My what a difference a month makes. In early May Democrats were already breaking out the champagne and congratulating themselves on their good fortune. Donald Trump had just won the crucial state of Indiana handily, forcing his last two challengers—Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz—out of the race, and Hillary Clinton was a mathematical sure thing in her intra-party squabble with Sen. Bernie Sanders. Democrats breathed a sigh of relief and sat back for for what would inevitably be a smooth ride to the White House.
Establishment Democrats were convinced that they had Republicans right where they wanted them. Surely, Clinton could get past her email troubles and unify the party, but even if she couldn’t, Trump would push enough Republican voters away that it wouldn’t matter. A CNN/ORC poll released on May 4 seemed to confirm that narrative. The poll showed the real estate mogul trailing the lifetime politician by a whopping 13 percentage points, her largest lead since the previous summer.
But then the wheels started to come off the Hillary Express. The problems began when Bernie Sanders refused to hand over the race to Clinton, instead opting to further crank up the rhetoric with the goal of “inflicting a heavy blow on Hillary Clinton in California.” His demand for a revolution was taken literally by his supporters at the Nevada Democrat convention, where they threw chairs, started fights, booed party officials, and even threatened death to the party chairwoman.
Rather than disavow the behavior Sanders issued a press release saying that the “Democratic Party has a choice,” which essentially boiled down to his brand of radicalism or Clinton’s status quo, which is “dependent on big-money campaign contributions” and is defined by “limited participation and limited energy.”
The conflict between Sanders’ and the Democrat Party structure roils on, and the face of that fight has become Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Liberal pundits have long called for the Democrat chairwoman’s ouster, citing her decision to put a thumb on the scale in favor of Hillary Clinton, as evidenced by a dearth of debates, her decision to suspend Sanders’ access to the DNC’s voter file, and the selection of Clinton-friendly delegates for the convention’s standing committees. But now, given the need to ultimately win over Sanders’ supporters, party leaders may be forced to shop for a new party leader at the worst possible moment. The Hill reports:
Democrats on Capitol Hill are discussing whether Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz should step down as Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman before the party’s national convention in July.
Democrats backing likely presidential nominee Hillary Clinton worry Wasserman Schultz has become too divisive a figure to unify the party in 2016, which they say is crucial to defeating presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in November.
“There have been a lot of meetings over the past 48 hours about what color plate do we deliver Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s head on,” said one pro-Clinton Democratic senator.
“I don’t see how she can continue to the election. How can she open the convention? Sanders supporters would go nuts,” said the lawmaker, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.
Of course, none of this would really matter if Clinton was as good of a candidate as Wasserman Schultz apparently believed her to be. Instead, Democrats increasingly appear left with a wounded candidate who can’t stop shooting herself in the foot.
Clinton’s latest trouble is a damning report by the inspector general at the Department of State, who was tasked by John Kerry with looking into former secretaries’ email habits. The report ended up directly contradicting Clinton’s version of events and painted her as a secretive rulebreaked, and confirmed voters’ fears that she isn’t trustworthy.
Even before that report hit the headlines, Clinton’s head-to-head matchup with Trump was looking like a much tougher race than it did just a month earlier. The three most recent polls have Trump up by 3 points, Clinton up by 3 points, and Trump up by 2 points, respectively, all of which represent huge anti-Clinton swings in voter sentiment.
Clinton’s polling woes extend to California, the site of the penultimate Democratic primary, and an absolute must-win for the presumptive nominee. The most recent poll shows the race to be a statistical dead heat, a dramatic turn of events given recent polls showing Clinton with a comfortable double digit lead. As if anyone needed further proof of her tarnished stature in the Golden State, Clinton refused Sanders’ offer to a final televised debate. At this point she knows she has nowhere to go but down. Of course that’s not to say that she’s hit anywhere near rock bottom yet. After all, just imagine how embarrassing it would be for Clinton and Democrats to have her lose the party’s most important, and largest state the same day that she’ll “win” the national nomination.
The fact that that’s even a possibility shows how far and how fast Clinton has fallen. For Democrats who popped the champagne and let the confetti fly upon news that Trump was the GOP nominee, they now realize the mess that they have on their hands, and they are desperate for ways to clean it up.