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When the dust settled after Tuesday’s Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton expanded her commanding lead over Bernie Sanders by 18 delegates. This was the political bottom line, but it wasn’t THE story, was it?

The story was that by confounding pollster expectations that Clinton would handily take Michigan, Bernie scored a huge upset. Thus, Clinton’s loss in Michigan was “shocking” and Bernie’s win “stunning,” according to The Washington Post.

Actually, the two split Michigan pretty much evenly. Bernie’s 49.8 percent victory in Michigan was no more spectacular than Hillary’s 49.9 percent win in Iowa.

We are assuming it’s the vote that matters, as opposed to the story. Bernie’s great triumph came from upending the predictions of pollsters who, obviously, weren’t doing a very good job of polling. It’s all part of a pundit-pollster complex in which the analyzers play the man behind the curtain and the voters are munchkins who serve to validate their confidently delivered predictions.

Bernie did run a strong campaign in Michigan. He wisely showed up in the smaller cities, such as Traverse City and Kalamazoo. And he profited from his simple, if simple-minded, message that trade agreements single-handedly killed thousands of factory jobs in the Rust Belt.

One can understand the anger of a worker whose employer packed up and moved to Mexico. And the North American Free Trade Agreement provides a handy explanation of why that happened.

It’s a lot harder to examine the complex dynamics of trade. Reputable economists who have studied NAFTA, including some of its critics, have concluded that the accord modestly helped the American economy on the whole.

How many of the jobs that did leave for Mexico would have otherwise gone to even-lower-wage China? And how has rising demand for U.S. products from Mexico’s growing middle class helped U.S. manufacturing?

Back to the pundits.

The herd has stampeded to the importance of “angry white working-class men,” a group with which Bernie did quite well in Michigan. And they are important. (Many Democrats have long erred in cultivating racial and ethnic identity politics at the expense of white blokes.)

At the same time, THE story could have lingered longer on Clinton’s decisive win in Mississippi, where 90 percent of that state’s large African-American electorate chose Hillary over Bernie. Black votes matter just as much as white votes, do they not?

My Bernie friends have been cross with me of late. They accuse me of being blindly in love with Hillary.

Not true. I don’t love Hillary. She exasperates me on a number of counts. Bernie is more lovable, but he bothers me more. I am suspicious of radical promises from one who couldn’t get a single senator to co-sponsor his single-payer plan. And Bernie’s scheme for funding his proposals was so off-the-wall unrealistic it left even liberal economists gasping.

I do share with my Bernie friends a fear of the Republican candidates, except (in my case) John Kasich. My Bernie people will persist in sending me polls “showing” that he could more easily defeat any of the leading Republicans in a general election than could Hillary.

What those polls really show is how well Bernie would do if he were the nominee and Republicans let his politics, writings and personal history skate into November without comment. Hillary has already been copiously dumped upon.

Really, how much stock are you going to put in an eight-months-hence prediction from the same fellows who couldn’t get Michigan right the night before? The biggest losers on Tuesday were the pollsters, for sure.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

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Photo: Bernie Sanders thrusts his fists in the air as he speaks to supporters on the night of the Michigan, Mississippi and other primaries at his campaign rally in Miami, Florida March 8, 2016.    REUTERS/Carlo Allegri    

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on CNN Sunday morning with Jake Tapper on his State of the Union show. In part because Democratic reps, like Republican reps, going on Sunday shows is about this coming election, and in part because newscasters are not particularly deep or creative when it comes to talking about politics, Tapper decided to spend a lot of time trying to get Ocasio-Cortez to attack Joe Biden for their differences of political opinions. Newsflash: Ocasio-Cortez, progressive hero, co-author of the ambitious Green New Deal environmental package, and Vice President Joe Biden aren't exactly on the same page as to how to handle climate change.

More to the point, Tapper asked Ocasio-Cortez whether or not she was bothered by the fact that Biden has not said he would outright ban fracking. The move to ban fracking in states across the country has been a seesaw battle of fossil fuel interests fighting against progressive environmentalism and science. Biden's refusal to provide full-throated support for a ban on fracking is disappointing to many of us on the left, but it isn't surprising. Even more importantly, it is below the most essential first step the progressive movement—and the country for that matter—needs to take: getting rid of Donald Trump and getting rid of the Republican majority in the Senate.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez isn't going to be pulled into a pointless argument about fracking with Jake Tapper. Her position is well-reported. So is Biden's. AOC explains very clearly that this is how politics work in a representative democracy.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: It does not bother me. I believe, and I have a very strong position on fracking. You know, the science is very clear, the methane emissions from fracking are up to 64 times more powerful than CO2 emissions and trapping heat in the air, and just from a perspective of stopping climate change there is a scientific consensus. However, that is my view. Vice President Biden has made very clear that he does not agree with the fracking ban and I consider that, you know—it will be a privilege to lobby him should we win the White House but we need to focus on winning the White House first. I am happy to make my case but I also understand he is in disagreement on that issue.

Tapper wonders whether this will depress the youth vote, a vote that AOC represents more closely than Biden. This, of course, is literally the only reason Trump and his surrogates have been bringing up this difference of positions the last couple of weeks. The hope is that it will depress the more progressive vote, while spooking some more conservative-leaning folks in fossil-fuel heavy states like Pennsylvania and Texas. Ocasio-Cortez points out that the youth vote over the past couple of years has not simply become more sophisticated since 2016, it has brought in more progressive candidates and officials into local elections. The turnout in 2018 showed that, and Ocasio-Cortez believes that this election is very clearly a choice between Donald Trump, someone who is a non-starter of a human being, and Joe Biden.

Tapper then plays a clip of Biden telling reporters that he isn't "getting rid of fossil fuels for a long time," but that he's talking about getting rid of the subsidies the fake free-marketeers enjoy in the fossil fuel industry. While Tapper is hoping that this will illustrate how Biden isn't AOC and the youth vote may be turned off by this statement, she sees it as an important step in the right direction.

REP. OCASIO-CORTEZ: When he says we are eliminating subsidies, I think that is, frankly, an important first step. A lot of folks who like to tout themselves as free market capitalists, while still trying to make sure they get as much government subsidy, and propping up of the fossil fuel industry as possible. ... If you do believe in markets, solar and renewable energies are growing less and less expensive by the day in many areas. They are starting to become less expensive than fossil fuels. When you eliminate government subsidies, it becomes more difficult for fossil fuels to compete in the market. I think while the vice president wants to make sure that he is not doing it by government mandate or regulation. I do believe that we are moving towards that future. I believe that there's a way and that we should push that process along but again, the vice president and my disagreements are, I believe, recorded and that is quite all right.