The PoliBlog

The Collective
Sunday, May 25, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Apart from the weirdness of the Bobby Kennedy assassination reference, there is the real issue of whether Clinton’s references to Junes past (those of 1968 and 1992) are legitimate historical analogies to her current situation.

The answer is: no.

As Deperado notes at his Houston Chronicle-based blog:

In 1992, there were 3 major contenders for the nomination–Bill Clinton, Paul Tsongas, former Senator from Massachusetts, and Jerry Brown, former Governor of California. Tsongas won in New Hampshire with Clinton finishing second. Bill Clinton won nearly all the Super Tuesday primaries, making him the front-runner for the nomination. Jerry Brown then upset Clinton in Connecticut and Colorado.

On March 17, Tsongas dropped out after finishing a distant third behind Clinton and Brown in Michigan. On April 7, Brown lost to Clinton in Wisconsin and New York and was never a serious contender after that. Clinton defeated Brown in California in June to clinch the nomination, which by that time was a foregone conclusion.

To get a further perspective on the race that was really a no-contest after Super Tuesday, the final delegate count was Clinton 3372, Jerry Brown 596, Paul Tsongas 289. Clinton won primaries in 39 states compared to 6 for Tsongas and 3 for Brown. Hardly the nail-biter that Hillary would have us believe.

Jake Tapper
at ABC’s Political Punch put it more succinctly:

All serious competition to Bill Clinton had dropped out in March 1992, and party leaders began rallying around him in April.

In regards to 1968, Tapper notes:

the first contest that year, the New Hampshire primary, was on March 12, 1964.

Meaning, the fact that it was still going on in June then would be like this year’s race still going on in March.

But that doesn’t even really begin to explain how the 1968 comparison is ludicrous.

Back then, only 13 states even held primaries — the party bosses in most states controlled the delegates.

Further, Kennedy only announced his candidacy on March 16, 1968.

Tapper goes to one to explain how different the nomination process was in that year. Indeed, as Chris Lawrence notes:

the analogy is pretty stupid, not because it’s offensive but because it’s specious. Much like in NASCAR, where there is a useful division between “prehistory” and “the modern era,” there is no valid comparison between anything today to anything that happened before 1972 when it comes to Democratic nomination politics. And pretty much everyone who was actively campaigning into June since then was either a loser in the primaries or the general election; Clinton would be better off not reminding Democrats of that history.

h/t: Sullivan for the Desperado piece.

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  • pt
    1. Thank you (and all those linked here) for this. I have been wanting to make this point myself, but have not gotten around to it.

      To put it in terms that make more sense for me than that NASCAR example above, saying B. Clinton did not “clinch” till June is a lot like saying that a team 10 games up with 11 to play has not clinched yet. True, but hardly relevant.

      Comment by MSS — Sunday, May 25, 2024 @ 5:40 pm

    2. I think the reason the NASCAR analogy popped to mind was that the “modern era” in NASCAR dates to around 1972.

      Comment by Chris Lawrence — Sunday, May 25, 2024 @ 8:11 pm

    3. Well she has to find some way to rationalize her staying in the race, which I think is fairly easy (”Nobody is going to get enough delegates and I am more electable.”), but she also has to justify why “she is putting the party through this.” A historical analogy, even if it is specious at best, does this.

      Comment by Talmadge East — Sunday, May 25, 2024 @ 11:39 pm

    4. [...] a follow up to my post on Hillary’s historically inaccurate description of her husband’s 1992 quest for the [...]

      Pingback by PoliBlog (TM): A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » False Historical Analogies Redux — Tuesday, May 27, 2024 @ 8:44 am

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