After a massive win in New Jersey and significant leads in South Dakota and New Mexico, Hillary Clinton is expected to win a majority of pledged delegates Tuesday night, far surpassing the threshold needed to win the Democratic Party nomination this July. Barring an unexpected upset at the convention, she will become the first woman in the history of the United States to represent a major political party.
Clinton is claiming the mantle of the presumptive nominee, but the campaign is not over for her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Because Clinton’s grand total includes superdelegates — party elites who vote however they choose on the day of the convention — Sanders has pledged to focus on flipping those superdelegates by the time they vote in July.
Should Sanders’ attempt fail, however, he would not walk away from the hard-fought primary unaccomplished. Over the course of his more than year-long campaign, the groundswell of support for his progressive stances have helped push Clinton to the left on a number of issues, from economic inequality to the environment and trade. Pressure from Sanders and his supporters helped force Clinton to embrace more progressive positions throughout her primary campaign.
Clinton’s shift to the left is also reflective of a more progressive Democratic Party. According to a Pew survey last year, the percentage of Democrats who identify as liberal is greater than the percentage who consider themselves moderate for the first time ever. To secure the nomination of a party that is more progressive than it has been in decades, Clinton had to evolve on a number of her more centrist positions and had to embrace positions to the left of President Obama and her husband.
Here are some of the key policy areas where Clinton has shifted since Sanders entered the fray — and a few where she’s stood firm, despite pressure.
Where she’s shifted
It was a long summer for Clinton when it came to Keystone XL, the controversial proposed 1,179-mile pipeline that would have carried tar sands crude oil from Canada down to the Gulf coast.
Clinton for months refused to say whether or not she supported the project, reasoning that her former position at the State Department — which oversaw the approval process — put her in a conflicted position. She would wait until President Obama made his final decision before making hers, she said.
Meanwhile, Sanders continually pressured Clinton on the issue. In speech after speech, he called on Obama to reject Keystone XL primarily because of its contributions to human-caused climate change, indrectly highlighting his policy difference with the former secretary of state.
Finally, in September — two months before Obama eventually rejected the pipeline — Clinton came out and opposed the project, which she called a “distraction from the important work we have to do on climate change.”
Sanders has long said he supports a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage. Clinton, on the other hand, launched her campaign calling for a boost to the minimum wage, but would not commit to the $15 number. In a town hall meeting in Iowa last November, she said she supported a $12 minimum wage on the federal level, but would allow cities and states to set higher floors if they had local support.
“If not, $12 can give us a good, solid increase,” she said at the time, adding that a higher federal minimum would risk job losses.
But then in April, as Sanders became more of a threat to Clinton’s campaign and as he continued to inspire progressive crowds by calling for a higher boost for low-wage workers, Clinton appeared to change her position. During a debate in New York, a moderator asked Clinton if as president, she would sign $15 minimum wage legislation if it reached her desk.
“Well of course I would,” Clinton replied. “I have supported the Fight for $15,” she continued, before Sanders pointed out the contradiction.
Anger against Wall Street and the wealthy who profit there has been a defining feature in the 2016 campaign, and no one has tapped into it more effectively than Sanders.
How Bernie Sanders And Hillary Clinton Differ On Wall StreetPolitics by CREDIT: AP Photo/Jim Cole Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) unveiled a comprehensive financial reform plan in a…thinkprogress.orgThe Vermont senator won over voters across the country by attacking the U.S. banking system for creating profit for a few at the expense of the many, and by promising if elected to break up and forcefully regulate Wall Street’s financial giants.
Clinton, who has taken millions in donations from Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers and who previously made hundreds of thousands of dollars giving private speeches to big banks, has not fared as well on this issue. In response to attempts to paint her as too cozy with Wall Street, she unveiled an aggressive regulatory plan that would make it easier to prosecute and jail individual bankers and would impose a tax on Wall Street speculation — both policies Sanders has long demanded.
Pressure from the party’s populist wing has also pushed Clinton to call for higher taxes on the rich, their inherited wealth, their investments, and their corporate profits. Echoing Sanders’ repeated calls for the nation’s millionaires and billionaires to “pay their fare share” in taxes, Clinton made a “fair share surcharge” tax of 4 percent on multi-millionaires a central piece of her platform.
Clinton began the 2016 race as a staunch supporter of President Obama’s trade agenda, including the controversial, long-debated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a massive free trade deal the United States recently negotiated with 11 other nations. As Secretary of State, she repeatedly and forcefully defended the TPP while it was still being negotiated, saying it “holds out great economic opportunities to all participating nations” and promising it would create “better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions” around the world.
Sanders, meanwhile, came out swinging against the deal, calling it a gift to large corporations that will encourage the outsourcing of American jobs to lower wage countries overseas. Sanders has vowed to do all he can to prevent the Senate from ratifying the agreement.
Anti-free trade fervor gripped both the left and the right as both Sanders and Donald Trump told cheering crowds that such deals can be devastating to American workers. In October, Clinton joined them, officially declaring her opposition to the TPP. She specifically cited concerns about the deal’s impact on the price of medicine around the world and it’s lack of protections against outsourcing U.S. jobs.
Clinton added that a lot of trade agreements “look great on paper” but don’t end up having the desired result, citing the South Korea free trade agreement enacted under President Obama while she was Secretary of State. “Looking back on it, it hasn’t had the results we thought it would have in terms of access to the markets, more exports, et cetera,” she told PBS.
For much of the primary, Clinton resisted calls from Sanders to join him in supporting a single-payer health care system, one the Vermont senator likes to call “Medicare for all.”
Clinton And Sanders Clash Over Path To Universal Health CareHealth by CREDIT: AP Photo/Jim Cole As the leading Republican presidential candidates are busy offering incoherent…thinkprogress.orgBut then in May, she took a significant step to the left when she said that people should have the option to buy into Medicare.
“I’m also in favor of what’s called the public option, so that people can buy into Medicare at a certain age,” she said at a Virginia campaign event. She then explained that people “55 or 50 and up” could be given the option to join the program, which currently is reserved for Americans over 65. Clinton suggested that allowed more adults to purchase Medicare could lower insurance costs for younger Americans.
During the 2008 election, Clinton said she would not raise taxes on the wealthy in order to increase funds for Social Security — a statement that many interpreted as a willingness to cut the program. Sanders, meanwhile, has insisted that Social Security be expanded and has introduced legislation in Congress to do just that.
Clinton has solidified her support for the program and expressed willingness to lift the cap on payroll taxes to fund it. “I have said repeatedly… I am going to make the wealthy pay into Social Security to extend the Social Security Trust Fund,” she said during a debate in April. “That is one way. If that is the way that we pursue, I will follow that.”
Even before that, she appeared to respond to Sanders’ steadfast support for Social Security by promising she would not cut it:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 6, 2016
Drilling For Oil In The Arctic
At the beginning of the Democratic presidential race, it seemed both Sanders and Clinton were on equal footing when it came to drilling for oil in America’s Arctic Ocean. Both had cast votes during their time in the Senate to ban drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife, but neither were saying much about the practice.
As the campaign wore on, however, President Obama began to move forward with a plan to allow Shell Oil to explore for oil there. At that point, Sanders upped his rhetoric against Arctic drilling. In May, he openly expressed “deep disappointment” with the administration. “The last thing our environment needs is more drilling,” he said.
Clinton initially stayed mum, likely because she supported issuing permits to Shell to drill in the Arctic during her time as Obama’s secretary of state. “We seek to pursue these opportunities in a smart, sustainable way that preserves the Arctic environment and ecosystem,” then-Secretary Clinton said in 2011.
Eventually, however, Clinton changed her position. In August — literally one day after Obama gave final approval to Shell to begin drilling off the coast of Alaska — Clinton tweeted that the Arctic was a “unique treasure” that should not be subjected to the risk of drilling.
The Arctic is a unique treasure. Given what we know, it's not worth the risk of drilling. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 18, 2015
Where she’s stood firm
Clinton reiterated her support for the death penalty during a March town hall, saying that she believes it can be held “in reserve” for certain, limited federal crimes like mass shootings and terrorism.
The position distinguishes her from many prominent Democrats, including Sanders, who said last October that “the state, in a democratic, civilized society, should not itself be involved in the murder of other Americans.” Clinton’s position also distinguishes her from a majority of the Democrat electorate — just 40 percent of Democrats support capital punishment, and it is likely that Clinton will be the last Democratic presidential candidate to support the practice.
Is Hillary Clinton The Last Democratic Presidential Candidate To Support The Death Penalty?In 1977, two years after he was convicted of robbing a shoe store and stabbing a clerk to death, 22-year-old Henry…thinkprogress.org
Despite pressure from both Sanders and environmentalists, Clinton is not currently advocating for a national price on carbon, whether that be a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. Carbon pricing — the idea that businesses should pay for the amount of carbon they emit — is a way to encourage traditionally high emitters to stop putting so much carbon into the atmosphere, thereby tackling climate change. In addition, the money made from a carbon price is generally put into climate change mitigation efforts.
Clinton’s reluctance to advocate for a carbon tax may be because she doesn’t believe it will gain traction with a Republican Congress. That’s at least what her adviser John Podesta seemed to indicate in comments reported last month by Scientific American. “I’d like to see a price on carbon, but I’m more optimistic about persuading Congress to support more investment in clean energy, more investment in energy efficiency, more investment in research and development,” Podesta said.
Sanders’ climate plan explicitly calls for a national carbon tax.
On the environmental end, Clinton has also not heeded calls from Sanders to support a national ban on hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. During fracking, companies inject high-pressure streams of water, sand, and chemicals underground to crack shale rock and dislodge hard-to-reach oil and gas reserves. Fracking has fueled an increase in natural gas use in the United States and contributed to the decline of coal — but it also poses environmental concerns, including air and water contamination and methane leaks which exacerbate climate change.
While Sanders is calling for a complete and total ban on fracking, Clinton has said she supports the practice — but only if certain conditions are met. She opposes fracking in cases where local communities don’t want it, where it causes pollution; and when fracking companies don’t disclose the chemicals they use.
“By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” she said.