Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 23, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

KING FOR A DAY....In the latest LA Times poll, Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama nationally 42%-33%. Then there's this:

Former Democratic Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina drew the support of 11% of Democratic respondents. When asked who they would vote for if their first choice dropped out, slightly more Edwards voters leaned toward Clinton than toward Obama, the poll found.

If this is accurate, then it means that all the talk about who would benefit from Edwards dropping out is meaningless. Nobody would.

On the other hand [WARNING! Brokered convention alert!], if Edwards stays in the race and prevents either Clinton or Obama from getting a majority of the delegates, he could be a kingmaker. Or a queenmaker. Who knows? Maybe that appeals to him.

Kevin Drum 7:41 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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Who knows, maybe he'll start to garner more votes if he comes right out and runs as a king/queenmaker.

Posted by: Lab Partner on January 23, 2008 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Just contemplating a brokered convention convinces me that the system needs a little more updating. The 19th century tarnish is starting to show.

Posted by: B on January 23, 2008 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone know the DNC rules that specifically allow John Edwards to pledge his delegates to another candidate? In the DNC Delegate Selection rules, sections I and J seem to prohibit this :


I. No delegate at any level of the delegate selection process shall be mandated by law or Party rule to vote contrary to that person’s presidential choice as expressed at the time the delegate is elected.

J. Delegates elected to the national convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.

If there's a contentious, brokered convention and the customary pledging of delegates that happens after a candidate drops out has been more of an informal rule (sorta like how delegate counts matter less than "momentum"), I don't think Edwards is going to be able to shift his delegates around and decide the candidate at a whim.

Posted by: greg saunders on January 23, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please let us have brokered conventions for both parties! Pleeeeease!

I can hear the party infrastructure on both sides already groaning under the strain. Let them both be cast asunder.

Posted by: Tlaloc on January 23, 2008 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

I don't care if John Edwards is the king or queenmaker. John Edwards should be the nominee and standard bearer for the democratic party. Period. Best candidate for the general election. Period.

Posted by: StillInforEdwards on January 23, 2008 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

I would love to see a brokered convention that is deadlocked with Al Gore getting the nod by acclamation.

In our history, nominations by acclimation at conventions have occurred, just not recently. We should try and bring them back!

Posted by: Andrew on January 23, 2008 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

A brokered convention could provide an opening for the one person who has every qualification to be U.S. President -- Al Gore

Posted by: John B. on January 23, 2008 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Apropos of not much, I just googled "Sick of Hillary" and got 28k+ hits, "Sick of Barack" got 25k+. Not much difference there, But should one include "Sick of Bill Clinton" at 16K+ to come up with Hillary's real total? Makes it much closer to "Sick of George Bush" (19k+) and "Sick of Bush" 30K+.

I just thought it was interesting, that's all.

Posted by: bluewave on January 23, 2008 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if Edwards can broker a deal so that he'd swing his support to a candidate based on their adoption of his policies, I'd think that would be all to the good.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 23, 2008 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with John B.

And where is Petey and his fantasy world that I still kinda cling to?

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on January 23, 2008 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

John Edwards, I'll say it, is a lawyer. He threw Clinton under the bus after Iowa, and then helped team up against Obama in the most recent debate. It remains what conversation went on between Clinton and Edwards after the debate, but I don't hold hopes for his endorsement, as an Obama supporter.

Posted by: Boorring on January 23, 2008 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

If, at the Dem convention, Hillary was leading Obama, let's say, 48 to 40 percent in terms of delegates, and Edwards had 10 percent which he gave to Obama, 'kinging' him and making him the winner - well, can you imagine the reaction of the Clintons, the party, the media, and the world? It would be like Armageddon! Hillary would sic her Secret Service agents on John to beat him to a pulp, Bill would take a beer bottle to Barack, the whole convention floor would explode in a giant internecine bloodbath, the Drudgereport would cause every computer screen in the country to shatter, and Tuvan throat singers in the Mongolian wastes would say, in their most guttural tones, 'whoa!'

Posted by: lampwick on January 23, 2008 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

If Edwards gets 11% of the votes from Democratic primary voters, he still won't get 11% of the convention delegates. Because of rules governing how delegates are awarded (which vary state to state), it's not strictly proportional representation. In California, for example, some delegates go to the statewide winner while other delegates go to the winner of individual districts. As I understand it, I don't think Edwards is likely to get few, if any, delegates out of California.

Posted by: CA Pol Junkie on January 23, 2008 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

He skates close to the goal...he shoots, he SCORES !!!

lampwick scores again !

Ladies & Gentlemen, what an amazing run...

I`m pulling for the brokered conventions scenario as well BTW.

"There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth." - Richard Avedon

Posted by: daCascadian on January 23, 2008 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

While it remains to be seen if he can get enough delegates to force a brokered convention, why wouldn't he try.

Setting ego aside, if you're goal is to make a difference, how many opportunities like that will come along.

Posted by: rmp on January 23, 2008 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, he is staying in the race in case some political Kryptonite bobs up to the surface and zaps Obama or HRC, then he's back in the running again. All it will take is something like the Dean Scream™ and its over. The polls have predicted shit as often as they have been right. He knows it ain't over yet.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 23, 2008 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, have you seen Obama's radio ad in response to the Clinton radio ad saying Obama liked Republican ideas?

It answers the false claim, brings up some issues, and raises questions about Hillary's character. I think this could be very effective.
http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0108/Obama_radio_Shell_say_anything.html

Posted by: Sue on January 23, 2008 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's next tv ad will end with a guest appearance by Mitt Romney, who will ask viewers, 'Who let the dogs out? Who let the Big Dog out?'

Posted by: lampwick on January 23, 2008 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to remember the threshold for delegates is 15%, or is this just in the Iowa Caucus?

If Edwards is going to be the kingmaker, I think he's got to have 15-20% support in most states. I don't think he quite has this.

If neither HRC or Obama wins outright, it seems like the Dems are in a pickle. I would take it to mean that about 50% of Dems are deeply opposed to HRC getting the nomination and about 50% are not comfortable with a Black candidate getting the nomination.

If the party ditches Obama and Clinton that's gonna piss off Blacks and women. Dems can't win alienating those constituencies. But a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket would seem to have problems too.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 23, 2008 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, that was an awesome post, lampwick. Now I want Tuvan throat singers to be the featured act at the convention.

Posted by: Ted on January 23, 2008 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Kevin, unless Edwards starts polling above 15% of the vote in upcoming primaries and caucuses, he's really not going to have much leverage at the national convention in terms of numbers of delegates. Many states have a 15% viability threshold when determining the make-up of their convention delegations.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 23, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

This assumes a static race. Not gonna happen. Edwards will taper off to zero delegate wins sooner than later. He'll eventually drop campaigning if not competely out from lack of funds like Kucinich. The ABC voters will have no where else to go but Obama and those Edwards supporter poll numbers will reverse and them some.

The Democratic backlash against the Clintons who have evidently decided that campaigning like their Republican tormentors is the way to win is only just starting. If we elect a president who lies, cheats and steals to win we'll get a president who lies cheats and steals.

Posted by: markg8 on January 23, 2008 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

bluewave: "I just googled 'Sick of Hillary' and got 28k+ hits, 'Sick of Barack' got 25k+."

And even more interesting, both trail "Totally Hot Babe", at 186K+ hits, by very significant margins.

Posted by: Totally Hot Babe for President '08 on January 23, 2008 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

We really need to start talking about electability. I know that Kevin thinks that all of our candidates are electable, and I suppose in a theoritical way they all are, but in the real world nominating Clinton is political suicide. It is far too likely thhat McCain will beat her.

According to a recent Gallup poll McCain's approval rating was 69% and disapproval was (I think) 26%. That means that he will get the R base plus enouugh independents to win.

Clinton's disapproval was close to 50% and her approval was something under forty. That means she will get the D base but not enough independents to win.

It is important to remember thhat independents are independent precisely because they don't vote on issues. They vote for thhe candidate they like based on percieved personality.

Think "I like Ike" vs Stevenson
Jfk vs Nixon
Mondale vs Dumbo
Dole and Bush vs the Big Dog

When both candidates lack the common touch (Nixon vs Humphrey) issues matter more, but if one candidate is likeable and the other isn't the likable one wins.

In addition, a summary of polls that I read a couple days ago ( but forgot where!) which included Rassumsen, Zogby, Gallup, the usual polls, had McCAin beating Hillary in every poll. Obama beat McCain in all but one poll.

Obama's approval rating is higher that Clinton's and his disapproval is lower.

We need to be discussing electability loud and long and objectively now, before Clinton gets a lock on the nomination.

Posted by: laura on January 23, 2008 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

A brokered convention would be a sign there is a god. If Totally Hot Babe 08 wins the convention, it would be a sign of an intelligent designer!

Posted by: jerry on January 23, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

This is not really related to the horserace. I've been reading Greenwald at Salon, and I'm struck by the issue of offering retroactive immunity to telecomm companies that helped the Administration spy on Americans even before 9/11. I'm also sensitized to the whole issue of Bolton and Miers just being able to blow off subpeonas from the Congress. Why isn't Kevin bloggin about this? It seems far more important than the horse race and most of the topics addressed. I mean at issue is whether the President can just cow and blow off a Democratic Congress that was elected in 2006 precisely to bring accountability. If they can't, well then, throw the bums out. It's much better to have Republicans enabling executive excesses, than to suffer the disappointment of seeing the Democracts join in.

Posted by: McTight on January 23, 2008 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK
...It answers the false claim, brings up some issues, and raises questions about Hillary's character....Sue at 8:59 PM
Nothing like the politics of personal destruction being brought up the man of new politics .

...The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees -- a union that has endorsed Clinton -- has funded a mailing that attacks Obama's healthcare plan by quoting Edwards. The union has also run a radio ad that accuses Obama of not being serious about achieving universal healthcare.
But AFSCME spending is not controlled by any campaign or candidate. Obama's ad, by contrast is being run directly by his campaign.
....feature, such as Obama's.
UPDATE: ABC News' Sunlen Miller, traveling with the Obama campaign, reports that the ad has been running for approximately 10 days, according to the campaign. Asked why the campaign did not send out a media advisory about the ad, one aide said that there typically is not
much media interest in radio advertising -- and kept a straight face....

Posted by: Mike on January 23, 2008 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Rezko and Hsu should sink Obama & Clinton.

John Edwards should be the last man standing. He has integrity the others just rent.

Posted by: MarkH on January 23, 2008 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Ya know, I try really hard not to let my emotions lead me into posting...not that I have any cred here in the first place.

However, I can't resist after reading this:

if Edwards stays in the race and prevents either Clinton or Obama from getting a majority of the delegates, he could be a kingmaker. Or a queenmaker. Who knows? Maybe that appeals to him.

Kevin, please tell me that this is nothing more than snark. 'cause if not.. well I have to simply ask: What the fuck is wrong with you? Seriously.

You are no better than the rest of the media that has been dismissive of Edward's message. I'm a Dem undecided and have you paid more than 10 minutes of attention to Edwards' message? Of course there is a bit of ego involved.. there has to be to be insane enough to actually run for the posion. But, seriously if you think this is about Edwards ego, you really need to take a step back.

He has more base integrity then the other 2 combined. Not sure that translates into leadership and the bull-head needed to right the ship, but suggesting that he is staying in for nothing other than to play some spoiler role is borderline offensive.

He is the only one, as far as I can see, that sees just how disillusioned the progressive electorate really is.

Posted by: Simp on January 23, 2008 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK
....Obama's approval rating is higher that Clinton's and his disapproval is lower. We need to be discussing electability... laura at 9:36 PM
Here's a snapshot of Democratic candidate fav/unfav as of 2008. Note, Clinton and Obama close 49/50 Clinton, 51/47 Obama, but Obama hasn't been put through the Republican slime machine, while Clinton has been for almost two decades. For Republican numbers, click "Republican Presidential Candidates Key Stats" on page. This early, Republican v Democrat match ups mean nothing..
.... I've been reading Greenwald at Salon, and I'm struck by the issue of offering retroactive immunity to telecomm companies.... McTight at 9:49 PM
Reading Greenwald is always good, writing to the Senate principals on this issue is even better.

Harry Reid's contact page

You can use address slightly different from his office address:
Carson City
600 East William Street, #302
Carson City, NV 89701
Phone: 775-882-7343 / Fax: 775-883-1980

Posted by: Mike on January 23, 2008 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Either way, if Hillary and Obama don't stand up on the senate floor against retroactive immunity, they kiss corporate 'potamus ass. Why is the electorate so f'ing stupid? It just doesn't bode well for the future.

Posted by: Sid's Id on January 23, 2008 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

And even more interesting, both trail "Totally Hot Babe", at 186K+ hits, by very significant margins.

Yeah, but sick of totally hot babe is at 102K. Pretty significant, I'd say.

Posted by: Sick of Totally Hot Babes on January 23, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

What about Totally Warm Babe ?

Long cold winter nights ya know

"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." - Mark Twain

Posted by: daCascadian on January 23, 2008 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sick of Totally Hot Babes: "Yeah, but sick of totally hot babe is at 102K. Pretty significant, I'd say."

Well, wait'll you meet my running mate, "Really Hot Hunk", who scores a whopping 1,060,000K hits! Now that's a balanced ticket!

Posted by: Totally Hot Babe '08 on January 24, 2008 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

I wanted Edwards to be the nominee, but I've just about given up on that. Now I want him to trade his support for a supreme court seat. We sure could use somebody who is pro-worker there.

Posted by: cathy on January 24, 2008 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

John Edwards should be given more consideration by anybody who's a serious Democrat/progressive. He was very impressive in Lancaster SC yesterday and his volunteers came across as NICE NORMAL PEOPLE - not like i-know-i'm-better-than-these-hicks types from
DC, New York, or California. I spent a couple of years working in DC and I never forgot the arrogance of those who were not from the "hinterlands".

Posted by: MuddyLee on January 24, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK
if Edwards stays in the race and prevents either Clinton or Obama from getting a majority of the delegates, he could be a kingmaker. Or a queenmaker. Who knows? Maybe that appeals to him.

Yes, I'm sure that having a substantial effect on the direction of the country over the next several years appeals to him, otherwise the only reason to run for President would be because of a sense of entitlement to the job. Sure, its not as good as winning the Presidency, but its the next best thing for anyone who is running because they care about what a President can do, rather than just to have the title.

Plus, of course, there is the fact that the vast majority of the delegates are not yet selected, and while the national media are uninterested in anyone who isn't in first or second place after Iowa and New Hampshire, most of the voting has yet to take place. Things may be unlikely to shift radically in time for Edwards to win, but when you start a Presidential campaign, its not exactly like your likely to win either. Why would anyone who ever could be considered as a viable President give up, while the resources and supporters to continue campaigning were there, just because success was unlikely?

Posted by: cmdicely on January 24, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Also, if JRE stays in but scores below the 15% threshold, it accentuates the (state by state) winner's delegate margin.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on January 24, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Well, wait'll you meet my running mate, "Really Hot Hunk", who scores a whopping 1,060,000K hits! Now that's a balanced ticket!"

You must be referring to Edwards (though Obama isn't bad, either)...

Posted by: Daydream Believer on January 24, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

With all the primaries still ongoing, I don't see that a national poll means much, if anything. I think the reputable state polls for the states with the next upcoming primaries do mean something. What does the Field Poll show for Californai, for example?

Posted by: hollywood on January 24, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the deal I would propose if I were John Edwards, and had enough delegates to influence the selection of the nominee:

Edwards: "I'll give you my delegates in exchange for being your VP running mate, and then, as VP, I have the same powers as Dick Cheney did."

Posted by: Eric on January 24, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

i read a lot of the blogs and peruse most of the comments section...and i gotta say, you all are the funniest damn bunch yet.

totally hot babe '08! heeelarious.

on top of that, i appreciate the (not quite total) lack of invective.

gobama!

Posted by: pkoso on January 24, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum -- the poll on who Edwards's backers would support if he dropped out is interesting, but there's an important missing term, namely, HOW does he drop out, and does he support someone. I find it hard to believe that if he provided an enthusiastic endorsement of one of the other candidates, and then campaigned with that other candidates, that he wouldn't swing a large majority of his voters. I don't think they would be splitting 50-50.

Posted by: David on January 24, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Mike-
that fav/unfav poll is interesting, but in that case I think the more portant number is the will/will not vote for numbers in which Clinton has a 10 point deficiency compared to Obama.

Also the "Hillary has been put through the ringer" argument is a bit of a canard because she has never been a national candidate. True, while she was First Lady the VRWC shutdown her healthcare reform, used her to leverage away congress from the Dems and made her look pretty foolish defending Willie's philandering (Not very successful against the smear machine, was she?) But their attacks since then have just been media noise to the general electorate. If she is the Dems candidate, though, they will pay attention.

As for Edwards, I just can't get past the accent. Pathetic, I know.

Posted by: GBerg on January 24, 2008 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

It really is pathetic - not being able to get past the accent when Edwards' words really mean something. And in this year, when we need someone who means something. Wonder what the posters would call you if you just couldn't get past the gender or the skin color?

Posted by: YaFatha on January 24, 2008 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Obama or Clinton could get most of the Edwards voters without his endorsement. They just need to adopt some of his policies and change their focus.

How about Gore/Barbara Lee ticket?

Posted by: How to win Edwards' supporters on January 24, 2008 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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