A Democratic Dark Horse?

Jan. 25, 2016 — With her poll numbers dropping, a majority of people saying they don’t trust her in every survey, and national polling giving Donald Trump a 244-213 Electoral Vote lead with states holding 81 votes in undecided territory (according to the Statespoll.com organization), Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign machine is floundering.

Alternative Bernie Sanders is even weaker. Ohio governor and presidential candidate John Kasich (R), when asked about a potential Sanders’ nomination, quipped that “we (Republicans) would win all 50 states if that were the case.” He is exaggerating of course, but clearly Sen. Sanders would be a severe underdog to the Republican nominee and could possibly finish as poorly as George McGovern did in 1972 when he lost to President Richard Nixon with only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia credited to his column.

Should the Democratic situation turn even worse in the coming few weeks, we could see increased speculation that a dark horse candidate, say Vice President Joe Biden, who is making public comments about regretting his decision not to run this year, might yet attempt to snatch the presidential nomination away from both Clinton and Sanders.

But, is such a scenario where Biden or some other candidate could yet enter the race and be successful actually realistic? Clearly, the answer is no.

Logistics would play a large role as to whether or not someone new could effectively enter the race. With voting just days away in the first four states, and the February/March 1 Super Tuesday contests that feature a Democratic delegate base of 1,193 individuals (of the aggregate 4,764 national total) on the horizon, a new challenger would fall so far behind as to virtually have no chance of attaining success.

In fact, should the potential candidate move as quickly as late February to attempt to qualify for individual state ballots, he or she would only have the opportunity of entering nine primaries with an aggregate delegate total of 989 that vote between March 1 and June 7. This aggregate figure represents only 21 percent of the entire delegate universe.

The late-entry campaign strategy would attempt to force a brokered convention by denying the Democratic front-runner, presumably Clinton, the ability to cement a first ballot majority victory. Such a plan would require sweeping the final nine states, and then attracting enough free agent Super Delegates to force the convention into a multi-ballot scenario.

The chances of all of these elements formulating to deny either Clinton or Sanders are virtually nil. The most likely scenario finds Clinton winning a close Iowa vote, losing New Hampshire to Sanders, and then going on a roll throughout the south, thus placing her in strong position at the beginning of March. This will signal the Super Delegates to announce their support for her en masse, and the campaign virtually ends at this point.

Mathematically, on Super Tuesday evening, Clinton will have an approximate committed delegate lead over Sanders of approximately 1,400 to about 550 after factoring in the Super Delegate (1,204 total) status. Therefore, on March 2, the former Secretary of State and First Lady should have about half of the committed delegate votes she needs to secure the nomination.

In summary, there will be no successful dark horse candidate emerging in the Democratic nomination process despite potentially yielding wild speculation laced with panic, and Hillary Clinton is still on track to become the party nominee despite her considerable flaws as a candidate.

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