Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton currently leads Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in the delegate count, 2,313 to 1,546 according to Real Clear Politics, which puts her just 70 away from securing the Democratic nomination. So then, why is a former pollster for her husband, then-president Bill Clinton, saying that she could be replaced atop the ticket, possibly with Joe Biden, the current vice president?
There are two reasons why, Douglas Schoen, who worked for President Clinton from 1994-2000, said in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial. The first is her potential "weaknesses" as a general candidate against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
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"California is clearly trending to Mr. Sanders," Schoen writes, "and the experience in recent open primaries has been that the Vermont senator tends to underperform in pre-election surveys and over-perform on primary and caucus days, thanks to the participation of new registrants and young voters."
According to Schoen, there are nearly 1.5 million new registered voters in California since the start of 2016, and a "218% increase in Democratic voter registrations compared with the same period in 2012, a strongly encouraging sign for Mr. Sanders."
Even if Hillary Clinton can eke out a narrow victory there, Schoen said that would still mean roughly 250 delegates for Sanders. Should Sanders win, it is very likely that many superdelegates (among whom Clinton currently leads, 543-44), "would seriously question whether they should continue to stand behind her candidacy."
It is also likely, Schoen noted, that if Clinton loses in California and in the other June 7 primaries, Montana and North Dakota, and Sanders in competitive in New Jersey, the Vermont senator could move for a rules change for how superdelegates are allocated. Should it pass, that could net him about 200 delegates in his race to catch Clinton, Shoen posited.
Sanders supporters have also been quick to note that in head-to-head matchups, their candidate actually polls better against Trump than Clinton does. According to the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Clinton only leads Trump by 1.5 percent, while Sanders leads Trump by 10.4 percent.
The second reason why Hillary Clinton may not be the nominee is the ongoing F.B.I. investigation of her email server, for which she could be indicted.
"The State Department inspector general's recent report on Mrs. Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state made it abundantly clear that she broke rules and has been far from forthright in her public statements," Schoen writes.
And given this report, "a clean bill of health from the Justice Department is unlikely."
This increases the possibility of a intra-party coup, with current Secretary of State and 2004 nominee John Kerry, or more likely, Vice President Joe Biden, replacing Hillary Clinton atop the ticket, said Schoen. The Democratic Party's left wing would be placated by Biden (or Kerry) tabbing Elizabeth Warren, a darling of liberals, as his running mate.
Biden (or Kerry) would then be cast as the "white knight rescuing the party, and the nation, from a possible Trump presidency."
But is it plausible that Hillary Clinton, a very powerful figure in the Democratic Party, could be replaced?
It is, according to Andrew McCarthy of National Review, who recalled a very similar incident in 2002, when New Jersey Democrats swapped Senate candidates less than a month before the election to ensure that they held the seat, even though it went against state law.
What happened then, McCarthy recalled, was that incumbent Robert Torricelli was facing a tough re-election fight while dealing with corruption charges. So Democrats persuaded Torricelli to step down, and then placed 78-year-old Frank Lautenberg, who had retired from the Senate two years earlier, to step in. Lautenberg won handily in November.
Even though this switch went against state law, "New Jersey's solidly Democratic judiciary predictably looked the other way," McCarthy wrote.
Could the same thing happen to Hillary Clinton? Probably not, if she wins handily in California. But if she loses or its close, and if the FBI report on her emails casts a shadow on her trustworthiness, Clinton could be replaced on the Democratic Party ticket.
What do you think? Could Hillary Clinton be replaced as the Democratic nominee? And if so, who should it be?
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]