Chapter 2: Primary voting schedule.
It was already mentioned that the national debates were intentionally scheduled by the DNC chair to disenfranchise Independent voters in New York, who number at three million registered voters. The DNC also played some role in rescheduling the state voting order to be more favorable to Hillary Clinton. To the extent it was not done intentionally, it was still structurally favorable to Hillary Clinton and biased against progressive challengers.
In 2014, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook sent an email to John Podesta, and other Clinton allies, discussing a way to order the primary voting dates so that the schedule would be favorable to Hillary Clinton.
As you can see, already in 2014, these insiders with clear power to affect the primary schedule are discussing how to give Hillary Clinton an advantage in the primary voting process. Bernie Sanders had not announced his candidacy at this point, but it is known which states will be more advantageous to Hillary (well, as long as there isn’t a surprise competitor who would “win significant African American votes”).
Also, “keeping the red states early” is a planned defense against any more progressive challenger, not just Bernie Sanders.
The staffers would like to “move their dates earlier (NY, NJ, “maybe others”) “to give her hefty early wins.” These are people who know how the primary works: once an advantage is gained, it is difficult to overcome. The perception of being ahead early in the race is enough to keep the opponents’ voters home, or to get voters to switch over to the “winner.” It is a well-known strategy in political campaigns, and this is one reason why Iowa and New Hampshire are considered so important, with campaigns pouring massive amounts of time, money, and effort into the first two states.
The staffers decide to “look at each state one step at a time,” and this sounds like they’re planning to do an in-depth, deliberate calculation on precisely when to place the states in the primary process.
Also note the language that they would like to “limit as much as possible the perception of direction intervention by the principals.” What that means is they want it to look like they aren’t doing what they’re doing. The primary schedule should appear “neutral” even though it is being tilted against a progressive challenger, and specifically for Hillary Clinton (as much as possible).
Although the primary voting schedule was not altered after Bernie Sanders had announced his run for the nomination, in 2015, it had already been designed to favor a Hillary Clinton type-candidate (if not her specifically) over a Bernie Sanders type candidate.
The first two primaries were locked in as a “matter of tradition,” with no influence by DWS or other DNC officials. Sanders “virtually tied” Clinton in Iowa, then beat Clinton in New Hampshire. Clinton won the next two states: Nevada and South Carolina. These are traditionally more conservative states. But we can dismiss this as a coincidence. It is only two more conservative states in a row.
What seems much less likely to be a coincidence is the next contest: “Super Tuesday.” In 2016, super tuesday included a different set of states from the 2008 primary (compare: 2008 and 2016). The Clinton campaign and many pundits expected Clinton to win the primary on this day alone. This was a major part of Clinton’s so-called “southern firewall,” well-placed to give her an early advantage. Even if we were to believe the primary schedule was not intentionally designed to favor Hillary Clinton and/or the more conservative candidate, that is exactly what the primary schedule ended up doing.
On Super Tuesday:
The day with the most contests was March 1, 2016, in which primaries or caucuses were held in 11 states (including six in the Southern United States) and American Samoa. A total of 865 pledged delegates were at stake.
Clinton secured victories in all of the southern contests except Oklahoma. Her biggest victory of the day came in Alabama, where she won 77.8% of the vote against Sanders’ 19.2%, although her most significant delegate prize came from Texas, where she received 65.2% of the vote with strong support from non-white as well as white voters. Collectively, the southern states gave Clinton a net gain of 165 pledged delegates.
If “Super Tuesday” didn’t make Hillary Clinton unassailable, surely, the next contest would. It was also a contest which favored the more conservative candidate.
The deck is stacked for Clinton, and April 19th in New York would crush Sanders. New York is where Hillary Clinton served as U.S. Senator, and where previous officials discussed “strategic” placing in the primary cycle to help Clinton, specifically.
New Yorks’ strategic placement in the primary would also work in combination with other anomalies, like hundreds of thousands of voters purged from the rolls in Sanders’ home borough, and up to several million Independent and new voters disenfranchised by registration rules. New York put Clinton so far ahead that Sanders would need a miracle in California, which votes last (and like New York, would have significant problems with its election process).
Is this “rigging?”
Here’s what we know. We have the email of Clinton allies, from 2014, discussing what kind of primary schedule would be more beneficial to Hillary Clinton. The schedule was largely different in 2016 than it was in 2008. The schedule undoubtedly favored a more conservative candidate over a progressive candidate — due to being front-weighted with southern states, which traditionally vote more conservative.
While the 2016 primary voting schedule was not a direct reaction to Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, the schedule is structurally biased against progressive candidates. The schedule was also pre-emptively designed for the 2016 race with some amount of dictation from Clinton allies.
There is a running theme in these antics, which will culminate in chapter seven of this report (collusion with media). One of the Clinton team’s main strategies was to make Hillary Clinton seem like an inevitable candidate, and that no one could challenge her.
There’s no telling how many votes this “took” from Sanders, but we do know that the primary schedule was lopsided — and if your candidate has already lost, so early, there’s less motivation to volunteer, and less reason to bother voting at all.
There’s one more reason the front-loaded schedule was effectively a weapon for Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. The schedule was not just biased against progressive challengers; it was biased against lesser-known candidates. As previously mentioned, Bernie Sanders gained popularity the more he became known, while Hillary Clinton became less popular over time. In November 2017, when this report is being written, Bernie Sanders is much more popular among the electorate than Hillary Clinton, and even more popular than Clinton among her own voters. That’s largely because more people have gotten a chance to hear Sanders and know about him.
It’s similar to the debate scheduling strategy. If the more traditionally “conservative” states vote earlier, they will vote more overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton. If they voted a month or two later, Hillary Clinton would have won less votes and gained less momentum early in the race.
It’s a simple principle, and was likely understood by Hillary’s team and the DNC. In this case, it was nothing personal against Sanders — it was a general defense against anyone like Sanders who might rise to challenge Hillary Clinton.
If the DNC truly wanted a “fair and democratic” primary, they would re-examine the order of primary voting, making sure that the process does not favor more conservative candidates. They would also take other measures simultaneously, which have been and will be discussed, like debate schedules and voter registration rules.
Front-loading the primary with large, conservative states — and ordering the primary to favor one candidate in particular, as much as possible — is a different sort of gerrymandering. Again we are left having to make one assumption or the other. Either the DNC is incompetent, and the primary schedule just happened to be unfair to any “progressive” challenger, and it may have favored Hillary Clinton specifically. Or… they did it on purpose. Neither bodes well.