Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

February 6, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

SUPERDELEGATES!....Ezra Klein comments:

I really, really hope the Democratic primary doesn't come down to superdelegates — the privileged class of delegate that gets to vote however they want, and were created to ensure that party elites didn't lose too much control over the process.

Maybe I'm just being contrarian here, but why would this be so bad? After all, the only way it could happen is if the voters themselves split nearly 50-50. And in that case, the nomination would end up being decided by a massive effort to sway uncommitted delegates anyway. So who cares if that massive effort is directed at superdelegates (senators, governors, etc.) or the more plebeian regular delegates (typically county chairs, local activists, etc.). And in any case, why shouldn't the party elders, many of whom have to run on the same ticket as the presidential nominee, get a little extra say in the process?

If, say, Obama wins 1,800 delegates to Clinton's 1,400, and superdelegates end up reversing a convincing Obama win, that would be a problem. That's pretty unlikely, though. On the other hand, if primary season ends up basically tied at 1,600 apiece, I don't see why superdelegates aren't as good a way as any to break the deadlock.

Kevin Drum 12:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (128)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Superdelegates aren't anonymous - what do they get for voting as they do? Especially if the race comes-down to superdelegates...

Posted by: rusrus on February 6, 2008 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

These superdelegates aren't the Illuminati or anything. The vast majority are elected governors, senators, and representatives, along with the 50 state chairs and a few dignitaries like Bill Clinton, Gore, and Carter. These have already been chosen by the people--maybe not for this specific job, but still elected.

Posted by: ArkPanda on February 6, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

If it comes down to a 50-50 split, 50% of Dems are going to feel betrayed by the superdelegate's choice. How can this be a good thing?

It's like the classic double bind: The mother gives her son two new shirts, one blue, one yellow, and sends him off to try one on. He comes out wearing the blue shirt. "So", she says, "you don't like the yellow one?"

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 6, 2008 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

if primary season ends up basically tied at 1,600 apiece, I don't see why superdelegates aren't as good a way as any to break the deadlock.

there's "basically tied" and there's "actually tied". there are a total of 3253 pledged delegates. john edwards has 26 of them and, unless there's an unexpected gravel surge, the remaining 3227 will be divided between clinton and obama.

because it's an odd number that means that someone's gonna end up with more. there can't be an actual tie. and that means that if superdelegates push the vote in a way that is contrary to the way the voted-in delegates lean that will be the big story, and that will cause a big backlash against the party insiders who effectively reversed the vote.

that's the problem.

Posted by: upyernoz on February 6, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

It would be a shame for a primary season with such high voter participation to not be "decided" by the voters.

How'd the last tie-breaker work out, Bush v Gore?

Posted by: Patrick on February 6, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'd suggest Kevin Drum examine the 1984 presidential election for information as what is likely happen if Super Delegates end up deciding the nominee. It won't matter if thats the only logical way to do it, we've seen from the past that it's likely to be catastrophic and super delegates should probably just be abolished. Even if they don't ruin it for us this time, they will eventually.

Ark, you can argue that argument to the cows come home. People expect the winner of the most delegates to be the winner of the primary and anything else is going to divide this party worse than Hubert Humphrey.

I doubt it will come to that. Clinton really needed to be ahead in delegates after last night. He'll sweep February and despite what the polls say now, probably do well enough in OH, TX and the rest to keep his lead. People forget that 2 weeks ago he was behind in 9 of the states he won last night by 20+votes. Pretending that Texas/OH/PN polls now are where they will be in march is wishful thinking by Hillary supporters.

Posted by: Soullite on February 6, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama (1) wins more delegates than Hillary, and (2) wins a higher percentage of the vote than Hillary, and (3) is denied the nomination because a bunch of old white establishment guys decide to give Hillary the nod, then *that* will be a problem.

Posted by: paul on February 6, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

I have to admit that's a pretty fair interpretation.

However, I tend not to think that the supporters of the candidate who loses in this manner are going to be so reasonable. It's going to be hard to convince them that the nomination wasn't stolen with back room promises and shady deals.

And we haven't even talked about what the fuck is going to happen with Michigan and Florida.

Posted by: J.W. Hamner on February 6, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

> If it comes down to a 50-50 split, 50% of Dems
> are going to feel betrayed by the superdelegate's
> choice. How can this be a good thing?

Chris Bowers over at OpenLeft has been hitting that scenario pretty hard. And it is worth discussing. But I suspect that an actual contested convention would be an exciting, motivating event (or should I say spectacle) and at the end, after a tearful farewell-and-let's-work-together speech by the non-selected candidate, everyone would head out in the street arm-in-arm to trample the Republicans. More like the aftermath of a local rugby match than a bitter US crosstown football game.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 6, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Having party elders determine the nominee is a long American tradition. Hey, entire presidential elections were originally done in the legislature.

Posted by: nettle on February 6, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

After all, the only way it could happen is if the voters themselves split nearly 50-50.

I'm not sure I understand this. Since the superdelegates are about 20% of total delegates, they could reverse the outcome of the primaries even if the elected delegates split 50% to 30% of total. Looking at elected delegates alone, the split that the superdelegates could reverse would be 62.5% to 37.5% -- far from 50-50.

Posted by: JS on February 6, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Recalling the movement to install Howard Dean as DNC chair, it seems that reaching out to party 'elders' is something that can be done successfully by any group.

Posted by: lutton on February 6, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Like it or not--and I don't--super-delegates were designed as tie breakers. That is why they exist.

Posted by: roland on February 6, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

The superdelegates are a problem because the selection of a nominee should be as much a direct election as possible. Whoever gets the most delegates selected in that manner should be the winner.

The kicker is also that Florida and Michigan will not have had proper votes. The system is broken. As much as I liked Howard Dean, he should loose his head if this comes down to a big fight over these two states.

Posted by: evan500 on February 6, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Off-topic, but I just want to interrupt this thread for a moment of sharing: God, I love the internet! I love WM. All day yesterday, anticipating the caucus. All last night at the caucus. All this morning, debriefing.

This is great. All right. Now back to regular programming.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 6, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin - Stop being so god-damn reasonable!

Posted by: Tom on February 6, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Does someone have a link to accurate delegate counts? I thought cnn had an accurate count. It looks reasonable, but the numbers don't add up. For e.g. the cable channels were talking about huge number of delegates in California (300+), but cnn only shows a total much less than 100. What's up? Is that because they have only counted official results?

Posted by: rational on February 6, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Ezra Klein comments: I really, really hope the Democratic primary doesn't come down to superdelegates — the privileged class of delegate that gets to vote however they want, and were created to ensure that party elites didn't lose too much control over the process.

Ya. It would be nice if we lived in a democracy.

Posted by: JeffII on February 6, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

> Like it or not--and I don't--super-delegates
> were designed as tie breakers. That is why they
> exist.

No, the were designed to prevent young, liberal, insurgent candidates from winning the nomination over the Mondale/Kerry types preferred by those who consider themselves the "party elders".

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 6, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

I've got no problem with superdelegates having a major role in the nominating process. Keep in mind, though, that there are "only" 792 superdelegates, and that they are likely to be split fairly evenly between the two candidates.

If either Obama or Hillary enters the convention with a lead of over 200 delegates, they will probably win the nomination, since it's unlikely that the superdelegates will split more than 500-300 (62.5% to 37.5% in favor of either candidate).

In my opinion, the big elephant in the room will be the Florida & Michigan delegations, which Hillary will almost certainly try to get seated if she is behind.

Posted by: mfw13 on February 6, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

One of the unspoken themes going on seems to be that a brokered convention with several ballots, smoke-filled rooms, etc., is some sort of travesty.

Interestingly, many of these are the same people who have been saying that the Iowa / New Hampshire routine also is a travesty. As well as the talking heads, who are by definition full of it. Many of these people also have been complaining about what a screaming bore conventions have become.

The simple fact is, however, that disputed conventions with smoke filled rooms are part and parcel of traditional American democracy.

It should be obvious that the real issues are that New Hampshire / Iowa be sent without ceremony to the back of the buss while the talking heads be reemployed into some more productive occupation, such as flipping hamburgers.

I do hope that, sooner or later, that somebody notices that money has not made all that big a difference in this campaign. And that that is presumptively a good thing.

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on February 6, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Can the Dem party pay for and have some kind of elections in Michigan and Florida? That would be better than having superdelegates break the tie. That would be the equivalent of a revote in Florida in 2000. Costs a few more million dollars but much fairer than having a few people making deals in smoke filled rooms.

Posted by: rational on February 6, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

A brokered Democratic party convention = President McCain. That's all there is to it.

Posted by: winner on February 6, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

jasper: "Caucuses are cute, quaint, old-fashioned, and ultimately profoundly undemocratic phenomena."

Yes and no. My caucus last night was great fun. I saw neighbors and colleagues from work. Our political representatives at the state level showed up. I'm going to be a delegate to the next level.

The problem isn't the caucus system, per se. The idea of grassroots support for the party, that people will talk to one another? These are good things. The problem is that the caucus is on Tuesday night. I didn't go to the caucus for years because it was a school night, and my kids had homework and bed. I had to leave work early yesterday. And the community doesn't talk enough--apart from my neighbors, it was full of strangers. We looked at one another suspiciously wondering what crackpot schemes those strangers showed up to support.

So, why Tuesday? Why not on Saturday or Sunday? And how can the precinct organize so we stay in touch the rest of the time?

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 6, 2008 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Remember also that the Florida and Michigan delegations will be seated, one way or the other, as determined by the credentials committee.

I hope all will keep in mind the objective here is to rid the White House and Congress of the torturer supporters, the anti-habeas corpus crowd, the crony capitalist, the incompetent, the Constitution violators, the neo-fascists, and etc.

Either Obama or Clinton would work for such, and it is important for democrats to go into the general election unite in purpose and to ensure long coattails for the nominee.

Posted by: Chris Brown on February 6, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I have a question regarding superdelegates. Do they get to vote in the primaries and caucuses as well? That seems unfair that they get to vote for real twice.

Posted by: GOD on February 6, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

One thing that no one seems to be bringing up is the obvious issue with Michigan and Florida, major states that held elections handsomely won by Hillary.

Michigan, of course, is something of a mess because only Hillary's name was on the ballot. Someone suggested prorating the delegates there based on exit poll results for each candidate. But Florida's election really had no such weirdness -- or at least nothing weirder than the distorted representation one gets in a caucus as opposed to an election.

To me, it looks like it's going to be pretty important to figure out a fair way to factor in both Michigan and Florida. But I think it's pretty easy to imagine that the Obama camp is going to find some fine spin to declare that the actual results from those two states should simply be ignored.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

+1 on money not making too big a difference in this election. Let's thank the Internet (blogs, youtube, even news/opinion) for that. Candidates should use the internet more and rely less on tv/cable to get their message out. Cheap and effective.

Posted by: rational on February 6, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

When it comes to party elites, consider me a Jacobin.

The Democratic Party elites swiftboated Dean. Off with their heads!

Posted by: Brojo on February 6, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

We're arguing about a what if. I don't think the superdelegates are going to be a monolithic bloc for one candidate or the other. If it's close to 50-50 without the supers, it'll still be close to 50-50 when they chime in.

Posted by: tomeck on February 6, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Can the Dem party pay for and have some kind of elections in Michigan and Florida? Posted by: rational

I wonder, even with the current Supreme Court, whether a challenge to this bullshit wouldn't get a fair hearing. This nonsense of party controlled primaries and telling people who they can vote for (Washington) and when smacks of disenfranchisement.

All national voting should be carried out under uniform rules by the Federal Elections Commission.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 6, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe you're right:

I don't see why superdelegates aren't as good a way as any to break the deadlock

But if their votes could be bought or traded, I could see a problem there.

Posted by: Boolaboola on February 6, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

In my opinion, the big elephant in the room will be the Florida & Michigan delegations, which Hillary will almost certainly try to get seated if she is behind.

She doesn't have to wait to be behind to start working the refs on this. It's clearly going to be close, so she will be pushing this every day until the convention.

Posted by: Mr Furious on February 6, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

the Obama camp is going to find some fine spin to declare that the actual results from those two states should simply be ignored.

Didn't the Democratic National Committee strip Michigan and Florida of all their delegates to the convention? How/why can they reverse that?

Posted by: JS on February 6, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

To me, it looks like it's going to be pretty important to figure out a fair way to factor in both Michigan and Florida. But I think it's pretty easy to imagine that the Obama camp is going to find some fine spin to declare that the actual results from those two states should simply be ignored.

Well, the rules before the game started said these would be ignored. If the rules were different before the game, Obama and Edwards would have taken appropriate action. Since the rules were clearly known, asking to ignore fl/mi is not ignoring democracy. Democracy has rules.

I'm pissed off that the Dem party decided to punish these two states. If anyone is to blame, it is the Dem party. How can you blame Obama/Edwards for playing by the rules and asking for those rules to be honored? It would be disastrous for the Dem party to somehow factor in Mi/Fl without a fresh vote.

Posted by: rational on February 6, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't the Democratic National Committee strip Michigan and Florida of all their delegates to the convention? How/why can they reverse that?

Um, because there are millions and millions of voters in Michigan and Florida who so much wanted to have their voice heard that they went to the polls to register their choice even though a backroom deal amongst the Democratic Party bosses denied them delegates?

It's called democracy? Heard of it?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Either Obama or Clinton would work for such, and it is important for democrats to go into the general election unite in purpose and to ensure long coattails for the nominee. Posted by: Chris Brown

We'll be rid of Shrub in January of 2009 no matter what. So that's not the point because Hillary has shown herself to be a very illiberal Dem, and McCain is, apparently, trying to prove that Vietnam wasn't a colossal mistake by "winning" Iraq. And he's just craven enough that he may pick Huckabee as his VP. A truly frightening scenario

I'm afraid it's got to be Barrack or we'll see next to no change in DC as opposed to some change.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 6, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

How can you blame Obama/Edwards for playing by the rules and asking for those rules to be honored?

There is no serious argument that Hillary did not abide by those same rules. The people went out and voted their choice, even though backroom politics denied them delegates. I should think that has to be respected.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0, there are rules in a democracy. Changing the rules after the fact to favor one candidate is going to cause much pain. That is what the supremes did in 2000 when they decided to change the rules and ignore florida voters to favor Bush.

If fl and mi delegates are somehow counted without a revote, I will stay home in Nov. Why bother voting when the rules aren't honored?

Posted by: rational on February 6, 2008 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Do the superdelegates need to commit when their respective state primaries or caucuses occur or can they wait until the convetion nears?

My point is that if Obama or Clinton has a clear lead in pledged (i.e. elected) delegates then I can see a superdelegate ceding to the popular will and throwing his/her support to the one with the most delegates.

Posted by: David68 on February 6, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, everyone played by the rules. But you know campaigning makes a difference. Obama/Edwards didn't have the name recognition advantage Clinton did (and still does, relative to the others), so they make up for that by campaigning harder and longer to try and make up for the difference.

Hillary played by the rules and didn't campaign. She should continue to play by the rules and have the mi/fl delegates be ignored because them were the rules.

Posted by: rational on February 6, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0, there are rules in a democracy. Changing the rules after the fact to favor one candidate is going to cause much pain.

Think of how absurd your argument is on its face. You are talking about "rules in a democracy". But what is the "rule" you are talking about here? A decision made by some backroom power brokers to exclude the vote of millions of real live citizens from a voice in the decision of our nominee.

Yeah, that's real democracy alright.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's called democracy? Heard of it?

Sorry, you can have no democracy without rules.

Posted by: JS on February 6, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

No frankly0, you've picked your candidate and are following to cherry-pick whatever data supports her. Popular vote, super delegates, non-existant delegates... whatever you have to support to give hillary the win - that's what you'll do. Give it up already.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0, you are not listening. I agree it sucks to have the fl/mi delegates ignored. But Obama/Edwards didn't make those rules. The Dem party made them and I already said they should be ashamed of themselves for doing that.

If you can find a way to punish the Dem party officials who made that decision, let us know and I will be happy to do my part.

They should have a revote in fl/mi and do the right thing. Give the candidates a chance to campaign and count the votes/delegates. Costs a few millions, but that is not much in the big scheme of things.

Posted by: rational on February 6, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, everyone played by the rules. But you know campaigning makes a difference. Obama/Edwards didn't have the name recognition advantage Clinton did (and still does, relative to the others), so they make up for that by campaigning harder and longer to try and make up for the difference.

Yes, and Obama has systematically had great advantages when a caucus is used, because it attracts a very skewed representation of the actual voting public. There are always going to be advantages that go one way or another. But in the end, a vote is a vote, and, given that conditions are never perfect, one simply has to respect that above all. Most certainly it is as undemocratic as possible simply to turn your back on the expressed opinions of millions of voters.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

A revote isn't going to happen. The honest truth as I see it is that we have a problem on our hands. Everybody agreed to exclude an important portion of the vote, the decision kinda sucks, reversing the decision really sucks. The party really needs to sort this out quickly and definitively. The time for sitting back and hoping some clear winner emerges is over.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

> Frankly0, you are not listening. I agree it sucks
> to have the fl/mi delegates ignored. But
> Obama/Edwards didn't make those rules. The Dem
> party made them and I already said they should be
> ashamed of themselves for doing that.
>
> If you can find a way to punish the Dem party
> officials who made that decision, let us know and
> I will be happy to do my part.

So when should the IA and NH contests have been held? October of 2007? And what if CA then decided to go to September 2007?

Cranky

The funny thing is if MI and FL had stayed where they were they would be in a deciding position right now...

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 6, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0, the fl/mi decision has already been made. The problem with reversing it is that it's clear NOW what the outcome would be. You can call it democracy, but in effect it would be undemocratic, because it would be party leaders changing the rules to give a clinton win. The result would be a disaster for everybody.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I think it is an issue and it already seems to be happening....super delegates are not voting in line with popular vote...at least according to what I read at Americablog.

http://www.americablog.com/2008/02/you-all-voted-for-obama-but.html

Posted by: Patrick on February 6, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Well, let's agree to disagree. There is not much else to be said. All the basic arguments have been laid out and it appears that the Dem party officials have a problem on their hand. The repugs are the ones buying the popcorn now.

Anyone wants to buy my truckload of popcorn?

Posted by: rational on February 6, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm.. that actually is pretty funny.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

There won't be an exact 50-50 split. One of the two will be ahead, perhaps only slightly. If either candidate is behind in delegate count but "wins" the nomination because of an advantage of super delegates, that is a HUGE problem. Whoever gets the most delegates should get the nomination, and I will support them. If either gets the nomination based solely in an advantage of super delegate support or in Hillary's case, by seating the Michigan or the Florida delegates, not only will the DNC never get another dime from me, I will actively campaign for McCain.

Posted by: Ben on February 6, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

A decision made by some backroom power brokers

Not very accurate. The DNC openly published the dates when primaries were to be permitted. I think the current schedule is a joke, but it's hard to argue that a party shouldn't control it's nominating process. Florida and Michigan chose to ignore the stated rules and are getting the stated result. No backroom deal there.

Frankly0, you might as well be Mark Penn weighing in on this issue. Please spare us the faux interest in pure democracy - your rooting interests are quite clear.

Posted by: stuck in 200 on February 6, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Florida and Michigan chose to ignore the stated rules and are getting the stated result. No backroom deal there.

Excuse me, did the voters make this choice? Answer: no.

But you'll gladly let actual voters go hang even though someone else made up these rules?

Love your idea of democracy. Can I live somewhere else, though?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'll say that if they can figure out a way to conduct an actual election again in FL and MI, that might be a reasonable way out.

But I don't see how a mere caucus in those states at this stage could hold any real legitimacy, when actual voters have already gone on record with their votes. I don't think anyone who's taken a look at how Obama does so well in caucuses can fail to realize that there's something in that process that greatly skews results from the results you'd get from an actual vote.

Ultimately, it has to be actual votes from real people that should be considered the purest expression of democracy.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

What about the voters who didn't go to the polls because they were told that their vote wouldn't count? Is it fair to exclude them?

Posted by: JS on February 6, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Ultimately, it is the arbitrary decision that favours my candidate that should be considered the purest expression of democracy.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin- would you say the same thing if, say, Senators got to cast votes in the Electoral College to decide a near-tie presidential election? After all, why shouldn't the government elders, many of whom have to work with the winner, get a little extra say in the process?

Posted by: Randall Flagg on February 6, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0, do you honestly fail to grasp the legitimate difficulty of this issue? I mean seriously, it doesn't seem all that hard to understand. Letting the states have an arms race for who votes first was determined to be unacceptable. Deciding that hillary wins because she won an election that everybody agreed to not count is unacceptable.

How can you not see that what you're proposing would cripple the democratic party? The reality of the situation is clear to me and several other posters here. Is there some particular aspect of this that you're having trouble understanding? maybe we can help you.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

"To me, it looks like it's going to be pretty important to figure out a fair way to factor in both Michigan and Florida. But I think it's pretty easy to imagine that the Obama camp is going to find some fine spin to declare that the actual results from those two states should simply be ignored."

Huh? "Fine spin"? How is "let's adhere to the rules that both Clinton and Obama agreed to beforehand" spin, let alone "fine spin"?

Posted by: blah on February 6, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Superdelegates are fine so long as they are harmless, merely annointing an already-selected candidate-- pretty much their role to date.

However, in an actual split, which we are seeing right now between Hillary and Obama, do you really want to see the voters potentially ignored, and a 2000-style result, a declaration of victory by someone who didn't win? It would be the end, and rightfully so, of the Democratic Party.

Frankly, the only reason that the superdelegates haven't been an issue is that they haven't decided an election-- they group up under the voter-elected winner (except, of course, where they want to curry favors with the loser). If they actually decide a candidate, particularly in the post-2000 environment, it would be a disaster.

Just think, for example, of the advertising which would jump from the Right-- "this is the candidate that even Democrats didn't want..."... superdelegates? Bad idea...

Posted by: Castor Troy on February 6, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't they "superdelegate" Jerry Brown out of the race? I know he carried my home state of Colorado in the primary, but wasn't mentioned at the convention.

Posted by: Brian on February 6, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0, your argument is absurd. You might as well be arguing that we should suddenly stop (right now) using delegates at all, and instead choose the winner (of this election) based on the results of the national popular vote.

To be clear, I'm not saying that using the national popular vote is an absurd idea.

I'm saying that using the national popular vote in this election which is already in progress and which already has agreed-upon rules different than "national popular vote" in place is an absurd idea.

Posted by: blah on February 6, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

You're right castor. Though i would add that it's clearly too late to change the rules now. AFTER this race, we should get rid of those superdelegates.


But we still need to make sure that the results of this race are clean and democratic. That's the real challenge.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

blah - funny you should mention that. I think franlk0 WAS starting to argue exactly this in another thread.

I'm done with him. It's clear to me now that everybody is already aware that his comments are worthless.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a great site to find out exactly who the Superdelegates are, who they've pledged to, unpledged superdelegates etc. There is also a daily update on additions (and even one subtraction!). PS: I don't like this superdelegate thing at all. If there's a delegate tie in the primaries then it should go to popular vote as the deciding factor.

2008 Democratic Convention

Posted by: nepeta on February 6, 2008 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Deciding that hillary wins because she won an election that everybody agreed to not count is unacceptable.

Excuse me, did the voters in FL or MI agree to this? No? Then whatever you may say, it's not the principle of democracy that supports your point of view, but some strained notion of "fairness" based on what party bigwigs settled on.

So which is more important to you? In the end, I think reasonable people will agree that it is the principle of democracy that must prevail.

I think probably the fairest result would be to hold new elections. Failing that, one should go instead with the elections that have already been held, and extrapolate results as best as possible. A far less fair case would be to hold caucuses in MI and FL, since those are inherently a less pure form of democracy than an election.

But absolutely the least just thing to do of all, the most antithetical to the principle of democracy, is to refuse to count the delegates from MI and FL at all. It was always unfair, no matter what the party bigwigs thought, and despite what candidates may have felt they must agree to. It must be rectified.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously frankly0's arguments are silly - but even sillier to maintain MI's "votes" should stand. Hillary was the only candidate on the Dem ballot!

And MI Dem voters were urged to monkey around in the R primary by voting for McCain in the hopes of denying Romney a victory there.

As to Superdelegates, my problem is with the means of pressure and persuasion. I think the Clintons have an advantage there in being able to draw upon past loyalties, arm-twisting, horse-trading, and threats of making life difficult for those who don't go their way.

Why should we allow people who may decide based on some personal hope of benefit/fear of reprisal to have a say?

Posted by: vernonlee on February 6, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

You might as well be arguing that we should suddenly stop (right now) using delegates at all, and instead choose the winner (of this election) based on the results of the national popular vote.

I can see the argument that in the future the principle of democracy might well require that something like a popular vote be used. But that is something that should reasonably wait until another cycle. The current use of delegates, which after all are mostly assigned in a way congruent with our representative democracy, is hardly as much a violation of the principle of democracy as it would be to throw the actual votes of millions of voters into the trash bin simply because of some intra-party dispute among power brokers. THAT is as plain a violation of what democracy means as is possible. THAT is a miscarriage of democracy that must be corrected.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"THAT is as plain a violation of what democracy means as is possible. THAT is a miscarriage of democracy that must be corrected."

Why didn't Clinton try to correct that before the vote?

Because she didn't know ahead of time whether or not it would help her.

The reason you make rules before the election is because it isn't fair to make up rules after the election when you know exactly how the rules will help you.

Posted by: Sebastian on February 6, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK


Is anybody here a "card-carrying member of the Democraric Party"? I know I'm not. Even though I am absolutely committed to voting for the Democrat in November, I don't pay dues to "the Democratic Party", I don't own shares in "the Democratic Party", I am not even "enrolled" in "the Democratic Party" according to my Town Clerk. So, by what right can I protest whatever procedure "the Democratic Party" chooses to use in selecting its nominee?

Let me repeat: I will vote for the Democrat in November, no matter who it is. I did vote in the Democratic primary yesterday, so I do have a preference as to who "my" party should nominate. But who the hell constitutes "my" party? In particular, if there are voters out there whose position is "nobody but Hillary" or "nobody but Barack", how much say should they have in picking the nominee of "my" party?

At the very least, there's this much to be said for "superdelegates": they ARE members of "the Democratic Party" in a stronger sense than many of the people who voted in "our" primaries and caucuses.

-- TP

Posted by: Tony P. on February 6, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Why didn't Clinton try to correct that before the vote? Because she didn't know ahead of time whether or not it would help her.

I think that it would have been pretty obvious to Hillary and her campaign from very early on that states like MI and FL would be very good states for her. My guess is that she was under great pressure to go along with the decision so that she wouldn't antagonize the power brokers.

But, again, this is NOT fundamentally an issue about what the candidates or the power brokers decided upon. It's about how to implement the principle of democracy in the primary process, and how to redress the injustices visited on voters themselves.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure this has been already stated above, but what a fricking elitist you are, Kev. Not that that is any surprise, but you might want to consider the hypocrisy of inveighing against delegates as undemocratic while supporting superdels.

In any case, the superdels are sure to decide this race, as close as it appears it will end up being, and since the superdels are overwhelmingly members of the establishment, they will go overwhelming for the establishment candidate, HRC, as they are reportedly already doing 2:1. And like in the general in 2000, the Dem primary may very well end up being a farce of an election, with the popular vote going one way, and the delegate vote going another way, thanks to cronyism.

It makes me wish all the more that Edwards had stayed in. I'd rather have him throwing his hard-earned democratically elected dels one way or another than to have the party elite overrule the masses.

Posted by: Disputo on February 6, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky,

No, they (superdelegates) were designed to prevent young, liberal, insurgent candidates from winning the nomination over the Mondale/Kerry types preferred by those who consider themselves the "party elders".

I think they were put in place to prevent another "McGovern" fiasco. In 68 McGovern reformed the Democratic primary system to reduce the influence of party officials. In 72 McGovern then used the new system to get the Democratic nomination and proceeded to lose the Presidential election in a landslide, losing the electoral vote 520-17. He didn't even take his own state of South Dakota.

After that the party officials decided they needed some control back and they got it.

Posted by: Tripp on February 6, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0,

I know it is hard when one becomes disillusioned, I really do, but what in the world ever made you think the US is a democracy?

The presidential election is not by popular vote. Neither are the two major party processes to select their candidate. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

Posted by: Tripp on February 6, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

"they will go overwhelming for the establishment candidate, HRC, as they are reportedly already doing 2:1"

I'm not so sure about this -- obama's pulled in some big establishment endorsements, and i could be wrong about this, but it seems like his super delegate count is increasing faster than hillary's since his initial win. Could be that Penn/frankly0's otherwise ridiculous argument about obama being establishment has a weird sort of merit to it.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Tony P.

I am not even "enrolled" in "the Democratic Party" according to my Town Clerk.

Here in Minnesota it is illegal for any election official to ask which party you belong to.

In general the US courts have upheld that how a political party selects its candidates is totally up to the party. There are no laws regarding that process.

I know there are a lot of newcomers to politics and I think that is great! I hope they don't become disillusioned when they discover that things are not the way they imagined them to be.

I strongly believe that is important for ALL citizens to take part in the election process and I am proud to say my state of MN usually leads the nation in voter turnout.

Posted by: Tripp on February 6, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

I know it is hard when one becomes disillusioned, I really do, but what in the world ever made you think the US is a democracy?

Why then were people like Josh Marshall engaging in tirade after tirade about "voter suppression" in Nevada, with the suit against the Culinary Workers union? Why was the Obama campaign, and John Kerry, and who knows who else so filled with outrage over the injustice of it all?

Funny, though, how the same parties won't seem to say a peep about any outrage in throwing away millions of votes in MI and FL. That somehow seems not to be a terribly important issue. No "voter suppression" there, I guess. You'll have to ask them, though, how they might possibly justify such a seemingly hypocritical stand.

Look, I realize that the primary process is only a pretty corrupted version of democracy. I think that caucuses unto themselves represent a corrupted form of democracy. But that does NOT mean that there aren't violations of democracy that go way past tolerance.

And throwing away millions of votes because of some deal made by power brokers is such a violation.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

"and how to redress the injustices visited on voters themselves."

People in FL and MI didn't get denied their rights; they have no right to participate in primaries. The parties are private organizations. If they wanted to, they could simply annoint a candidate. There are various reasons this doesn't occur (anymore ... usually), but they are in no way, shape, or form required to let us say jack-squat. The party made rules. Those rules could be anything they wanted them to be. It decided Florida and Michigan would not seat delegates. It could have decided that only people from Valdosta GA could participate at all. You, me, the guy across the street: we have no expectation that it had to listen to us, any more than we have an expectation of having a say with the Augusta Country Club. You can go vote all you want, but the party isn't required to listen to you just because this would be more democratic; it would be nice, but you have no expectation of it.

Posted by: phalamir on February 6, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Why then were people like Josh Marshall engaging in tirade after tirade about "voter suppression" in Nevada, with the suit against the Culinary Workers union?"

Good question. It's because hillary was trying to change the rules after they had been generally agreed upon. Sound familiar?

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Good question. It's because hillary was trying to change the rules after they had been generally agreed upon. Sound familiar?

No, excuse me, that was NOT the fundamental outrage expressed, was it? You don't get a lot of mileage out of the simple claim that one side is "trying to change the rules". Instead, the outrage was specifically over voter suppression. That is appealing to a bedrock principle of democracy. That sounds so much deeper and more dignified and more compelling than saying, "They're trying to change the rules" -- because maybe the rules weren't exactly cast in stone to begin with, and haggling over rules in politics just doesn't get a lot of resonance.

No, Josh Marshall and the Obama campaign and John Kerry all knew that they'd have to gin up outrage over more basic principles of justice if the media would carry their message. And so they did.

But somehow those same principles don't seem so important to them when it comes to the millions of voters in MI and FL.

Awfully convenient for them, of course!

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0,

But that does NOT mean that there aren't violations of democracy that go way past tolerance.

Again with this talk of an idealized 'democracy.'

My limited understanding of the Independence Party tells me they allow internet voting in their primary and they do not have any super delegates or caucuses, but I could be wrong.

Posted by: Tripp on February 6, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'll ask you the question you failed to answer before - Do you really fail to understand the difference here, or are you being purposefully obtuse?

It's actually quite simple. There seem to be lots of people here willing to explain it to you, if you're willing to listen.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

OR.. maybe you're just trying to make hillary supporters (generally good, smart, informed people) a bad name by flailing about?

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

doug,

If you really can't understand the point I made in response, I'm afraid I'm not the one who's being obtuse here.

In general, "changing the rules" means very little when there may be more important issues afoot. Electing a nominee is NOT just a competition with a million mostly arbitrary rules that all entrants must abide by. Underlying that process are more basic issues, including, obviously, principles of democracy. In the end, it is the people's will that should be served, even if imperfectly. Some violations of that principle simply must be corrected. If you can't see that point, I'm not sure what to say to you.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Let me directly address you on the limited merits of your argument then -

1) You're wrong that the complaint about nevada was entirely about supression, josh in particular was quite clear in that his opposition was based on the lawsuit coming AFTER the obama endorsement. In short -- they were trying to change the rules. So maybe your complaint here is that they should have spun it less as a suppression issue (which is was) and more as a change-the-rules. Fine, whatever. I don't really see what difference the particular political spin of the day makes in this issue.

2) No one is arguing that the mi/fl results are perfect. In addition, no one is arguing that the nomination process is perfect. We all accept that neither is. Arguing this point is a complete straw man. However - Given where we are NOW, there is no fair way to add those votes in. That's the reality. Howard Dean would have effectively to come out and say "i don't like the election results, so i'm going to change the rules." If that change moves the election in hillary's favor, the backlash would be tremendous. I'd be happy to have hillary as president, but not under those conditions.

Now. What about this is so hard to understand? Please offer something NOT repeated from your previous comments.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

i should add- the time to correct any voilations in principle in mi and fl has past. It's too late. It was a hard decision, with no "good" answers. Revisiting that decision would be a much larger violation on the process.

I'm going to go now, and leave the other commentors to chew you up for a while.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Whoever gets the most delegates should get the nomination, and I will support them. If either gets the nomination based solely in an advantage of super delegate support or in Hillary's case, by seating the Michigan or the Florida delegates, not only will the DNC never get another dime from me, I will actively campaign for McCain.

I have to say, this kind of whiny-child behavior was one of the things that solidified my vote for Clinton. All the people stomping their little feet and saying that if she's the nominee they'll not vote, or write in someone, or vote for McCain.

Posted by: tavella on February 6, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

"I have to say, this kind of whiny-child behavior was one of the things that solidified my vote for Clinton. All the people stomping their little feet and saying that if she's the nominee they'll not vote, or write in someone, or vote for McCain. "

Vote as you like, but i hate this argument. There's whiny-children supporting all issues. Voting based on who you think the supporters of a candidate are is a mistake.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK
But that does NOT mean that there aren't violations of democracy that go way past tolerance.

Yes, like, say, changing the meaning of an election after people have voted. Michigan and Florida moved their elections in full knowledge that Democratic Party rules prohibited that move, and imposed delegate loss as a consequence. Michigan and Florida voters went to the polls (or chose not to go to the polls) in full knowledge that the Democratic Party had decided to enforce the rule in light of the violations by each respective state.

Changing the meaning and import of a vote after the voters have voted is a gross violation of democratic principles, and yet, that is exactly what you are advocating. Of course, you've pretty much demonstrated that you'll argue anything in support of your preferred candidate, regardless of whether or not it makes moral, rational, or any other kind of sense.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 6, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

I have to say, this kind of whiny-child behavior was one of the things that solidified my vote for Clinton. All the people stomping their little feet and saying that if she's the nominee they'll not vote, or write in someone, or vote for McCain.

LMAO. Voting for someone in order to spite the supporters of their opponent certainly isn't whiny-childish behavior, is it?

You Obama haters certainly take the cake when it comes to self-delusional childish behavior, but I certainly haven't allowed it to effect *my* vote.

Posted by: Disputo on February 6, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

About tiebreakers, New Mexico has a rather quaint wildwest tradition of settling tied elections with a hand of poker. I would think that would be percieved as fairer than superdelegates.

Florida, and Michigan, wanted to join the stampede towrds early primaries, and called deans bluff. We have to live with this highly imperfect result.

In the future we should agree to have either a national primary -or to have a random drawing of primary dates. Then we can both control the length of the election, and restore fairness to the process.

Posted by: bigTom on February 6, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

"random drawing of primary dates"

I like this.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

There is no question though that this whole MI/FL issue is a terrible mess which the Democratic party should have resolved before these "primaries" were held. At the convention, a majority of delegates can vote to seat any additional delegates, and this will presumably happen if Hillary is ahead at that time (she will not need the additional delegates, but will do it to make sure there are no hard feelings in these two states). If Obama is ahead, and the delegations are not seated (which is the correct thing to happen), a lot of people who voted in these two states will be unhappy and may not vote in November.

The real question is, why did these primaries take place? What is wrong with the governance of the party that allowed this to happen? Is it absolutely clear that the Democratic party has the legal power to strip states of their delegates for moving the election date? There seems to be a failure of rules somewhere no matter what happens.

Posted by: JS on February 6, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 burns with fervor for democracy now that his lady's inevitability is in doubt.

How touching.

Posted by: Lucy on February 6, 2008 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

LMAO. Voting for someone in order to spite the supporters of their opponent certainly isn't whiny-childish behavior, is it?

You Obama haters certainly take the cake when it comes to self-delusional childish behavior, but I certainly haven't allowed it to effect *my* vote.

I have nothing against Obama; if he wins the nomination I will vote for him without qualm. But I don't take seriously anyone who says they'll campaign for McCain if Clinton wins the nomination. They aren't voting on principles, because anyone who does not think that Clinton is vastly closer to Obama on each and every major issue isn't actually looking at the issues, they are looking for feel-good fuzzy. And after eight years of Bush, I don't give a shit about the feel good fuzzies, the "I'll vote for Nader because there's no difference between Gore and Bush" morons. They can all go die in a pit.

Posted by: tavella on February 6, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

…why shouldn't the party elders, many of whom have to run on the same ticket as the presidential nominee, get a little extra say in the process?

That’s letting the foxes guard the henhouse.

Posted by: antiphone on February 6, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 6, 2008 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

A few observations as a Michigan Democrat who holds no office with the party:
1. The state party tried to move up its primary date for important reasons: a) the disproportionate influence wielded by Iowa and New Hampshire in the primary process; b) the unusual economic pain directly assumed by Michigan as a result of the last two presidential elections. Whatever difficulties it imposes on this election narrative, Michigan's challenge will turn out ultimately to be good for the party and good for the country, as a more fair way of scheduling future presidential primaries is finally very likely. Michigan's Democratic Party deserves respect for driving this process, not a smug dismissal for trying to circumvent "the rules."
2. If neither Obama nor Clinton has a majority of delegates after the primaries, the nomination will hinge on uncommitted delegates regardless of whether Michigan or Florida's delegations are seated. So why wouldn't it be fair in such an instance to simply let the candidates compete from scratch for these states' uncommitted delegates as they would for any other? (Michigan consistently ranks at or near the bottom of all states in the proportion of federal expenditures it receives versus federal revenues it contributes. Frankly, we could use some attention.)
3. Whether a thwarted candidate's supporters decide to boycott the party's nominee in the general election depends far less on the delegate count from primaries than on the candidates' acceptance of the final delegate count. If only to preserve their own continued influence as Democrats, neither Clinton nor Obama will throw the party under the train if he/she fails to win the nomination.
4. Uncommitted delegates from Florida and Michigan could provide an important safety valve for the Democrats if either Clinton or Obama is embroiled in a scandal or controversy before the convention. Likewise they could confirm a groundswell of support that strengthens the party's chances in November.

Posted by: beejeez on February 6, 2008 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

tavella et al - you're right of course, but i think in the original post, the concern was not that clinton might win, but HOW she might win. If she won by forcing a legal action to include mi/fl, that's going to turn a lot of people off - In that (unlikely and hypothetical) case i could understand why someone would boycott.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

simply let the candidates compete from scratch

beejeez, if this means new primaries in these two states I don't think anyone here would object (except perhaps frankly0). But to retro-actively declare the earlier "beauty contests" as valid elections would be wrong IMO.

Thanks for the perspective, very good points. As I wrote above, I think this was a Democratic party malfunction and there is no pretty way out of it -- except perhaps new primaries.

Posted by: JS on February 6, 2008 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, franklyo does have a valid question - what are the voters of a state, where the legislature has ignored the rulings of the national party, supposed to do? The primary dates were scheduled by the legislature, not via referenda. These voters were not consulted on the changes. Through no fault of their own, they have been disenfranchised in the selection of their party's nominee.
One can very easily argue that WHEN a state holds its primary is nothing to be determined by the national party; especially since it is the states that pay for the costs of the primaries. Primary dates are set by the legislatures of the states, NOT by the national Democratic Party. If anyone is to be taken to the woodshed it is the politicians in Michigan and Florida that ignored the ruling of the national party, having been warned that the delegates would no be seated.
And that raises the question: why did the national party issue such a warning when they had no idea how many states might ignore it? How many states were the national party going to deseat (if that's a word) to back up its threat?
Someone in a posting above wrote that in a democracy you followed the rules. I always thought that in a democracy the people wrote the rules; not a group of unelected "leaders". I get ballots from my credit union but I've yet to receive a ballot from the DNC.
Something will have to be done at the convention about seating the delegates from these states. Because I can think of no better way to kill the Democratic vote in those two states (at least), than to tell the Democratic voters of Michigan and Florida that they are neither wanted nor needed when it comes to choosing the party's nominee for president.

Posted by: Doug on February 6, 2008 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

I just realized that I misread your comment -- by "uncommitted delegates" did you mean that only the superdelegates of these states should be included?

Posted by: JS on February 6, 2008 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

doug,

You just can't manage to meet the burden of an argument, can you?

It's simply false and dishonest to say that Josh Marshall, as well as John Kerry, didn't base their case against the Nevada suit most importantly on the concept that it represented "voter suppression". John Kerry even had a diary on DailyKos with "voter suppression" in its title. And Josh absolutely made a big deal of the assertion that one thing we Democrats ALL agreed on was that "voter suppression" was a terrible thing that we must fight. Why do you refuse to be honest about that?

And what you also refuse to be honest about is the fact that there is something terribly wrong with simply throwing out the votes of millions of people, as we have done in MI and FL. You can't come up with anything approaching a rational and moral argument for doing so. All you and your fellow Obama supporters can do is keep repeating yourself to the effect that them's the rules.

Yes, as I had granted, it's not perfect to have elections like those in MI and FL, and it would be better if we can schedule NEW elections under more reasonable conditions. Failing that, however, you simply don't throw out the vote of millions of people because party bigwigs had a spat, and they decided they would be happy to ignore what the entire voting population of two major states wanted for their nominee. There's no moral justification for that move.

And while the elections in MI and FL were distorted, it's hardly as though caucuses, with their bizarre and intrusive rules, themselves are pure, for Christ's sake. Insisting that an actual election must be "pure" in the face of our acceptance of caucuses is absurd. Someone suggested that MI delegates be doled out proportionately to results of exit polls. Certainly the FL vote can be taken as is. As "corrupted" as these results are, they are vastly fairer than simply suppressing the entire vote of the electorate of two major states. You have to make choices, and I don't see how any reasonable and fair person can choose simply to throw out the vote altogether -- even though it may suit the purposes of their favored candidate. Again, you make no serious argument that throwing such results out are fairer: you simply assert it. I'm afraid you're required to do a bit more than that if you are going to meet the burden of the argument.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

In general, with regard to the "voter suppression" argument with regard to Nevada, it was obviously the charge that really got picked up in the media and was clearly pushed by Obama surrogates, such as Kerry, and Josh Marshall (who in my book effectively also counts as such a person).

Here is Kerry's lengthy column expressing his outrage over "voter suppression".

Posted by: frankly0 on February 6, 2008 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

In the case of Nevada, if it's true that the casino caucus sites would have made it easier for some people to vote compared to others, I think Clinton was correct to object. In my view, equal access to voting places and the same rules applying to all is the most important consideration.

But this was very much about "the rules", and BEFORE the election.

Arguing that rules are not important, and that the status of an election can be changed after it has occurred is far different. But as I wrote above, I think that this is inexcusable for the Dem party to have done. Either new primaries, or inclusion of uncommitted delegates as beejeez suggests might be fair though imperfect solutions.

frankly0, you shouldn't assume that Obama supporters decide on the fairness of an election system on the basis of whether it favors their candidate.

Posted by: JS on February 6, 2008 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

And incidentally I think all elections should take place on a weekend -- as most other countries have them. Not everyone can make it to the voting place on a workday.

Posted by: JS on February 6, 2008 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

franklyO, like Sharon, swan, & many others before me over the past week or 2, I am sick to death of your whiney bullshit. Let us be perfectly honest, shall we? If Obama had been the winner of the MI & FL primaries, you would not be making the same argument at all. Just like your candidate, you seem to think the rules are meant for everyone else but for you & those you support.

I am a Florida voter who skipped this primary because it didn't count. I will be royally pissed off if the rules YOUR candidate agreed to are changed to give her the nomination. If she is the nominee w/o reseating our delegates, she will definitely get my vote. Otherwise, probably not.

Posted by: bob in fla on February 6, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

OK. Now that THAT is out of my system, another point to ponder.

In the General Election, roughly a dozen parties will be on the ballot. Only 2 of those parties use any form of primary election &/or caucus. Between the Republicans & Democrats, the Democratic Party process is still the most democratic of the 2.

Posted by: bob in fla on February 6, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

One more little tidbit. The Republican Party also took action against FL & MI; they stripped half of the delegates from each of those states. But I don't hear the GOP voters screaming their asses off like I see here & elsewhere among the Dems.

Posted by: bob in fla on February 6, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

beejeez,

This election showed that NH and IA did not hold disproportionate power. If anything, the late states now have all the power. If MI and FL were in mid-February instead of mid-January*, they'd have far more power. They tried to call Dean's bluff, lost and now have egg on their faces because the late states have more influence. Come convention time, the late states' results will be fresh on people's minds and guide the momentum.

* Even if their delegates counted.

Posted by: Mo on February 6, 2008 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Let me try AGAIN to address your arugment directly. Note that you are not giving me the same charity.

The decision to remove fl and mi was made long before votes were cast. So just to move things along, let's agree on this- The decision to not count fl and mi was the worst thing to ever happen, ever. Good.. happy? Let's make sure that a much better decision is made next time.

Ok.. Now that we've established that a horrible set of rules have been put in place, we're left with the task of what to do now. Your argument is to either count the votes as they stand, or vote again. Both are bad, for the reasons i began to lay out above. You have my entire argument above to address. Go right ahead, and please don't repeat yourself this time.

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Just to be REALLY REALLY sure i'm addressing your arguments...

"It's simply false and dishonest to say that Josh Marshall, as well as John Kerry...."

straw man. Never said that. never mentioned kerry in fact. I pointed out there was more to the complaint than just suppression. The bigger refutation is REALLY that you're equivocating based on the fact that both cases had some element of voter suppression. That does NOT make them the same.

"refuse to be honest ... terribly wrong ... throwing out the votes of millions of people"

It depends, sometimes it might be appropriate, other times not. Here's one example that trivially proves it - if millions of people vote the day after the election, it's appropriate to throw out the votes.

In this specific case, the votes are counted and reported, but there aren't any delegates to send. If you want to call this "throwing out votes" you're equivocating, but fine, let's call it that. It's appropriate, because following through with these rules is better in this case than trying to change them mid-election. Just like if obama tried to say "hey a bunch of people forgot to vote for me, we should let them now." Letting them vote would be more democratic in a sense, but it would not be fair or appropriate.

"people because party bigwigs had a spat"

This is an over simplification.

"primary > caucus"

This is a non-sequitur.

Did i miss anything?

Posted by: doug on February 6, 2008 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Only 2 of those parties use any form of primary election &/or caucus.

FYI, in IL the Greens participated statewide in the Feb 5th primary.

Posted by: Disputo on February 7, 2008 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

franklyO, like Sharon, swan, & many others before me over the past week or 2, I am sick to death of your whiney bullshit.

Past week or two? frankly0 has been whining about Obama for the last yr. He once admitted that his aversion to the man is purely irrational, but over the intervening months has wrapped his hatred in an ever increasingly sophisticated Gordian knot of sophistry. He's unreachable at this point.

Posted by: Disputo on February 7, 2008 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

Meaning there's no getting through to him, or meaning he's hiding somewhere?

Posted by: doug on February 7, 2008 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

SuperDelegates are CRIMINAL.

The entire concept is ridiculous and contrarian to democracy.

If the DNC allows a reversal based on SuperDelegate votes --- they had better prepare to be upended.

Posted by: PulSamsara on February 7, 2008 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Terry McCauliffe is a superdelegate, though hae has not been elected to anything. Does anyone really want Terry McCauliffe deciding who the next president will be?

Posted by: autolyse on February 7, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

You know what's funny?

If the delegates (super or otherwise) end up deciding the nomination...congratulations. You've now done what basically every other single democracy on the entire fricken planet does.

Believe it or not, this does not result in the end of freedom as you know it, does not mean the inevitable doom of democracy. Those of us who've lived through that sort of thing many, many times can assure you our governments aren't about to fall into tyrannical oppression any time soon.

Quite honestly the panic-stricken angst and drama is hysterical. You've already got a mish-mash system, what with caucuses, open primaries, closed primaries, assorted methods of proportioning delegates or not.

What about the poor citizens of states with closed primaries? Isn't forcing them to be members of the party before they can vote sort of communist? And the states with open primaries, isn't it unfair that people who aren't even members of your party get a say in who your nominee is?

Grow the hell up.

Posted by: Keith on February 7, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

I must pose this question to the Obama camp: Is this election about personalities or is it about reclaiming our country from corruption and illegality? I have heard HRC,Bill, John and Elizabeth all say they would unequivocally support our nominee. I have heard Barack and Michelle say they would "have to think about it" and would/could not commit their support. What is THAT all about? Uniters? Maybe....

Posted by: democratICnproud on February 7, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman loses superdelagate status
..Lieberman's endorsement of Republican John McCain disqualifies him as a super-delegate to the Democratic National Convention under what is informally known as the Zell Miller rule...The Democrats responded with a rule disqualifying any Democrat who crosses the aisle from being a super delegate. Lieberman will not be replaced, DiNardo said.

Tsk tsk

Posted by: Mike on February 7, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

As I recall, the last time superdelegates selected the candidate, they chose Mondale over Gary Hart. Mondale had more delegates than Hart going into the convention, and it was on that basis that most superdelegates voted for him. This time around, I think a similar scenario will unfold. Either Obama or Clinton will have a slight majority of delegates, and there will be enormous pressure on the superdelegates to support the leader. That being said, I think it a stretch, but possible, that Clinton could lead going in but Obama get the nod from superdelegates if a convincing case could be made that he would be far more electable...so convincing that it would have to be clear that Clinton was essentially UNelectable. However it plays out, Clinton's attempt to count FL and MI delegates will go nowhere, as everyone knows such a move would split the party and many Obama supporters wouldn't vote if she "cheats" to a win. BTW, franklyO, I kind of wish changing the rules after the game is over were okay, my Tarheels might have had a chance against Duke last night!

Posted by: balthus on February 7, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is a big problem because short of implosion by the McCain campaign I don't think Hillary can beat him. He will garner vastly more independents where Hillary will garner essentially none. Some Republicans will split and vote Obama. Republicans will absolutely not split and vote Hillary, no matter what crackpots like Ann Coulter say. Hillary is a polarizing figure. It ignores political reality to suggest that Democrats will uniformly vote Democrat over Republican. Democrats aren't as "team over country" as Republicans are.

I'm one of those that cares about the candidate being the right candidate, not merely beating the other party. And it seems like most of the country really does want to put the Bush-Clinton years behind them once and for all, it's just enough Democrats are stuck in the past. I'm constantly astonished how many pro-Hillary Democrats actually use the phrase "A vote for Hillary is a vote for Bill!" Screw that. I want new blood in there. I don't want the same old crusty crap. If that's what the establishment does through super-delegates I will be pissed. I'd rather vote for Cap'N'Crunch than either Hillary or McCain.

Posted by: chrismurphy on February 7, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

hillary can totally beat mccain. She'd push mostly from the base and get a larger democratic turnout. Independents aren't always the only key to victory.

democratICnproud, that's a false dichotomy - and i'm not sure who in the "camp" is reading these comments.

Posted by: doug on February 7, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if the lieberman endorsement would have been a political kiss of death.

Posted by: doug on February 7, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not go too far with the hand-wringing. Either Democratic candidate should beat McCain very handily. He's too old, crippled and wants to perpetuate the Iraq war indefinitely, whereas 70% of Americans want us out. Also, bear in mind how badly the MSM wants it to look like this will be a real horse race. What they consistently fail to mention is how many more Democrats are voting in the primaries than Repugs. It's a HUGE differential, literally millions of voters. They also ignore the vast fundraising differential. Bottom line, our side is energized, theirs is not. They've got another Bob Dole on their hands, and we've got either the first woman or first African-American to head a ticket.

Posted by: balthus on February 7, 2008 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Every four years we are shocked! shocked! to find out how profoundly undemocratic our system is, and then we all go back to sleep...

Superdelegates are as good a way as any to tiebreak a brokered convention, which, quite frankly, would be a big improvement over these coronations we've had instead of real conventions over the last several decades...scripted programmed media events even the media doesn't cover...

Too boring!

I can remember, as young child, the excitement of the old floor fights. Fannie Lou Hamer standing up for the Mississipi Freedom Democratic party against LBJ, Dan Rather getting roughed up by Daley's thugs in '68...

Let's have the good old fashioned street fight, live on TV.

I go with Bill Clinton...

I kinda like watching Hillary and Barack fight.

Sure beats all this precious pearlclutching media driven crap about codewords and nuance and gendercards and racecards and electibility.

Posted by: wobbly on February 7, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly