Hillary Clinton already thinks she has the Presidential election in the bag.
But while she’s been picking out drapes for the Oval Office, a small group of Bernie Sanders supporters have been quietly registering Bernie as an official write-in candidate in key states, hoping to get enough of a grassroots groundswell to deny Clinton the 270 electoral votes she needs to become President.
The operation, known online as #OpDeny270, is a social media driven campain to ensure Bernie supporters have an opportunity to use their combined political effort to punish the Democratic Party for denying their candidate the nomination.
The theory is that, if more than 20 states voted for Bernie in the primaries, there’s enough of a base of support to turn one state. The goal is to deny Clinton as many states as possible, so that the electoral college comes out a draw and Congress must decide the next President. A win in Vermont would give Sanders three electoral votes.
So far, the effort is struggling, but #OpDeny27 has Bernie slated for approved write-ins in seven states. Aside from voters in the two target states of Vermont, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington, #OpDeny270 is asking progressives to commit to the Green Party ticket.
— Melissa Bates (@magmaticmelissa) October 5, 2016
Combined with Jill Stein’s ballot access, that gives progressives a significant boost in opportunity to protest Hillary Clinton en masse.
This kind of insurrection is tricky. If progressives target the wrong states, they could end up throwing a safe set of Clinton electoral college votes to Donald Trump. If they fail to secure major blue states, they’ll appear as a weak contingent – an argument against including them in any coalitions going forward.
But if they stick to a handful of achievable states and run a focused, local campaign, they may have more success. With 174 electoral votes still in the “toss up” category, chances increase.
Unfortunately for Sanders’s supporters, one part of their operating strategy may be fatally flawed. Sanders won states like Wyoming in primary caucuses, which favor motivated grassroots supporters, but don’t necessarily reflect the will of a wide swath of voters. So focusing on states like Wyoming for electoral votes might be tricky.
They also assume that Bernie Sanders could be the third highest electoral vote-getter in a contested election. While Sanders may be the second highest Democrat, Independent candidates like Evan McMullin have also targeted single states – in his case Utah – in an effort to upend the electoral system. Utah has six electoral college votes, to Bernie’s theoretical three.
But given the week’s revelations from the Clinton campaign, via Wikileaks, it’s hard to argue that Bernie Sanders’s supporters shouldn’t do what they can to make their voices heard.