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Responding to Paul on the Primary Process

chicago dyke's picture

I have to do this quickly, but here are some thoughts that spring from this post Paul was gracious enough to inspire.

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 is the sound of CD blowing a gasket. Not with Paul, but with the whole idea that "uncommitted" must mean Obama. Dammit, does anyone care that Edwards, who came in 2nd in Iowa and at that time that 'meant something' to primary participants, was not on the ballot? Or that votes for him would not be counted, even write-ins? Why is this no longer a valid question under discussion as the "votes" in MI are or are not counted/alloted? No, I will not "just get over" disenfranchisement, and anyway, you should care that people like me voted in the Republican primary as you 'figure out' what the Dem primary vote count "means."

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.

If progressives take away one thing from this season's follies, it's that the dominant DNC electoral "logic" has nothing to do with winning elections, especially general elections. The DNC, and from what I can tell the OFB and HRC camps, detest Dean and his "50 state strategy" for a reason. Too many messy Dem voters expressing their will and all that. The DNC majors don't care what we think. More importantly, they'll do anything they can to keep us from participating in a meaningful way.

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.

And next time around, the system will be gamed to favor someone using a different analysis of 'what superdelagates are for' and 'what state victory counts mean' and so on. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the party system has never been remotely "democratic." If it's not this kind of tortured logic, it's some other brake on the democratic process in favor of insider priority. Seems to me that progressives should accept this and move on. As in, get serious about a "50 state" strategy of primary reform and couple it to a progressive "primary challenge 'em!" strategy for '10 and '12. Or get Evil, and learn how to work it better because it likely is the closest we'll get to "democracy." Your call, or we can complain some more.

Busting into the comments, cause they were so damned good, like this:

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.

It's hard to disagree with that, even as it makes my blood boil. I hatehatehate the idea that we need 'nanny supervoters' to "help us pick the right one." At the same time, I have that nagging sense of Zen; have previous pols and players figured out that such an undemocratic tool is required or worse travesties will replace it? I honestly can't decide.

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...

...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.

That's some Ju-Jitsu, my Brother. Really can't say it any better than that. /respectful bow of grasshopper/

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)

All my bells went off here. Blogging progressives should stop and have a moment of "hmmmm" with that one.

I had this thought, it may be dumb. So to the argument, "there are more Indies and undeclareds than partisans, so we should have open primary voting so they get a say." OK, it's an argument I can feel. So how about we have primary voting that also registers how the voter voted in the last general? That data is actually already available in the public record, iirc, and our New Computer Videopoker Voting systems should make it easy to compile in any case, right?

It should be a simple matter to enumerate primary totals and differentiate between who previously voted for Democrats and who didn't, and award the sum of the former to candidates accordingly.

We are not dealing with "fair and democratic process." What is our response? It's very clear to me, and gosh I hate the way this sounds Naydaresque, but I don't really think it matters "what the voters say." Not this time around, perhaps ever? I'm not old enough to be sure. One thing keeps plauging me. How could a fairly young guy, who hasn't really held office for that long nor proven to have a non-campaign based base, get this far this fast? Because 'some people' want him to, that's why. I note: his "race" is almost beside the point, except that it camouflages other, more important elements about him.

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Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

The reason why I treated all the uncommitted delegate in Michigan as "Obama" votes was because I didn't want to be accused of being unfair to Obama -- I preferred to 'bend over backwards' in his favor to avoid that criticism, because I knew that the numbers would still favor Clinton.

And as an aside, the exit polls from Michigan

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/primari... (go to page 2)

included the category "Vote if All Candidates Were On Ballot." The results from that gave Clinton 46%, Obama 35%, Edwards 12%, Kucinich 2% and Richardson 1%. (I didn't use this data because there was no way to determine how the Democratic vote was distributed within those votes.)

emptywheel's picture
Submitted by emptywheel on

Are likely to get a disproportionate share of "uncommitted."

Since MI weights towards those CDs that don't perform as well democratically (that is, CD 15 gets 6 delegates whereas CD 3 with a fraction of the Dem voters gets 5), it means that the three CDs that you would suspect have more Obama support (CDs 13, 14, and 15) get proportionally fewer delegates WRT Dem turnout. While I suspect all or most of their uncommitted delegates would go Obama, I would expect that Edwards and Hillary supporters should be able to clean up in some of the other CDs).

Which is not to say it's fair or unfair (which kind of supports your larger point). Just that March 29 may well be an interesting fight, particularly if MI's delegates are to be seated.

markg8's picture
Submitted by markg8 on

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.

Relying only on Democrats has lost us the last two presidential elections. I welcome with open arms voters who hate what Republicans have done to this country and am not going to excoriate them for taking so long to wise up.

Regardless of that what you call for is apparently exactly what will happen in TX and why Hillary could win the popular vote there and get fewer delegates. Their delegates are awarded more heavily by state senate districts that turn out reliably for Dems in general elections. The black vote in TX does that. The Hispanics Hillary has been courting for a year evidently have voted more Republican in the general. According to the WaPo her campaign was stunned to learn this recently just after Super Tuesday.

I suppose if she has the support of the party machine like she did in NV she could try and have
them slam the caucus doors shut early like she did in Vegas and disenfranchise thousands of voters. I doubt that would work again, the Obama campaign isn't likely to let it happen twice. She could have them miscount the votes like NYC or come up with a double bubble ballot like Los Angeles to claim a double digit victory on election night and then complain that she was robbed when the mess is straightened out, the votes actually totaled up and delegates awarded.

The party leaders in MI and FL knew what would happen if they moved their primaries up and they suffered the consequences. Your beef is with them. IA and NH get a lot of attention and a big pot of gold from all those political "tourists", $4 billion for NH alone this cycle. I suppose MI and FL wanted a piece of that pie. Can hardly blame them. I'd like to see Dean sit down with everybody right after the election and come up with a better plan. After seeing how poorly NH runs their elections and how laughable their ballot integrity is I'd like to see them penalized unless the cheap bastards start following their own election laws.

Obama spent the whole election season in 2006 campaigning and raising money all over the country for Democratic candidates when we really could have used him in IL. The day before the election he did give a rousing speech in the Chicago burbs for our candidates. He made a good commercial for Duckworth
but it was playing defense against Roskam's slime.

Hillary spent $30 million beating Rick Lazio in NY.
It took $30 million to beat Rick Lazio? Remember the blog push to get safe seat senators and congressmen to pony up some of their cash for our candidates late in the campaign? I wonder how much Hillary shelled out. She still had $10 million to shift to her presidential warchest last winter. There's a recent study that shows Obama's PAC has given by a 4 to 1 margin more to super delegates campaigns than Hillary's but I don't know if it's just this cycle or not. That's smart politics and works toward building that huge landslide we need. Hillary's campaign seems to think these people owe the Clintons instead of the other way around. Not gonna engender SD loyalty that way or win seats in the house and senate.

So how about we have primary voting that also registers how the voter voted in the last general?

How democratic! Ever heard of the secret ballot? Rethink this one. There's nothing on those machines
or paper ballots that identifies you. You identify yourself with your signature in most states (as it should be) when you request a ballot. That's it. The vote you cast is secret.

I voted for five pledged delegates by name with the candidate's name they are pledged to next to it Illinois. Those folks had to meet petition signature thresholds to get on the ballot as delegates for their candidates. Don't know how it works in other states but that's the way it ought to be.

How could a fairly young guy, who hasn’t really held office for that long nor proven to have a non-campaign based base, get this far this fast?

Obama has held elected office for 11 years, longer than Hillary. Voters overwhelmingly say they want change, big change from the past. While Hillary was touting her "experience" and inevitability they looked to the guy who not only said he'd bring that change but is the embodiment of it. Why do you think the Repubs are so terrified of him? He's not only taking Hillary's votes and voters away from her but taking theirs too. Do you really think any Democratic nominee is going to lose states Hillary won like NY, NJ, CA, or MA this year? Obama's popularity is only surprising to people who have never seen Obama run before. The man not only gives a great speech, he's as good or better at policy wonkery than Bill Clinton and knows how to win a race. Hillary might be his match at policy wonkism, but isn't a particularly good speaker and has failed dismally in her choices for campaign aides, relying heavily on cronyism and loyalty instead of competence.

Because ’some people’ want him to, that’s why. I note: his “race” is almost beside the point, except that it camouflages other, more important elements about him.

More people have voted for him, he's won almost twice as many states, won more pledged delegates and apparently is winning more super delegates than anybody else. He's done it by playing by the rules
as they were laid out. He didn't try to change the rules at the last minute by lawsuit to disenfranchise college kids in IA. He didn't try to change the rules at the last minute by lawsuit to disenfranchise casino workers and he didn't have his people slam the caucus doors shut early in Vegas. He didn't try to disenfranchise independent voters in Los Angeles county (1/3 of the CA electorate are independents) with a ballot that confused everybody including the election judges and he doesn't have his supporters fighting against having a couple hundred thousand of them counted. He doesn't have his advisers sneering that states he didn't win and their voters don't really count. He and Edwards took their names off the ballot in MI and didn't fly into FL the night before the primary to clamor for their votes. There were no precincts in Chicago that showed zero votes for Hillary on election night and 116 a week later. That happened in dozens of places in NYC.

But that's Hillary. She'd like to win the nomination by giving the choice to a smaller party made up of her supporters only. Apparently she thinks playing fair and smart won't win it for her.
Better to surround herself with boobs like Penn, Wolfson and Solis Doyle who spent her days watching soap operas in her office instead of returning phonecalls from big money donors. Her top 5 advisers stovepiped what they wanted her to hear and shit on anybody below them who tried to help avert disaster in IA. She wonders why the rest of her staff had nothing to say on that conference call the day after. If she manages to get the nomination with this mess of a campaign and their heavy handed tactics it will cripple the party. You can say hello to four more years of Republican rule. No thanks.

Submitted by lambert on

Yawn. Everything except a majority of Democrats in a Democratic primary. Feh.

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

markg8's picture
Submitted by markg8 on

Another one of your fact free posts. If you can't find anything you like about the likely nominee of the party why don't you spend your time writing about McCain? I can't recall anything positive you've written about anyone lately. Bitching seems to be your hobby and the one trick you have. Why not put it to use on someone we all agree is worth bitching about?

Submitted by lambert on

Thank you for commenting, markg8. Your comment is very important to us. Please do not hesitate to comment again.

[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 suppose if she has the support of the party machine like she did in NV she could try and have
them slam the caucus doors shut early like she did in Vegas and disenfranchise thousands of voters.

MarkG8

the rules for the Nevada caucuses said that you had to be there by 11:30 -- that's when the caucuses began. (IIRC, its on page 53 of the official caucus rules put out by the Nevada democratic party--feel free to look it up yourself, because I can't be bothered to prove it to someone like you.) Registration could continue until 12 if there were people still in line at 11:30, but the person elected to chair the caucus was required to announce the "viability minimums" by noon.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

check your numbers, bro.

and i have a post i'll put up, just for responses like yours. "rules" are rules when people agree they are. when they don't, they go out the window. sorry if that sounds too crass.