06 26 2016
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  • ST. LOUIS (AP) — A draft of the Democratic Party's policy positions reflects the influence of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign: endorsing steps to break up large Wall Street banks, advocating a $15 hourly wage, urging an end to the death penalty. Hillary Clinton's supporters turned back efforts by Sanders' allies to promote a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care system and a carbon tax to address climate change, and freeze hydraulic fracking. While the platform does not bind the Democratic nominee to the stated positions, it serves as a guidepost for the party moving forward. Party officials approved the draft early Saturday. The Democratic National Convention's full Platform Committee will discuss the draft at a meeting next month in Orlando, Florida, with a vote at the convention in Philadelphia in late July. Sanders said Friday he would vote for Clinton, the presumptive nominee, in the fall election, but so far has stopped short of fully endorsing the former secretary of state or encouraging his millions of voters to back her candidacy. The Vermont senator has said he wants the platform to reflect his goals — and those representing him at a St. Louis hotel said they had made progress. "We lost some but we won some," said James Zogby, a Sanders supporter on the committee. "We got some great stuff in the platform that has never been in there before." Added Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., a Sanders ally: "We've made some substantial moves forward." Deliberating late into Friday, the group considered language on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, an issue that has divided Democrats. The committee defeated an amendment led by Zogby that would have called for providing Palestinians with "an end to occupation and illegal settlements" and urged an international effort to rebuild Gaza. The draft reflects Clinton's views and advocates working toward a "two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict" that guarantees Israel's security with recognized borders "and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity." In many cases, Clinton's side gave ground to Sanders. The document calls for the expansion of Social Security and says Americans should earn at least $15 an hour, referring to the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour as a "starvation wage," a term often used by Sanders. Sanders has pushed for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Clinton has supported efforts to raise the minimum wage to that level but has said states and cities should raise the bar as high as possible. Sanders' allies wanted the draft to specify calls for a $15 per hour minimum wage indexed with inflation. Clinton's side struck down a direct link, noting the document elsewhere included a call to "raise and index the minimum wage." The committee also adopted language that said it supports ways to prevent banks from gambling with taxpayers' bank deposits, "including an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall." Sanders wants to reinstate the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited commercial banks from engaging in investment banking activities. Clinton does not, but says her proposed financial changes would cast a wider net by regulating the banking system. Also in the draft is a call for the abolition of the death penalty. Clinton said during a debate this year that capital punishment should only be used in limited cases involving "heinous crimes." Sanders said the government should not use it. Sanders, a vociferous opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was unable to get language into the document opposing the trade deal. As a result, the party avoided an awkward scenario that would have put the platform at odds with President Barack Obama. Clinton and Sanders have opposed the deal. Committee members backed a measure that said "there are a diversity of views in the party" on the pact and reaffirmed that Democrats contend any trade deal "must protect workers and the environment." In a setback for Sanders, the panel narrowly rejected amendments that would have imposed a tax on carbon and imposed a national freeze on fracking. The panel deliberated for about nine hours following several late nights and long hours of policy exchanges between the two campaigns and the Democratic National Committee. Sanders, in a statement, said he was "disappointed and dismayed" that the group voted down the measure opposing the TPP. But he was pleased with the proposals on Glass-Steagall and the death penalty — and vowed to fight on. "Our job is to pass the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party," he said.
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The fact that Chris Christie rolled to a second term in New Jersey and Terry McAuliffe won in Virginia wasn't a surprise. Public opinion polls have consistently shown both men in the lead.

But the exit polls showed two very different paths to victory.

Christie steamrolled hapless Democratic nominee Barbara Buono, 60 percent to 39 percent with 80 percent of the vote counted, crushing her in almost every key demographic. It was the biggest victory for a GOP gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey since Tom Kean was running in the 1980s.

McAuliffe's victory was much narrower than most of the polls indicated, 48 percent to 46 percent with 98 percent of the vote in. He didn't win every key group -- self-described independents broke for Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli -- but he successfully stoked fears about Cuccinelli's strident brand of conservatism in an increasingly moderate battleground state.

Let's start with New Jersey.

Christie beat his female opponent among women by 16 points. He won self-described moderates by more than 20 points. He won independents by more than 30 points. He won voters making less than $50,000. He won voters making more than $100,000.

Christie did very well for a Republican with core Democratic constituencies. He won 49 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29. He won roughly three in 10 self-described liberals. He won 50 percent of the Hispanic vote. And he won roughly 20 percent of the African-American vote.

These are all critical selling points for Republicans hungry to take back the White House in 2016.

If there's one warning sign for Christie's 2016 hopes, it's the fact that the exit polls show he would lose his home state to Hillary Clinton by four points. That doesn't fit with the narrative that he's a Republican capable of winning in blue America.

Half of New Jersey voters said Christie would make a good president. But that doesn't mean 50 percent of New Jersey voters would necessarily back him if he runs for the White House.

Christie will have to walk a fine line over the next couple of years, bolstering his standing among national GOP primary voters while maintaining his credibility with more independent and Democratic-leaning voters. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney couldn't do it.

As for Virginia, McAuliffe won by getting his base to the polls. Democrats were the biggest partisan voting bloc in the state, comprising 37 percent of the total electorate and backing the former Democratic National Committee chairman by a 93-point margin.

McAuliffe hit Cuccinelli hard during the campaign on hot button social issues like abortion, and the strategy paid off. Cuccinelli actually won among the 72 percent of voters who cared most about the economy or health care. But among the 20 percent of voters who called abortion the most important issue, McAuliffe won by 25 points, 59 percent-34 percent.

Half of Virginia voters called Cuccinelli's issue positions too conservative. Only 41 percent called McAuliffe's positions too liberal.

In the end, Cuccinelli was hurt by the same tea party alliance that won him the nomination at the Virginia GOP convention earlier this year. Only 28 percent of Virginia voters said they support the tea party movement. Forty-two percent said they oppose it, and they broke for McAuliffe by more than 70 points.

And no, Cuccinelli can't blame his loss on scandal-plagued outgoing GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell or third-party libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis.

Despite his scandals, Virginia voters said they approve of McDonnell's job performance by 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent. And if Sarvis had not been in the race, exit polls indicate McAuliffe still would have beaten Cuccinelli by two points, 48 percent to 46 percent.

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