest and Great Lakes. A smart democratic candidate who campaigned in relevant states strongly in the general but also hard in the primaries could swing most of the states Democrats lost from 2012 to 2016. They could also pick up Indiana and Missouri as well as North Carolina. West Virginia, Arkansas, and Oklahoma are possibly on the table for a candidate who campaigns strongly in the Outer South and Midwest and in rural red states. This would involve a brilliant general election campaign but its doable.
Those are both general campaign concerns for all states in the primary and the general. As far as the small states specifically you need an effective message but you also don't want to turn off more urban and non-white voters. You don't need to carry the Greater South to win but you need to be averaging 40-50% there. What you probably want to do is be open and honest. Talk about your plans for non-white and urban voters in rural white states. Do the reverse in more urban and less white states. Campaign on issues that don't conflict and don't be caught giving different messages in different places. As Mayor Pete says its a season for boldness. As a candidate who is an unapologetic social Democrat Bernie should be able to handle radical honesty in what his plans are.
As far as the issues themselves the best option is obviously the New Deal. A greener New Deal than FDRs. Preach infrastructure, highways, etc. Talk about national parks and conservation. Discuss wind and solar farms and so forth. These issues play to millennial climate change and environmental concerns and they promise investment long term in white rural states that have national parks, monuments, and conservation areas. South Dakota has the Badlands. I went there as a Boy Scout. Nature tourism plays well in the Ozarks, in the white water rivers of North Carolina, in Florida and Texas. Philmont Scout ranch is a beautiful property in New Mexico. Again, Scout trip there when I was young. My family has made multiple trips to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Don't spout bullshit about retraining as coders. All that will do is suck away the young talent. And it won't help 40-70 year olds. Voters aren't stupid.
Talk about causes championed by activists in the state. West Virginia was famous for unions in the past and they do good work on prison reform now. Oklahoma was the home of both Black Wall Street and the American Socialist Party which worked to unite black and white share croppers, homesteaders and farmers. There are all kinds of ways to show respect for states and voters.
Another critical issue is also about respect. Saying that people who voted for Trump are not bad people. Some of them are of course but many bad people voted for Hillary, too. Sanders should be working to salvage the people and votes that can be salvaged.
One powerful reason to go to this trouble is that guess what, not only do these states have 2 Senators and admirable histories as progressive and Democratic states that embodied the frontier spirit of early America, but they can also ratify constitutional amendments. And a Sanders administration would want to be passing amendments and getting bills through the Senate that need 60 votes. Even if you write off the older generation, which I don't advise, you can connect with the young voters who will soon be the political leaders in these states. You don't have to flip them all blue in one 4 year term.
Democrats may find that there are a lot of voters ready to vote for the right candidate over Trump. We must not subject our citizens to the tyranny of low expectations. Just as many on the left argue that we should not treat black students or black urban youth that way, young white and even older white people are not deplorable, or worthless, or lost to us.