The Atlantic Politics Daily: What If No One Gets Enough Votes?

The prospect that Democrats don’t coalesce around one candidate is a nightmarish scenario for many in the party. Plus: The inside story of a climate policy SNAFU.

It’s Wednesday, February 12. On upheaval around the sudden, lighter sentence recommendation for Trump associate Roger Stone: “The administration’s rush to aid Stone, especially set against the retributive firings, shows Trump newly willing to flex his muscles,” David Graham writes.

In the rest of today’s newsletter: Let’s talk about contested conventions. Plus: How Trump boxed the EPA out of a major climate rollback.



These are two words that no Democrat wants to hear: Brokered convention.

The prospect that Democrats don’t coalesce around one particular candidate by this summer is a nightmarish scenario for many in the party. An all-out brawl for the nomination could hamper the party’s ability to take on President Trump in November.

Last night’s New Hampshire primary may have only heightened fears of a brokered convention. Bernie Sanders beat the rest of the field, narrowly, and as my colleague Ron Brownstein has pointed out, none of the candidates have assembled a broad enough coalition to snag a majority of the delegates.

1. In the neighboring state that should be favorable to him, the Vermont senator didn’t sweep. Sanders got 26 percent of the vote, the lowest ever for a Democrat winner in the state. (The previous low was Jimmy Carter, in 1976.)

2. A certain billionaire’s fundraising juggernaut is a chaos factor. My colleague Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote about how a Bernie-Bloomberg showdown could happen:

“The thought that superdelegates could cost Sanders the nomination is upsetting enough for his supporters. The thought that he could lose to the man who shut down Occupy Wall Street with a dead-of-night police raid and has been nonchalantly spending his way into the Democratic process … it’s just too much.”

3. If the brokered-convention scenario comes to pass, who will emerge as a kingmaker? Who will mediate the various factions? That role could fall to a familiar face: Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader beloved by Democrats across teh spectrum. Reid, who retired in 2017, is wrestling with a fatal cancer diagnosis that was supposed to have killed him already.

—Saahil Desai


The once novelty candidate Andrew Yang dropped out the night of the New Hampshire primary, after struggling to make any real showing once votes were cast, but also having raised more money and qualified for more debates than even some candidates still currently running.

But he’ll be behind the eventual Democratic nominee, Yang told Edward-Isaac Dovere:

“You know, I’m not a dick. Like, obviously someone like offers me something serious and impactful but we can help do some good work, I’m not going to be like, ‘Fuck that.’”

Read the full story on the end of #MATH.

+ Also notable: In quick succession, Michael Bennet and Deval Patrick have both dropped out of the Democratic race. We hardly new ye.


This is Bill Weld. He used to be the governor of Massachusetts. He’s a Republican. He’s running against Trump. Here’s what he’s up against:

Commanding more than 85 percent of the vote, Trump spun it as an unqualified victory. While it wasn’t the resounding 97 percent of the vote that Ronald Reagan carried as the incumbent in 1984, Trump won a higher percentage of the vote than Barack Obama, both George Bushes, and Bill Clinton did in their reelection primaries.

But, as Adam Harris reports from New Hampshire, Weld has a few other goals in mind.



Clean Car Catastrophe

The Trump administration’s attempt to kill one of America’s strongest climate policies has been a complete debacle. Robinson Meyer tells the inside story of this stunning boxing out of the EPA.

It was the beginning of a fiasco that could soon have global consequences. The Trump administration has since proposed to roll back the tailpipe rules nationwide, a move that, according to one estimate, could add nearly 1 billion tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere. Officials have justified this sweeping change by claiming that the new rules will save hundreds of lives a year. They are so sure of those benefits that they have decided to call the policy the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule—or SAFE, for short.

SNAFU may be a better moniker.

Read the rest.


Today’s newsletter was written by Saahil Desai, an editor on the Politics desk, and edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.

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