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Count WHOSE vote?

Paul Lukasiak runs the numbers:

Only now that Obama has a miniscule lead of 128,736 in the number of votes cast (and that includes assigning all the “uncommitted” votes in Michigan to Obama) has the media focused on total votes cast. This lead represents less than 1% (0.62%) of votes cast in the primary elections held so far, yet it is trumpeted by the media endlessly.

But, since this is actually the Democratic primary, perhaps we should look at how Democrats [i.e., not Republicans or low information voters in "open" primaries] have actually voted. Based on the available exit polling data, we find that Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead over Barack Obama in the number of votes – As of February 16, 2008, 391,992 more Democrats voted for Clinton than Obama.

In terms of actual Democratic voters, the numbers from Super Tuesday are astonishing – and were, of course, ignored by the media. Out of over 12,100,000 votes cast by Democrats that day, Clinton beat Obama by nearly 7%, and just short of 837,000 votes. And if we include all the primaries that took place before Super Tuesday (NH, SC, MI, FL) the Clinton advantage among Democrats rises to 7.5%, and well over a million votes.

As Democrats, it is our votes that should be the determining factor in a close race. We’re the voters that the party can depend on, and ignoring the will of Democratic voters can lead to Democratic voters ignoring the will of the party.

I agree. The idea that we're selecting the Democratic nominee on the basis of Republican votes gives me the creeps. Or perhaps I should say--for you old-timers--the CREEPs.

On the whole, Clinton has done far better than Obama in the swing states. In deep blue states, its been about even, but in deep red states, Obama has dominated. This raises the question of the extent to which primary voters in states where a Democratic nominee has little chance of winning should be able to determine the party’s nominee.

The Obama campaign, and now the media, are arguing that “super-delegates” aren’t supposed to determine who the nominee will be. But in a close race, who better to determine which candidate will be best for the nation, and the party, than the professional politicians and party activist who best understand how elections work.

And while legitimate arguments can be made on both sides of the “super-delegate” debate, there is simply no question that the system was not set up to allow the nominee to be chosen based in very large part on primary and caucus victories in states that Democrats aren’t truly competitive. The very idea that a 12 delegate advantage from a state like Idaho trumps an 11 delegate advantage from a swing state like New Jersey should be anathema to the party. Nor should racking up a combined 449,000 vote advantage in the “practically impossible to win” states of Georgia and Alabama be considered more important than a 416,000 vote advantage in a competitive/must-win state like California.

Yet this is exactly what the Obama campaign is arguing --- that the reality of the electorial college map should be irrelevant, and that only raw vote totals, “pledged” delegates, and the number of states won should matter to the super-delegates. And the media simply repeats this argument without question.

Surprise.

NOTE The data.

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BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I'm sure all of those cross-over voters have nothing but Democrats' best interests at heart. Except, of course for these people (http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/arch...) or this guy, (http://robertbluey.com/blog/2008/02/12/w...).

Better to nominate the guy who kicks ass among the 10,000 democratic voters in Idaho, than the woman who would probably win Florida. Florida votes don't even count in the primary, why should we care about them in November.

I could live a lot more easily with Obama as the nominee if I thought any critical thinking at all - from the electoral map to responding to GOP attacks - was going into his selection. The failure to admit Obama has weaknesses, which can be attacked by McCain and the GOP, scares the hell out of me. Because I don't think chanting "Obama is teh awesome" is going to do very much good against the GOP smear machine.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

"Because I don’t think chanting “Obama is teh awesome” is going to do very much good against the GOP smear machine."

Don't forget the media--they've been chanting "McCain is teh awesome" for decades now--it's set in stone, and tops a mere year of Obama crush.

Submitted by lambert on

Before the primaries began, everybody knew what the system was, and that some states had "open" primaries in which Republicans could vote.

So, one excellent reason to have superdelegates involved who can use their judgment (as Dr. Dean puts it), instead of having the nomination be a mechanical readout of the delegate count, would be to prevent Republicans from picking the Democratic candidate in a close race.

I mean, it's bad enough to have the press pick our nominee. But to have Republicans pick our nominee? I don't think so.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

and walk-up/instant registration,etc--

They're all very easily gamed (people were calling for Dems to vote Romney in MI, for just one example).

Our primary should be for party members only, and theirs too. I can't walk up on primary day here in NYC and vote in any primary--only the Democratic one--where i had to have already pre-registered some time before.

The General election is for open voting, not party primaries.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

...and I was just coming over here to do some blog-whoring after spending the last three and a half hours responding to comments over at Taylor's place.

And you have it exactly right -- people at talkleft seemed to think I was saying that the super-delegates should make the choice based solely on how Democrats voted. But the point was that Obama is now working the refs by demanding that super-delegates vote based on criteria favorable to him -- and IMHO, those are not the only criteria, but they are the wrong one.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I completely agree with you, lambert. There is a mechanism in place to try to ensure the democratic party doesn't drive itself - or, more accurately, allow non-democrats to drive it - off a cliff and that is the super delegate vote. Which, of course, is why there has been such a frenzy on Obama's behalf to attack the legitimacy of the Super Delegates.

The latest, btw, is to start calling pledged delegates "elected delegates." Which has the added benefit of glossing over the fact that pledged delegates aren't elected actually directly elected at all, but are allocated in the most ass-backwards way possible and do not actually correlate to the popular vote in any particular state or even, necessarily, in a Congressional District since in some districts a win of 10% nets you no more delegates than your opponent.

And to think I was wondering how the Obama campaign was going to make the argument that pledged delegates should be what counted. I know he did this after Nevada, but most folks had the indecency to note that Hillary had actually gotten more, you know, votes. But now I know that votes don't matter, only pledged delegates do because pledged delegates are elected. And everyone knows that elections are decided by votes. So even if you lose on votes, if you win on pledged delegates you have won the election and, thus, more votes.

So now I know. I always thought "the white vote is over-weighted in Nevada" or "the hispanic vote is under-weighted in Texas" might not be a winner. But elected delegates? Who could argue with that?

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

this is really striking--when the story came out about how money had been donated by Obama's and Clinton's PACs to superdelegates, the opensecrets list for 06 for Obama shows really interesting stuff--no $ to Donna Edwards or Hackett or Tasini or any others who were challenging sitting more conservative Dem incumbents that i could see (except for to Lamont after Lieberman had already lost the primary), and $ only to sitting officials no matter how they vote and only to pre-approved Schumer/Emanuel challengers for open seats that i could tell.

http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.a...

Submitted by lambert on

Axelrod really is running the primary like the general. And the loophole is the caucus system and open primaries.

Lovely. Just lovely.

Oh, and amberglow: That's the 2006 cycle, yes? So why would Donna Edwards be there? Much as I like the argument you're making.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

sane unaffiliated voter's picture
Submitted by sane unaffiliat... on

The fact of the matter is there are more independent and unaffiliated voters then democrats or republicans. Both these parties through corrupt means do everything in their power to prevent third party candidates. The only way it is a viable for a third party candidate is if you have a incredibly wealthy person like a Perot and now possibly a Bloomberg.

Hopefully the solution will a much needed additional third party that will come into the fray similar to what has happened in the UK. If you don't want unaffiliated voters voting in your primary, tell the DNC to stop conspiring with the RNC to maintain the present corrupt two party system, which both parties want.

I don't understand why anybody that truly believes in a democracy would believe in closed primaries that shut out a majority of the population.

As far as republicans voting, in a democratic primary, that I agree would be wrong. That would be unfair and slant what the true intentions might be, as republicans might vote to put up the worst candidate for president, so the republicans would win. But I believe that essentially is already the case in all 50 states?? I don't believe that you are allowed to vote in both primaries? Could be wrong on that.

Shouldn't the long-term goal to be to increase voter participation, regardless of whether you are registered with a party?? I would hope there is some sort of idealism in some of you?

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

election in November, as long as they meet the requirements to be on the ballot.

Party primaries exist to specifically give registered Party members the choice as to who will represent the Party in the General Election.

I wouldn't dream of telling the GOP who to nominate--it's not my party and not my choice to make.

That we have a 2-party dominant system hasn't stopped people from voting for 3rd-party candidates in any way--from Anderson to Nader to Perot, etc, just in the recent past. None of those names were choices in the 2 party primaries nor should they have been. If you can't bother to pre-register for one of the parties, wait til the general election to make your choice. You shouldn't be participating in a party primary unless you've committed to a party.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

As a proud descendent of this noble, brave, historically critical tribe, I must object to the casual diminishment implied by your negative allusion to our traditional cuisine. Just because lutefisk tastes like fermented fish soaked in dishwasher detergent (oddly enough, because it is fermented fish soaked in dishwasher detergent) is no excuse for using it as a tool of mockery and derision.

Pasty white people have feelings too.

Submitted by lambert on

Closed primaries == fascism.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

Yes, lambert, I agree completely. I've said this the whole time, actually.

Obama has run this as a General election race from the beginning. It's his only option. He had no chance of winning with only Democratic voters, none.

The demographics of the base do not favor him. He's using caucuses and open primaries in smaller states to his advantage. While that's not a bad thing in itself, it has the possible side-effect of turning off the base itself. The Reagan comments are a perfect example. They add to his vote count and may even add a few Democratic voters to the rolls, but they don't add loyal Democratic voters. And the loyal voters, like my mom, get really angry about this.

Now it can be argued that being loyal to the Democratic party is part of the problem. But I haven't really seen much of that from Democratic leadership in my lifetime, to be honest (I'm 37). So I can't say the evidence is there. It certainly is claimed it's there. But we know how that came about.

What's funny is that I have liberal friends who support Obama, thinking that Clinton is too centrist. But Obama is building a center-right coalition with some various leftists in the mix. Who will get sold out first?

He's using the classical 'median voter model' but approaching it from an unorthodox strategy, at least in comparison to previous Democrats.

Sure, he may be closer to the middle than his opponents. But he's closer to McCain than he is Clinton on that scale.

It's galling.

I may be winning, but that's cold comfort.

phat

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

"it may be winning"

phat

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Which is way up from three and that was way, way up from zero. Doesn't "anything you don't like" = fascism? Huh. Wonder what it does mean? Wonder how one might find out?

Apparently breaking nonsense down into smaller and smaller packets doesn't improve coherence. Who knew?

sane unaffiliated voter's picture
Submitted by sane unaffiliat... on

Thank you phat for an excellent post. Very interesting analysis. I take it that you are a Clinton supporter? If that is true why do you think your fellow democratic friends are not correct in supporting Obama? Specifically what issues do you think she is superior on? If you are interested in a general election, has Obama not already demonstrated that he is a better general election candidate??

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

Obama has not demonstrated that he can win a general election. He has demonstrated that he can win low Democratic registration states in Democratic primaries and caucuses.

In terms of policy proposals, the differences aren't especially wide. But in terms of health-care, which is especially important to me, he has taken a move to the right so as not to scare the Libertarian wing of the Republican party that he has been courting.

He is building his mandate on those sorts of positions.

It has little to do with policy, or even principle. It's based on bum-rushing Democratic caucuses using rhetoric that is not Democratic or even centrist rhetoric. And he's taking advantage of leadership in states with weak Democratic parties by offering them something they haven't had in a long time, his presence.

He's a very clever pol.

My arguments with my left-wing friends isn't about policy, as much. It's about their inability to see that he is not a leftist. Even if he is, he won't be allowed to be if elected because his mandate is based on something other than left-wing rhetoric or even center-left rhetoric. What happens when this plays out and my friends don't get what they want out of the deal? And certainly, they will be the first thrown under the bus when push comes to shove.

He's tied his own hands.

phat

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

"Oh, and amberglow: That’s the 2006 cycle, yes? So why would Donna Edwards be there? Much as I like the argument you’re making."

She ran and almost won--without DC Dem backing--in 06:

"In 2006, long-time progressive activist and public interest lawyer, Donna Edwards shocked seven-term Congressman Albert Wynn, losing to him by just three points in the Maryland Democratic primary. ..." -- http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion?pi...

A whole bunch of anti-Iraq and progressive Dems ran against sitting Dems in 06.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

According to Center for Responsive Politics (link - http://www.capitaleye.org/inside.asp?ID=335), Obama spent more money in Florida than any other candidate, Democrat or Republican. So can someone explain to me why it's unfair to him to count those votes?

Although the Democrats weren't able to earn delegates in Michigan or Florida, because the states scheduled early primaries without the national party's blessing, the hopefuls still spent nearly $3.4 million in those states. Hillary Clinton and Obama each spent about $130,000 in Michigan while Obama spent $1.3 million in Florida—more than any other Democratic candidate and more than eight Republican candidates, who were eligible to win delegates from the state.

sane unaffiliated voter's picture
Submitted by sane unaffiliat... on

In response to Phat, I guess I have to agree since Obama has successfully courted me and I think of myself as a liberterian. Seems like a very good strategy considering that the neocons have taken over the republican party, unfortunately.

As far as strategy, I think Obama has more base support then you are giving him credit for. Ted Kennedy endorsing him certainly would indicate that in my opinion. As far as electability we will have to wait and see. I have to admit I can't prove it, but I would think that Obama would put state's in play that otherwise were not in the past based on the primaries. States like New York and California are going to go democratic regardless of who is the candidate, so the fact that Obama does seem to have more red state appeal, one could argue that he could turn a state or two blue this election.

In response to Amber you do make a good point, but sometime the registration deadlines seem a bit drastic. One voter could be influenced by a candidate and then find out the deadline has passed. I would like to see more people becoming politically informed. If more people were informed I don't think a Bush presidency ever would have happened (at the very least the 2nd term) The Lousiana Republican caucuses were completely botched as they went off voter lists from November 1st, even though there was a November 30th deadline for registration. Many voters that had registered in time, were disenfranchised.

As far as Hilary I must admit it is not as much about policy as not liking the candidate personally. The Clinton's are fiscal conservatives, and even though I don't approve of their tactics I must admit they will be a hell of an improvement from the last 7 years. But I believe Obama would be the best by far. I was a big McCain fan in 2000, but he is not as appealing to me now, because of his foreign policy positions.

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

Anyway.

There isn't a lot of evidence that Obama has Democratic base support more than Clinton. There's more evidence that Clinton has more Democratic base support.

Whose party is this anyway?

Apparently it's now the Obama party.

Or it's the center-right-libertarian (but not whacko Paulian) party.

Or maybe it's the anti-Hillary, but not so anti-Hillary as the Republican party?

Ted Kennedy's endorsement is not representative of party base support. It's representative of something quite different.

Obama can't put any more states into play than Hillary. And if it comes down to not seating Florida delegates, well, that's one fewer states on his part.

phat

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

Sane, I think you may have confirmed all of my worst fears, thank-you.

I'll just drink my beer now.

phat

Submitted by lambert on

... and jumping onto the ship next door that's not sinking.

I'm so glad the Republicans are picking my candidate for me. And I understand completely why they think he's better.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

/makes note not to post late at night/

devastating thread. so much material here that some people are going to need to be reminded of, a few months or years from now. anyway, amber- thanks for pointing out that Donna did run, and goddamn i posted on it here, in 06. who supported her? who got the word out? who worked for her and with her in the media? the blogosphere. if you want to know who is real, and who is just getting on the bandwagon now, go back and look who was talking about, and working for/with, donna in 06. that will show you who is a "real progressive."

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

they pull me back in!" /pacino/

seriously. i hate you people. i keep saying to myself, 'today, i'm not going to read a lot about obama.' and then you post these threads, with all these really informative, important, underdiscussed data points, and i can't help it. /homer simpson sound/

koshembos's picture
Submitted by koshembos on

Although Paul Lukasiak is providing the formal and hard hitting numbers, the fact that Democrats prefer Clinton has been obvious and actually reports right after Super Tuesday.

Obama wins in rigged caucuses, don't underestimate Axerlrod's ultra Rovian talents, among independents and cross votes. (I don't believe he wins with the cross dressers, however.) So, it's quite visible that Obama is the big pretender.

As for Lambert comment on Rove. It became clear awhile ago, that before the epiphany and "he is the one" Obama's campaign was modeled after Bush's 2000 one. The change, the uniter, the Clinton hate, the guy to drink beer with, etc.

Submitted by lambert on

There you go, koshembos.

For whatever it may be worth, Hillary is NOT doing that.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

I have to disagree that Obama is running a "general election" strategy. The most salient aspect of a general election is that everything happens on one day -- and every state is winner take all.

If you look at the electoral votes from states on Super Tuesday, among states with 10 or more votes, Clinton got 134 to Obama's 57. Clinton got 30 more from smaller states, for a total of 164. THAT is a "general election" strategy...doing well in the big states -- especially the ones that Democrats have to carry, or at least can be competitive in.

Obama's strategy has been to remain competitive by focussing on states that Democrats should pretty muh ignore in the general election in order to remain viable over time throughout the campaign.

And, in terms of winning the nomination, Obama's strategy has been brilliant -- but it bears no relation to the kind of strategy that wins general elections, and that is the real test in my book.

Submitted by lambert on

You're right, I'm wrong!

I had the "appealing to Republicnas and independents" thing in mind, but that's happening in the states we can ignore. Sigh.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

I suppose it's not truly a general election strategy aside from the.

Good point.

phat