Tad Devine’s Domino Theory of Victory

Tad Devine is a bright guy. But put him in a game of dominos and he’ll probably lose.

So when the top advisor for the Bernie Sanders’ campaign floats a set of unrealistic hypotheticals as a path to the Democratic nomination, we have to question his lucidity.

A few minutes ago on the Rachel Maddow Show, Devine outlined his domino theory path to the nomination –  a thesis based on three interwoven requirements for Bernie Sanders.

  1. Win more states
  2. Win more pledged delegates
  3. Show the Democrats that Sanders can beat the GOP nominee and, the unspoken fourth action,
  4. Persuade super delegates to flip and cast their lot with Sanders

Let’s look at each.

Win More States

There are 16 states still to cast a vote for a Democratic nominee. Next Tuesday, five will go to the polls. In three of the five, Nate Silver has projected Hillary Clinton as the winner by huge margins.

  • Connecticut: Clinton 90% / Sanders 10%
  • Maryland: Clinton 98% / Sanders 2%
  • Pennsylvania: Clinton 92% / Sanders 8%

A fresh Gravis poll puts Clinton as the favored nominee in Delaware, also among the April 26 line-up. Another four states vote during the month of May and then the final seven in the first two weeks of June. In delegate-rich California, Silver gives Clinton high (81%) odds of winning.

Only one state, North Dakota, holds a caucus, where Sanders performs well. Yet it comes up late in the calendar on June 7.

If Nate Silver’s projections are to be trusted, then there is likely to be another string of victories for Hillary Clinton during April. She has the wind at her back, the enthusiasm of the Democratic Party and ten million voters propelling her to the nomination.

Apply Newton’s laws of motion to Clinton’s current status (along with polling and popular votes) and the nomination is certain to be in her grasp. On the other hand, Team Sanders is lolling in anger; there’s a whole lot of motion without movement. His campaign is in a state of inertia. The momentum needed to pull out of this slow death spiral defies physics and reality.

Win More Delegates

If he cannot win the popular vote starting with the April 26 primaries, then Bernie Sanders will have no significant increase in delegates. Math is math. Listen to any network news, read any reliable publication and the consensus is the same – Bernie must garner somewhere around 60% of the vote to make a dent in Clinton’s significant delegate lead.

Here’s the bottom line for Sanders as mapped by Nate Silver:

  • April 26 – Sanders must earn 189 delegates
  • May 3 – Sanders must earn 44 delegates
  • May 10 – Sanders must earn 17 delegates
  • May 17 – Sanders must earn 65 delegates
  • Jun 7 – Sanders must earn 354 delegates
  • Jun 14 – Sanders must earn 8 delegates

|See State Delegate Designations Below|

If he misses his delegate goal on the next round of states, then Sanders has no likelihood of winning Devine’s domino game.

Game Over

If Bernie Sanders cannot meet his delegate targets or bring in the lions’ share of votes on 26 April, then the domino game is over. The Democratic convention will nominate Hillary Clinton. The idea of flipping super delegates and ignoring the choice of voters is a moot point.

Already, Sanders has strained the goodwill of the Democratic Party. David Plouffe, President Obama’s campaign manager in 2008 and current Uber chief, went so far as to denounce him as a fraud.

Tad Devine is as deeply invested in the Democratic Party as David Plouffe. One might speculate that Plouffe’s tweet is a covert message from Obama. Regardless, “fraud” is an indictment not to be taken lightly.

Will Devine continue the game and put his career in jeopardy or pack up his tiles and walk away?

State Delegate Designations

Apr 26

Delaware · 21 delegates
Connecticut · 55 delegates
Rhode Island · 24 delegates
Maryland · 95 delegates
Pennsylvania · 189 delegates

May 3

Indiana · 83 delegates

May 10

West Virginia · 29 delegates

May 17

Kentucky · 55 delegates
Oregon · 61 delegates

Jun 7

North Dakota 18 delegates
California 475 delegates
Montana 21 delegates
New Jersey 126 delegates
New Mexico 34 delegates
South Dakota< 20 delegates

Jun 14

Washington, D.C. 20 delegates


  1. It couldn’t be more clear, yet Sanders is in Pennsylvania today with rallies and Town Halls, blustering for the improbable. He’s had four decades of practicing all talk, no action, but his force of personality isn’t shaking itself free of entitlement anytime soon.


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