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Tilting at Windmills

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February 10, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

DEAD MAN WALKING....I know I'm repeating myself, but the rebuke of John McCain by Republican voters tonight has been stunning. Sure, Kansas and Louisiana are prime Mike Huckabee territory, so maybe you can rationalize McCain's losses there. But what about Washington state? McCain managed only 26% of the caucus vote there, barely edging out not only Huckabee, but Ron Paul and Mitt Romney as well — the first a protest candidate and the second a no-show. These were caucus goers, not primary voters, and they knew perfectly well that Romney had pulled out of the race, but they voted for him anyway. Why? To thumb their noses at McCain, presumably.

(Did you get that? 26%! For a presumptive nominee!)

Bottom line: this has been a disastrous night for McCain. Sure, he'll win the nomination eventually, but he looks like a goner in the general election. He's either going to be forced to spend so much time pandering to pissed-off conservatives that he loses the independent vote, or else he's going to beg for independents and wake up on November 5th to find out that half his base decided to stay home rather than vote for him. He's screwed either way. This is a mighty narrow tightrope he's walking, and it looks like he's going to be fighting gale-force crosswinds the whole way.

On the Democratic side, it was a very impressive clean sweep for Barack Obama, including two big caucus wins in Nebraska and Washington. Which reminds me of something: I'm a little puzzled about Obama's consistent success in caucuses, which usually seems to get chalked up to his background in community organizing. Somehow, though, that doesn't really seem like a persuasive explanation. After all, I'm sure Hillary Clinton's team knows perfectly well how to organize in a caucus state. And yet Obama has won every caucus state but one, most of them by wide margins. Does anybody have a good explanation for this? (And no, "Obama is teh awesome" doesn't count as a good explanation.)

Kevin Drum 1:42 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (216)

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Obama is teh awesome

Posted by: Boorring on February 10, 2008 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

Is it possible that HRC, not thinking that the caucas states were that important (she was THE nominee after all), just did not originally devote resources into those states? But now she is involved in a knife fight in a dark alley and its too late.

Posted by: Keith G on February 10, 2008 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

But seriously, I'll never understand the vehemence these stupid Republican fanatics feel against John McCain. He is their best candidate, but they hate the fact that he doesn't hate Mexicans enough or something. Yes, a cheap shot, but here I was naively thinking that, oh, a war hero with a long list of experience, a hawkish stance, and broad appeal would be a good thing.

Whatever, it's their grave. We can be bipartisan in digging that.

Posted by: Boorring on February 10, 2008 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

I think the best explanation is a combination of a) Obama's team put a lot of resources into organizing the caucuses and b) Clinton's people decided not to contest them. You can't organize in a week.

Why did the two different candidates make those decisions? Well, I bet that Obama's focus on organizing and his belief in participatory democracy had something to do with a).

As for b), I think it will go down as the blunder of the campaign. But, Clinton had to stem the bleeding on the west and east coasts for Super Tuesday with 20 million less dollars.

Posted by: PTS on February 10, 2008 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

Further.....like it or not, inspiration is key to getting "fannies in the seats" at caucuses, and good as she is, Hillary just is not as inpiring as BHO.

Posted by: Keith G on February 10, 2008 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

A couple of things: (1) Obama tends to be more popular in the great plains and interior west which account for most caucuses (he won pretty big in the Utah primary, for example), (2) Obama voters are more enthusiastic in most states, (3) Obama voters are more likely to be high information voters, (4) in most caucus states, Obama voters are less likely to work odd shifts or have childcare obligations that they can't get out of, (5) honestly it does seem like Obama's campaign puts more effort into caucus states (with the exception of Iowa and Nevada) whereas the Clinton team just doesn't seem to be trying too hard sometimes, - how many Super Tuesday caucus states did Clinton even visit? (6) Obama seems to have more grassroots support and organization in caucus states and fact probably connected to points 2 and 3 above.

Posted by: ikl on February 10, 2008 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

I have no idea, but Obama was the overwhelming favorite at my caucus site here in Seattle. Attendance was more than double that of the 2004 primary caucus, and Obama drew the support of virtually every demographic in my fairly diverse neighborhood.

Posted by: Casey on February 10, 2008 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

I get the sense that PTS may be right. On the other hand, perhaps the Clinton team did some polling and figured out that a lot of the caucus states were a lost cause anyway and decided to put resources elsewhere.

Posted by: ikl on February 10, 2008 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

This will be an interesting test of the national media. By and large, they adore McCain and yet this is a pretty clear repudiation of him by his own party's voters. Can they ignore it? Spin it away? Any bets?

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

I think another reason Obama does well in caucuses, which is the same reason Huckabee (and Ron Paul) do well in causuces: a larger subset of Obama voters are very committed to him, and thus more likely to go to the trouble of caucusing. I think a larger subset of Clinton's supporters are more passive. There are some passionate Clinton supporters, but they are rarer.

I causused today in Washington, and it takes a lot of planning, research into finding your site, and commitment to go. If I wasn't very strongly supporting Obama, I just wouldn't have committed three hours on a Saturday to go sit in an elementary school gym.

Another note: I didn't see a single man in my precinct who caucused for Clinton. The Clinton supporters, who were about 20% of my precinct, we all women, many of them also hispanic.

Posted by: BRM on February 10, 2008 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

This is about like if, say, Obama had dropped out a few weeks ago, and all these states went to Kucinich.

Clinton-hate ain't got nothin' on McCain hate.

Posted by: memekiller on February 10, 2008 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Why are people surprised about Republicans hating McCain. In many ways, McCain is the Republican version of Joe Lieberman of say 2004, a man who's made his reputation by thumbing his nose at his own party. How would Democrats, especially hardcore Democrats, have felt is Lieberman had been cruising to the nomination in 2004? Would we really have been thrilled if he'd been our best chance at defeating Bush? Also, much of McCain's appeal resides in rejecting many of the GOP's basic planks such as tax cuts and immigration. Finally, conservatives often live in their own little bubble, witness the 2006 election when many Republicans claim they lost for not being conservative enough. If you really feel that way, how happy can you be with McCain as your standard bearer? Of course, the problem is if you're a Republican how could you be happy with any of the people who decided to run for the Republican nomination.

Posted by: Guscat on February 10, 2008 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

The press surely isn't talking about it, but caucuses seriously disenfranchise working class and older voters. I know personally that in Iowa, near half of Hillary's supporters were older women who could not make it to the caucus for fear of the drive, the weather, etc. Working class people often can't or won't show up to a caucus if it requires getting a babysitter or missing a night shift. Hillary wins primaries, and people should really think about this before we look to cult-like Obamamania to tell us who's strong and who isn't.

Posted by: Nate on February 10, 2008 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

He's screwed either way.

Au contraire!

Factor in Democrat self-destruction, Rovian hi-jinks, rampant political amnesia, a courtier press and ready yourself for eight years of CoC McCain followed by President Mitt Romney taking us through to Jan. '25.

Posted by: Paz Ribero on February 10, 2008 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

Thers, over at Firedoglake has the ultimate "Your candidate sucks" post. It's an absolute hoot and well worth a read. A sample:

...

You need to admit that your favorite candidate sucks.

I fully realize that this may be a very hard thing for you to do. I understand. After all, it is quite clear that the chief reason you support your favorite candidate is because of your own personal failings and inadequacies.

I am not unsympathetic. There are clearly no rational reasons to support your favorite candidate, so it is only logical to rummage in the danker, smellier corners of your soul for the origins of your bizarre and inexplicable preference of a presidential candidate who sucks. Please be assured however that I do not judge you harshly for the fact that you surely like to molest squirrels while high on crack cocaine. This is likely only the melancholy if inevitable consequence of your upbringing in a family of dysfunctional, alcoholic leprechauns. With therapy, you may heal. Perhaps.

Or maybe you support your favorite candidate, who sucks, merely because you are very young. I admire your enthusiasm. I do. Come here while I give you an affectionate pat on the head and congratulate you on your puppy-like if unreflective capering and frolicking. It is to your credit that you are too wide-eyed, naïve, and childish to comprehend how badly you have been deceived by the empty promises of your favorite candidate. Who, I must soberly inform you, sucks. Now scamper off and do as you are told by your betters.

...

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Latte sippers love social events. Caucuses are social events.

But seriously, the real issue is that there is, plain as day, some very important selection factor involved in who shows up to these events. Maybe unsophisticated working class voters simply don't feel comfortable with caucuses. Obama has done relatively poorly in actual elections with such voters, and caucuses might be like a voter suppression technique to keep them out. Yes, they can go if they really wanted to, but the bar for participation is such that they don't feel comfortable with the process. That's how voter suppression techniques often work -- just make the venue one the undesirable sort of people tend to avoid.

In Wash State, polls showed Obama up by perhaps 5%. He wins by well over 30%. How can this be a good sign for the notion that the voice of the people is being expressed?

The reality is that if Obama doesn't start to win actual elections in major states with diverse populations (which here means that the states are disproportionately dominated by his core African-American demographic), it's likely going to be hard for the average American voter to feel that he has really established himself as the rightful winner of the nomination.

I just don't think that the average voter has any real respect for caucuses as a democratic process -- surely they are mostly anachronisms in this day, and should be made officially obsolete, just as we have done already with brokered conventions. At bare minimum, they should be reduced in number so that they have no potential to be decisive in the final result.

In the end, legitimacy in our democracy hangs on the sense that the true voice of the people has been allowed to express itself. I really do hope that if Obama wins the nomination, it won't be on the back of disproportionately large caucus wins, but on major elections in diverse states that he will have won. Maybe that will yet happen, but it certainly hasn't so far.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 10, 2008 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

Because those primaries with those African-Americans, they just don't count.

Posted by: PTS on February 10, 2008 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

+1 to Thers.

Posted by: anonymous on February 10, 2008 at 2:10 AM | PERMALINK

Today was my first caucus ever, and it was an amazing experience. It is truly participatory democracy. I agree that they do tend to scare away working class and older voters, but they aren't without their virtues.

Mostly, selecting a candidate is different from selecting the actual winner. Parties are in charge of picking their candidates. One good way to measure the strength of a candidate is to see who has a more passionate base of support. Almost any person who votes in a Democratic primary or caucus is going to vote in the general election for the Democratic nominee, whoever it is. But to win the general you have to appeal beyond primary voters. It makes sense to think a candidate who draws more passionate support will be able to bring in more independents and swing voters who don't vote in primaries or caucuses. To the extent independents have been voting in the Democratic caucus, it's been independents voting for Obama (and they'll almost certainly vote for Obama in the general). Maybe a few Republican nuts have voted in the Dem primary (or caucus) just to spite Clinton, but those are few, and they sure as hell aren't going to vote Democratic in the general.

Posted by: BRM on February 10, 2008 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

Well, BRM, frankly0 just called you a latte-sipping elitist African-American. Just like those latte-sipping elitist African Americans primary states like Idaho, Minnesota, etc...

Posted by: anonymous on February 10, 2008 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0 - do you mean states like MO? This is about the most representative state so far and Obama won a primary there!

Also, do we really want to nominate someone based on the views of low information core Democrats with fond memories of her husband's administration? Nothing wrong with being this sort of voter, but somehow I don't think that having a lot of them in your base is a good sign for November . . .

Remember, the views of high-information voters might be unrepresentative in certain ways, but they might also be a leading indicator. Most Democrats already know and like HRC so it is not surprising that low-information, low enthusiasm voters tend to vote for her. That doesn't mean that some of them won't end up liking Obama just as much if her is their parties candidate for six months or so.

And don't even get me started on the views of independent voters in swing states . . .

Posted by: ikl on February 10, 2008 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

Because those primaries with those African-Americans, they just don't count.

If African-Americans are disproportionately represented in every actual election he might win a major state, how can that establish a sense of legitimacy for Obama? Do you really want to say that the votes of other people shouldn't count every bit as much as that of African-Americans? If he systematically won major states in which African-Americans are represented only according to their usual proportions, that would be different. And that's what I'm getting at.

And that is the ultimate question: why isn't Obama doing so? If he's as much supported by the people at large as his supporters want to claim, and as the caucuses, if they were legitimate indices of people's sentiments, would suggest, then he should be winning elections in major states with diverse populations. Yet he is not -- at least, to date.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 10, 2008 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

Or Georgia - that was a big win in a diverse state. IL doesn't count, I guess, but Obama's popularity downstate is pretty interesting . . . it suggests that voters in some of the areas going to Clinton now will warm up to Obama as they know him better.

Posted by: ikl on February 10, 2008 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

Hah! I don't drink coffee, I'm not elitist, although I am an upper middle class white male in graduate school, and that might make me "elitist" by default.

Posted by: BRM on February 10, 2008 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

ikl,

Well, MO would be the best example of such a state for Obama. Yet his win there was infinitesimal. And it was surely skewed to a degree by the fact that it neighbors his own state IL (Certainly in NH, for example, Massachusetts politicians have always received a disproportionate number of votes in the primary, as another example).

Why no other wins? Why no larger wins?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 10, 2008 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

Well, frankly0, maybe you can take your racist fuckwittery elsewhere for tonight, at least until the Kentucky whisky wears off.

Obama's numbers hold up very well among other demographics and you're holding his popularity among blacks as a *negative*.

White robes and pointy white hats much?

Kthxbye

Posted by: anonymous on February 10, 2008 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think I saw a single African-American at my caucus in Seattle. Of course, historically blacks weren't allowed to live north of the ship canal, and there still aren't many in this neighborhood to vote at all.

Anyway, the fact that lots of Democrats in California prefer Clinton doesn't mean Obama won't do well in California. Most Clinton supporters are Democratic supporters. Clinton has the most name recognition among people who don't pay close attention. Those people will vote for Obama if he has the (D) beside his name.

Posted by: BRM on February 10, 2008 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Obama dominates caucuses for the same reason he dominates the blogosphere - highly motivated and educated supporters with free time on their hands.

Posted by: Petey on February 10, 2008 at 2:25 AM | PERMALINK

This will be an interesting test of the national media.

That test will come tomorrow on all the Sunday shows. No down time for the McCain team to spin the results, no primaries or caucuses outside of those and probably no news worth noting to offer a distraction. I think tomorrow will be a rather true showing of just how far the media is willing to go to support McCain.

Posted by: tom.a on February 10, 2008 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

BRM -- good points. You're right, caucuses make more sense for selecting nominees than elections. Caucuses are a good measure of which candidate has the biggest pool of voters who will actually volunteer, canvass, cold call, etc. Look at Hillary with her money woes: she has legions of voters but that's all they do, vote. Until very recently they haven't been making financial contributions.

Posted by: Elliott on February 10, 2008 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0 - guess what? African-Americans are a big part of the population in most "major states." So it looks like you are asking for something that is pretty hard to do - win in Mass . . or maybe CA. That is a sample of two. Hard to think of much else. Maybe Wisconsin if you think that is "major."

But I don't really think that you arguing in good faith. You applied a primary test to get rid of many of Obama's best states and then a "major state" test to get rid of a lot of the rest (CT, DL UT). I assume that IL doesn't count either since it would be an obvious counterexample otherwise.

The truth of the matter is that Obama doesn't do well with culturally southern whites, but he seems to do just fine with whites elsewhere - sometimes he wins them, sometimes Clinton does. This is pretty obvious if you are paying any attention whatsoever. The Democratic party isn't competitive in Presidential elections in the south anyway (Clinton wouldn't be anyway), so this isn't exactly a major issue.

Posted by: ikl on February 10, 2008 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

Petey - Obama got almost 60% of the primary vote in Utah. So I think that there are regional issues here as well.

Posted by: ikl on February 10, 2008 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

Why does Obama do better at Primaries than Caucuses?

Ask yourself:

What's the key difference between Primaries and Caucuses?

Here's the main answer:

Primaries are private, caucuses are public.

People seem to have an easier time voting for Obama in public than voting for Hillary in public. Hillary is not really that well liked, not even by some of her supporters. Fairly or unfairly, a lot of people, including some of her supporters, are not totally enamored by her and in a caucus, people have to stand up and say, "Yup, I support this person who a lot of us don't really even like. Yay me!"

Here's an additional answer:

Primaries take about 15-30 minutes of your time. Caucuses take 90-120 minutes of your time (I know, I just came back from one). People are simply more committed to Obama, more willing to go through all the messiness of a caucus for him. Not so much for Hillary. A lot of people may want to vote for her, but not really do much to do it.

Posted by: BombIranforChrist on February 10, 2008 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

Ha, ha. Now MO doesn't count because it is too close to IL. This is Calvinball!

Posted by: ikl on February 10, 2008 at 2:32 AM | PERMALINK

I'm wondering if the social dynamics of a caucus versus a straight primary are a factor in Obama's edge. It's one thing to walk into a voting booth and cast a vote; it's another to stand up in a group of people and do some give & take over which candidate to support. If you had no preference for either, but had to stand up and make a case, which would be the easier sale?

Sure, both of them are making history, but I'm wondering if it isn't easier to publicly voice support for Obama; he generates excitement and doesn't have the history to overcome that Clinton does. Further, there's also the fact that she has had to fall back on her connection to her husband to try and generate some excitement in her campaign; like it or not it raises the issue of just how far she can get on her own merits. It's not fair, but that's the way it seems to be working.

Then again it just may be voters being contrary. Clinton was supposed to have the inside track: money, name, connections. Somewhere the momentum shifted. It's going to be an interesting slog to the convention.

I wish Edwards was still in the race to keep both of them focused on the real enemy: the GOP.

Posted by: xaxnar on February 10, 2008 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think "frankly0" has been to Washington if he thinks it is a state where African-Americans are represented out of their "usual proportions." Some very strange understanding of race and the country as a whole here with frankly0h.

I ALL counties but one Obama overwhelmingly defeated Clinton, including the wide-open White rural eastern WA.

Odd thing about Obama is he makes people feel inspired long before they make up their mind to vote for him. It is an odd phenomenon. My wife was a total fence sitter but finally went over to Obama. I'm getting close myself.

Posted by: mirror on February 10, 2008 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

Caucuses suck. I went to one in 1992 in VA and we lost half our Brown delagation, because they had to work and couldn't hang out for 3 hours. They are not very democratic and weed out the working class. That is why I hate having Iowa being so seminal to the process. Iowans are low informational 'tards if you want my honest opinion working for Dean in 2004. F### 'em.

Posted by: harry s/mdana on February 10, 2008 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

One more thing:

Don't be so sure McCain loses in November.

If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination due to the super delegates instead of the state counts, there will be a LOT of Democrats doing some protest voting in the general, I guarantee it.

McCain may end up the last man laughing, the benefactee of two political parties imploding.

Posted by: BombIranforChrist on February 10, 2008 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

More seriously, your analogy is pretty ignorant - MA influences NH because Boston is the major media market. St. Louis is the major media market on the MO-IL border. So the effect is going to be a lot weaker.

But if you want to play that game, then Obama's win in CT was pretty damn impressive. He even won in the 4th CD - the one near NYC.

Posted by: ikl on February 10, 2008 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

I assume Delaware and Connecticut have too many of those pesky African-Americans to matter either.

But seriously. It's not a picnic without ants and it's not an Obama-victory thread without frankly0 explaining why it doesn't count!

.

On the original question, it's pretty simple: (a) organization. I got two Obama campaign calls, the first in January. I also got e-mails. (b) This mattered enough to me to figure out my caucus location and head over. I took a book, but the atmosphere was electric enough that I got little reading done. And I thought I was moderately enthusiastic, but you coulda lit a match off the younger Obama supporters. These people are gonna work their butts off canvassing and calling.

Posted by: Colin on February 10, 2008 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

"You can take your latte-sipping, Volvo-driving left-wing freakshow back to Vermont"

If only Kerry kept some of that fight in him AFTER he got the nomination.

Posted by: anonymous on February 10, 2008 at 2:37 AM | PERMALINK

Caucuses tend to be dominated by democratic party elites and activists, Obama's base.

And as a Californian, I'm outraged by the caucus system. I never paid any attention until this year. But the number of delegates is based on registered democrats. Caucuses have minimal participation, even in a good year. Primaries tend to get much broader participation. As a result, it takes a lot more voters to get a pledged delegate in a primary state than a caucus state.

Let's compare California to Washington. If caucus participation doubled this year over 2004, there would be 200,000 people participating. Yet, Washington gets 78 pledged delegates because of the size of its democratic registry. More than 4,000,000 people voted in the California primary and will get 370 delegates. So, to get a delegate in California, you had to get approximately 10,800 people to vote for you. To get a delegate in Washington, you needed to get only about 2,500 people to caucus for you. The entire system is ripe for having someone win pledged delegates and lose the popular vote (to the extent the popular vote can even be determined given how hard some caucus states work to hide it, ahem, Iowa).

And to make things worse for the particular state of Washington, it is also having a primary on the 19th that was added, as I understand it, as the result of a citizens' referendum and still the Democratic party chose to hold and use the caucuses for its delegate selection. Many folks up there were reportedly confused about the situation. For some reason they thought when they got a ballot in the mail and then voted, that vote was for some purpose. It's going to be a huge mess on the 19th if more folks show up for the primary and it has different results either in terms of popular votes or delegate allocation. I'm a Clinton supporter, but I honestly hope the primary results look exactly like tonight's. We do not need another mess on our hands, we already have MI and FL to figure out.

Regardless of who wins, this entire process is in desperate need of reform. If this ends up being a gigantic mess at the convention, the party has no one to blame but themselves. It's acting as designed.

Posted by: BDB on February 10, 2008 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

Obama's win in MO was helped by the fact that St. Louis media spends as much time on Illinois politics as it does on MO politics. It helped him a bit, being from a neighbor state, and no Springield (which does spend some time on Arkansas politics) does not compare to St. Louis in terms of population and influence.

Posted by: harry s/mdana on February 10, 2008 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I'm sure it helped a bit, but the MA-NH was way off base. Southern NH has all sorts of people who work in MA, previously lived in MA and watch MA TV.

On another note, primaries have some defects too. I canvassed a voter last weekend who was planning to vote Democratic in a closed primary but didn't know that Obama was a Democrat. You really don't want people choosing the nominee who don't even know who the two choices are. Presumably these folks tend not to caucus. Obviously most such voters will go for Clinton.

Posted by: ikl on February 10, 2008 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

""You can take your latte-sipping, Volvo-driving left-wing freakshow back to Vermont"

If only Kerry kept some of that fight in him AFTER he got the nomination." -Anon.

You do realize that was a Club for Growth (a Republican outfit)ad, don't you?

Democrats never realize that the Republicans like to manipulate our process, and then we wonder how we got stuck with Kerry, etc.

Posted by: harry s/mdana on February 10, 2008 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

Obama wins caucuses for three reasons: Time, people power and money (in that order too).

Everyone knew Clinton was going to run a big state, traditional Democratic campaign. Win all the big states she won on Super Tuesday and blow the competition away. Obama might have been able to compete head to head with that, but from the start he never planned to compete head to head.

Instead he used a two prong strategy to build a stalemate through Super Tuesday: 1) remain close enough in the big state, 2) trounce Clinton in the small states.

Given that strategy, and give the clear fact that he intended that strategy from the start, it makes sense to invest very, very heavily in caucus states because those are the elections over which a campaign can exercise the most control. More, organizing takes time and people and those are things Obama had in abundance. Those are also the states in which Clinton was investing the least resources because they seemed almost irrelevant to her campaign strategy.

(Aside: I also suspect the Clinton campaign presumed a lot of those states would never vote for a black candidate. Their frame of reference - which indicates just how out of touch they are - remains Jesse Jackson.)

Finally, this strategy meant Obama didn't have to blow all his money in the big markets. And I can only tell you in retrospect here in California he really didn't spend as much as he might have. He made a solid effort and did well more than merely go through the motions, but clearly his organization was lacking. But that makes sense given his strategy because it allowed him to invest much more heavily in the small states to offset his losses in big states.

And you've gotta admit, as of today this strategy seems to be working. He got his stalemate. Indeed, he's ahead in pledged delegates. More, he's got very experienced organizers now, a steady stream of cash, and he's been planning for this long drawn out race all along. He is ready to keep going, and is, indeed, already organized to keep going.

But Clinton? I know she thought the campaign would end last week and she'd be on her way to the coronation. Her advisers though that too and I doubt they're really certain about how to proceed from this point on.

Posted by: Callimaco on February 10, 2008 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

This week's Time warns that Democrats have become way to overconfident, leading them to travel too far to the left of the public at large by promising them universal healthcare and the fact that Hillary said Obama should have voted "no" on a bill giving legal protection to neonates that survive abortions (although, she eventually voted for such a bill).

Posted by: Memekiller on February 10, 2008 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

xaxnar, I think not. At my caucus the initially-declared undecideds divided more or less evenly to join both camps, which doesn't suggest overwhelming social pressure. Two people for each candidate made pitches and were heard out respectfully; everyone applauded everyone else. Everyone who spoke for one candidate expressed respect for the other. There were no uncivil words and I didn't even see any unhappy expressions. The Clinton supporters, though outnumbered 3:1, were still sort of charmed by the massive turnout and energy in the room.

Now that I think of it there were actually three Clinton supporters who spoke at my caucus. The first (perhaps because he was married to an Obama supporter) made a rather mild pitch, at which point someone who knew health care said look I can do better and made a stronger case. And then another person unexpectedly made a really fervent environmentalist pitch for Clinton, and was allowed to exceed allotted time -- so yeah, I would say the dozen or so Clinton supporters in our group had no trouble being outspoken and public.

Posted by: Colin on February 10, 2008 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

Nate, I'm really getting sick of this "cult" thing folks have recently started throwing around. I wish you could see how lame it looks. Like pure sour grapes. Please try to actually make an argument rather than accusing Obama of voodoo or something. You might even stretch and consider the idea that people actually like him. Last I heard, that was a good attribute in a candidate.

Posted by: J. Myers on February 10, 2008 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

Caucuses are undemocratic and limit participation to only the most committed which is fine for a nominee but bad for the general election. I think Primaries are better because you can have early voting and absentee balloting which opens up the process to everyone and replicates a national election. I hate the open primary and caucus rules which allows Independents and Republicans to vote in Democratic elections. Its an invitation to mischief. But we must congratulate Obama, he played by the rules and won, Well done sir, Well done.

Posted by: aline on February 10, 2008 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

frankly0:

The reality is that if Obama doesn't start to win actual elections in major states with diverse populations (which here means that the states are disproportionately dominated by his core African-American demographic), it's likely going to be hard for the average American voter to feel that he has really established himself as the rightful winner of the nomination.

Jesus, what garbage. Way to narrow down what "establishes a candidate as the rightful winner". Apparently caucuses victories no longer count, and primary wins in South Carolina, Alabama, Delaware, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, and Louisiana are meaningless...

Nope, apparently a candidate can only become the "rightful" winner by winning the states that Hillary won.

These Hillary supporters sure are getting desperate. That's some pretty pathetic spin.

Posted by: Joe on February 10, 2008 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

"Caucuses tend to be dominated by democratic party elites and activists, Obama's base."

Yep. It's so obvious that I'm surprised Kevin would feel the need to ask about it.

Obama has only won the white vote in two primaries, one of them his home state. He's losing almost all the primaries and when he has won it's been a narrow victory (again, except his home state).

I can't believe the Dem leadership would be stupid enough to give the nomination to the guy who loses California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Michigan, (and eventually) Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania while narrowly squeaking out a victory in Missouri and sweeping nothing more than the black vote in the South.

But hey, it's okay, because a few thousand white liberals in North Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska voted for him.

The caucuses are insane.

Posted by: Cal on February 10, 2008 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Callimaco on February 10, 2008 at 2:46 AM

Kevin should quote this on the front page. It's the best answer to Kevin's question.

(Personally I doubt anyone aimed at a stalemate, but whatever)

Posted by: anonymous on February 10, 2008 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

On the McCain issue, I think Drum is way too overconfident about Dem victory in the Fall. The media will not play fair and it will be ugly no matter the nominee. If you were a McCain supporter, why waste your time in a caucus? McCain will win in other states. There is not really a contest no matter how much Huckabee wants to make it one.

Posted by: harry s/mdana on February 10, 2008 at 2:54 AM | PERMALINK

I think there is a myth starting to gain currency in which caucus states are, in effect, Clinton victories which have been stolen by Obama. While I agree that Obama is particularly strong in organizing for the caucuses I am uncertain which of these states he might have lost in a primary election. Washington state is a classic example of this perception. The five-point lead which was shown for Obama in the SurveyUSA poll immediately prior to the election was only of registered democratic voters. If Obama had in fact won (narrowly) among democratic voters the inclusion of large numbers of independents would likely also have meant a significant victory for Obama even in a primary.

I agree that given the current primary system is a rather bizarre scheme for choosing our national candidate and would love to hear suggestions for an improved system to replace it. That said all parties were well aware of the rules prior to the election (including how Florida and Michigan were to be managed) and appeared to accept them.

Why do Obama supporters not seem concerned about the anti-democratic features of caucuses? Probably the same reason Clinton supporters never express principled outrage regarding the role of super-delegates...

Posted by: sven on February 10, 2008 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

Hey ALINE - Do you not understand that these two statements of yours are completely contradictory to one another? And in more than one way, I might add.

Statement 1: Caucuses are undemocratic and limit participation to only the most committed which is fine for a nominee but bad for the general election. I think Primaries are better because you can have early voting and absentee balloting which opens up the process to everyone and replicates a national election.

Statement 2: I hate the open primary and caucus rules which allows Independents and Republicans to vote in Democratic elections. Its an invitation to mischief.

Posted by: Callimaco on February 10, 2008 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

I believe the anecdotal evidence points to Obama's combination of charisma and organization. Friday in Seattle, Obama drew a huge crowd at Key Arena (shaming the not-so-super Sonics). News coverge created a tremendous buzz.

Saturday morning my daughter decided to go to her precinct caucus. Obama's Washington site had a web tool that helped supporters find their caucus location. When she still had questions, Obama's HQ had a hotline to answer them. Hillary's support network? Not so good.

Posted by: DevilDog on February 10, 2008 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

I saw some speculation about a Bradley-ish effect wherein at a caucus ambivalent / status-quo / hypocritical white liberals / independents might be self-conscious about publicly voting against a black candidate, but would willingly do so in the privacy of a voting booth.

If there's anything to this, is it nevertheless trumped by the fact that they could excuse themselves by publicly voting *for* a white *woman*?

Obama's caucus performance does seem oddly skewed...

Posted by: q on February 10, 2008 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

Cal - wait, Michigan and Florida weren't stripped of their delegates after all? Those were the rules, after all... You're going to punish Obama for 'losing' a state he hasn't supposed to run in, and whose votes aren't counted?

(That's a whole other fucked situation, but calling Obama on it us Unfair, Party of One)

Posted by: anonymous on February 10, 2008 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

At my caucus, not a single person had a hillary sticker. There just weren't any to be had, despite about 25% of the crowd being Clinton supporters. Everyone is supposed to have a sticker to wear to show their support, that's how you work in a caucus. The fact that Clinton's campaign didn't even bother to make any stickers or make them available, shows that she doesn't care.

Posted by: BRM on February 10, 2008 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

Ha, ha. Now MO doesn't count because it is too close to IL. This is Calvinball!

That is pretty damned funny given Missouri's electoral history.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 10, 2008 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK
Why do Obama supporters not seem concerned about the anti-democratic features of caucuses? Probably the same reason Clinton supporters never express principled outrage regarding the role of super-delegates...

No, I'm an Obama supporter, and I'll be the first to admit that caucuses suck. I'd rather have a primary in every state. Maybe we can change it for next time, but it's kind of useless to complain about them at this stage (especially when those complaining the loudest wouldn't be complaining if their candidate was winning them). It's not like Obama or his supporters invented caucuses or set the rules.

I also hate the electoral college, why should the vote from some guy in Wyoming or Idaho be more valuable that a voter in California or Texas? Seems completely undemocratic to me.

Posted by: Joe on February 10, 2008 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

Um, Hillary supporters: Democratic caucuses *or* primaries are a pretty poor indicator of performance in a general election (witness the last few general elections). I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but Democrats alone cannot win a general election.

What is a hopeful indicator is the ability to inspire enthusiasm in Independents. Hmm, which Democrat is best at that? Let me think . . .

That's why McCain is the scariest Republican, unless (pray to God!) Limbaugh and his ilk can succeed in discouraging core turnout among Republicans.

Hey, there's always the possibility that the core Conservatives are discouraging Republican voting because they know there's an awful mess to clean up, and they'd rather have it blamed on us then them. That's why I wasn't crushed with seeing Bush senior elected in '88. Just throwing that out there.

Posted by: J. Myers on February 10, 2008 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

Given the demographics of the voters for each candidate, it makes perfect sense that Obama is doing better in the caucuses than Clinton. Obama's voters tend to be young and middle-class; Hillary's voters tend to be older and working-class. Which of those two groups has a lot of time and energy to spend at a caucus?

Don't forget that Democrats are pretty much overwhelmingly in favor of both candidates: at least 70% of the primary voters for each candidate says they'd vote for the other in the general election if s/he got the nomination. It's really only in the blogosphere that you get a lot of Democrats claiming they'd vote for McCain before they'd vote for Hillary, and I think we've got a bit of a self-selected group here.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on February 10, 2008 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget that Washington republicans voted for Pat Robertson back in the day. The far right of the Republican party is very strong in this state.

Posted by: Peter on February 10, 2008 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I can give you my own personal experience from the Washington State caucuses.

We live in SW Washington, not too far from Vancouver (WA) and Portland (Ore). The site for the caucus this afternoon was a local grade school. Inside the cafeteria where everyone first assembled there were Obama buttons available, piles of Obama flyers and some Obama posters on the precinct tables. There was no evidence that the Clinton campaign had sent anything at all over. Talking to some friends who gathered at other sites, it was much the same story. Obama literature and signs scattered around, nothing much, if anything at all from the Clinton side.

My husband picked up the two-page color flyer and said to me while we were all sitting there waiting for people to sign in, "This is why Obama is winning the caucus states. Stuff like this is exactly what they mean when they talk about being organized on the ground." And in truth, a lot of people were looking at it and talking it up to one another while we waited. I asked the precinct captain about it and he said that either candidate's organization was free to send materials to the sites...one did, one didn't.

It's a single anecdote but was telling for me. By the way, our precinct went 60-40 for Obama.

Posted by: Monica on February 10, 2008 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

Slate ran a great article on this tonight:
http://slate.com/blogs/blogs/trailhead/archive/2008/02/09/mowing-down-the-plains.aspx

Naysayers and the Clinton campaign will probably suggest that Obama naturally does better in caucus systems, where his "fervent" supporters can try to convince their neighbors to switch allegiances. That thinking may have applied in Iowa and Nevada, but it doesn't anymore. [...] Sure, caucuses take longer than primaries (an hour or two compared with 15 or 20 minutes). But these caucuses were on a Saturday, when most people — fervent fans and lukewarm supporters — have an hour to kill. Clinton competed hard in Washington — she made more campaign stops than Obama — and she got beat. No complaining allowed.

Obama isn't beating Clinton in caucuses — he's beating her in the Pacific Northwest, Great Plains, and the Rockies. Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Colorado, and Washington have all chosen Obama over Clinton. Attempting to cheapen his wins by crying caucus is so early January. It's time to ask why Obama caucus states favor Obama, not caucus procedures. Add Utah to the mix and it's clear the region, not caucuses, want optimistic change, not experience, to take up residence in the White House. And they're making their voices heard in impressive margins.

If he wins Wisconsin (a primary), I think the general thrust of this article will be even clearer. We'll see how that goes soon enough.

Cal's claims that Obama can't win white votes are ridiculous: he's won primaries in Connecticut, Utah, and Missouri, he won the white vote in New Mexico, he won the white vote in California, he won it in his home state of Illinois, and he's mostly winning white men across the board. Aside from that, the suggestion that keeps getting made that his primary wins in states with large black populations just don't count is a bit offensive.

Posted by: jbryan on February 10, 2008 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

Simple: Clinton's core constituency is with blue collar workers, many of whom work during the day. Caucuses happen during the day. People who work while caucuses are happening are far less likely to participate.

Heck, in Nevada, the state party was so worried that the caucuses would exclude large segments of working class that they created several at-large caucus locations specifically for them.

Posted by: Gheby on February 10, 2008 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

I would say Obama supporters are simply more passionate, and are willing to endure the difficulty of registering and attending a caucus than the chromosome-driven cultists that support Hillary's Ellen Jamesian crusade.

It's hard not to only support Obama's vision, but to be angered by the superficial, cynical, and often maniacal approach of her campaign.

Her campaign is headed by Mark Penn, whom Rolling Stone referred to as the new Karl Rove.

Then, not content with having attempted to co-opt Obama message of "change" after having witnessed the effectiveness of it, this week she has the unmitigated gall of speaking in Virginia and declaring while Obama will not offer healthcare to all Americans, when she is asked she says, "Yes We Can!".

In a week when the Obama/Will I. Am "Yes We Can" video receives a million views a day, she is actually shameless enough to try and steal that as well, perhaps thinking no one will notice?

She has never had an original idea in her life, unless you count her having had secret healthcare meetings before Cheney ever got around to his secret energy meetings.

And today, there was Bill once again, lying through his teeth by saying Obama said no good ideas came from the 90s, not compared to today.

This was SUCH a baldface lie that the ABC News reporter actually had to step out of character on the Evening News and state that Obama had never said anything of the kind.

Every day Billary proves herself to be a soul-less, dynastic, arrogant political hack whose entire genesis derives not from any concrete accomplishment, but in having portrayed the forlorn put-upon abused spouse, in a now record run.

Posted by: filmex on February 10, 2008 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Aside from that, the suggestion that keeps getting made that his primary wins in states with large black populations just don't count is a bit offensive."
Of course it counts. Every delegate counts. Did anybody suggest otherwise?

Posted by: tn on February 10, 2008 at 3:49 AM | PERMALINK

Bay Buchanan (not introduced as Pat's sister) was on NPR Friday afternoon. She said Conservatives will, of course, of course support McCain if he's the nominee. If he kisses up.

She sounded more honest when she added that Cons are hoping for a Dem victory so they can recoup while (paraphrasing) the country realizes just how awful are the liberals.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on February 10, 2008 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

"Every day Billary proves herself to be a soul-less, dynastic, arrogant political hack whose entire genesis derives not from any concrete accomplishment, but in having portrayed the forlorn put-upon abused spouse, in a now record run."
Every day Obama supporters prove that they are haters. You can judge a candidate by supporters he has.

Posted by: tn on February 10, 2008 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

Of course it counts. Every delegate counts. Did anybody suggest otherwise?

TN,

Well, yes, actually. I even included the name of the poster who was implying that it doesn't count. Cal's claim that:
Obama has only won the white vote in two primaries, one of them his home state. He's losing almost all the primaries and when he has won it's been a narrow victory (again, except his home state). I can't believe the Dem leadership would be stupid enough to give the nomination to the guy who loses California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Michigan, (and eventually) Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania while narrowly squeaking out a victory in Missouri and sweeping nothing more than the black vote in the South.

... certainly reads to me like the black votes that he's getting in the contest (and, accordingly, the states that he's winning with their help) just doesn't really count. But I don't know. Maybe you could give a more charitable translation?

Posted by: jbryan on February 10, 2008 at 4:09 AM | PERMALINK

A couple of observations as a Washington stater. On the democratic side, I don't know how much dollars were put in on each side, but Obama ads were all over the radio and television for weeks ahead of time. I saw exactly one Hillary ad in that same span of time, and that was on Friday. There's also been way, way more excitement and media coverage over Obama. Hillary had a rally which attracted around 3-5k. Obama had a rally in KeyArena, attracting around 20k, and they were reportedly turning away thousands at the door. Even the alternative rock station I listen to was broadcasting from the rally. It was literally the biggest political event in Washington state in years.

On the republican side, Washington's always trended more to the libertarian side of the tent than the current Bush/Cheney philosophy. Also, since we always ends up voting blue anyway, the republicans tend to feel pretty free about voting for whoever the hell they happen to like, regardless of issues like electability. I never saw any campaigning done for any republicans here, though perhaps I just watch the wrong media for it. If I had to take a guess at the republican mindset though, McCain's just carried too much water for the president over the years, and there's plenty of republicans (at least in Washington state) who would prefer almost anyone else.

Posted by: gabe on February 10, 2008 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

Gheby,

Were those the at-large locations that Clinton tried to block through legal action, thus disenfranchising all those alledged Clinton blue-collar voters?

Posted by: PTS on February 10, 2008 at 4:37 AM | PERMALINK

I attended a caucus in Washington today and here's my take on why Obama won:

1. Caucuses have a bias in favor of a candidate with more active supporters, people who have more time, etc.
2. Obama's ground game was better than Clinton's

So, voting was kind of an awkward social event where I was trapped for several hours. After a preliminary vote, people were allowed to give a one minute speech in favor of their candidate. I don't mean to be rude but....can I just vote and leave? No! Not if you want to make sure someone will serve as a delegate for your candidate so your vote will actually count for something. Also, I think the Clinton supporters in my precinct were a little intimidated by being outnumbered by Obama supporters. Fun! The whole time I kept wishing I could just have an absentee ballot and vote at my kitchen table or go to a polling place where I could have some privacy.

I hope to never participate in a caucus again and am furious at the parties responsible for this system. Were they purposely trying to manipulate the voting process by making it harder for some people to vote? Who decided nobody gets to vote privately?

Today I felt democracy had really lost.

Posted by: Laura on February 10, 2008 at 4:45 AM | PERMALINK

Let me see if I've got frankly0's argument straight:

Obama's caucus wins don't count because caucuses are undemocratic.

Obama's primaries wins don't count because of race,

EXCEPT for Obama's MO win, which doesn't count because it's too close to IL.


Hey, I like this game. I'll play too:

Clinton's CA and AZ wins don't count because of race.

Clinton's NJ, NH and MA wins don't count because they're too close to NY (hey, New England's a small place).

Clinton's TN and OK wins don't count because they're too close to AR

Clinton's NV win doesn't count because caucuses are undemocrat (AND because of race--double discount!)

AHA! It all comes down to Michigan and Florida. CLINTON WINS!!!!


Calvinball is fun.

Posted by: Adam on February 10, 2008 at 5:11 AM | PERMALINK

Primaries may be more "democratic" because more people vote and the ballots are secret, but they are based on the assumption that voters already know all there is to know about the candidates. One could therefore argue that a primary will favor the candidate with most money (for ads) or better press (which can be suspect for a number of reasons).

Caucuses have their origin in the belief that a town hall type of meeting can create a discussion among voters with arguments going back and forth and questions being answered. In theory, at least, this approach can cut through both slick advertising and bias in the press. In practice, money plays a role here as well because of local advertising (as described above), facilitated access, etc.

It is not axiomatic that, in a multi-party system, party nominees have to be elected by popular vote alone. In many countries there are no primaries, and in the US primaries appeared only in the 20th century.

And it's curious that those, like frankyl0, who criticize caucuses for being undemocratic, have little to say (or did I miss it?) about how democratic super-delegates are by their standards. I don't suppose that has anything to do with the fact that Hillary has a majority of those.

Posted by: JS on February 10, 2008 at 5:17 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, right, the actual question in the post:

I'm a little puzzled about Obama's consistent success in caucuses, which usually seems to get chalked up to his background in community organizing. Somehow, though, that doesn't really seem like a persuasive explanation.

Not on the surface, but I think it's a shorthand for one that is. Clinton has approached this campaign in the classic way: essentially, top-down. Of course she still has precinct captains, etc., but her campaign has assumed that most of her organizational strength can come from state party members, unions, etc.

Obama's campaign, by contrast, has essentially assumed that they'd have to build most of their network from the ground up, and they've basically treated that challenge as community organizing on a massive scale. They've put an unprecedented amount of emphasis on person-to-person contact. For one example, see here.

To be fair, that's a risky strategy. It's untested, for starters. It also makes the task of keeping tabs on one's own campaign very difficult, and in that sense it's a bit uncontrolled. But so far it seems to be working in general, and especially in caucus states, where the translation of social networks into campaign networks is particularly potent.

The are a couple of other factors at play too, though. First, because Obama did very well in early caucus states (don't forget he signficantly outperformed his polls in NV), and because the Clinton's had significant institutional strength in a few big Supercalifragilistic Tuesday states, the two campaigns allocated their resources differently. Obama's campaign spread theirs a bit more broadly and evenly, putting equal emphasis on every possible delegate, while Clinton's targeted the thirteen or fourteen states that, put together, could have been enough to set Obama up for a knockout. Both calculations made sense at the time, but Obama's paid off a little bit better.

Meanwhile, Clinton really did have some financial trouble for a little while. She's certainly gotten out of those woods now, but she didn't have the money in mid-to-late January to be setting up networks in February caucus states. Since caucuses require earlier investment, that basically meant she had to write them off.

So, there's my caucus answer. Not terribly sexy, but I think it explains the difference.


Incidentally, I do think primaries are better than caucuses, for some of the reasons others have given here. But Obama's just playing on the turf that was set for the candidates. Meanwhile, Clinton is certainly doing the same.

Posted by: Adam on February 10, 2008 at 5:42 AM | PERMALINK

Please, let November come, and let there be a rain of fire and blood and offal upon the Republicans.

What person with any brains even chooses to be a Republican? Some rigid fantasist who believes he belongs to some other, platonic ideal of a political party, in some magical realm where it practices fiscal conservatism and keeps its nose out of people's bedrooms and strengthens the military rather than diminishes it? And the more false their ideal is shown to be the more rigidly they embrace it? Isn't that a form of insanity, or mental illness, or psychosis?

Posted by: Anon on February 10, 2008 at 5:52 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm a little puzzled about Obama's consistent success in caucuses, which usually seems to get chalked up to his background in community organizing."

Caucusses take much time, they are inconvenient, and many people don't like the idea of discussing their candidate preferences in a group of strangers at all. This process favors people with time on their hands, like students, and disadvantages hard working people and parents having to care for their kids. All of this works for Obama, with his younger base of activists. Why is this a surprise for you, Kevin???

Posted by: Gray on February 10, 2008 at 5:58 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Cal -- take your racist diatribe somewhere else. It's getting really old for Clinton supporters to find every lame excuse to discount Obama's victories. First you say that caucuses are undemocratic and shouldn't count. Then, you say that any primary with "too many black folks" also shouldn't count. Then you take out Illinois, because it's Obama's home state. And finally you dismiss CT, MO, DE, and other states Obama has won because??? What, he didn't win them decisively enough?

Perhaps you should start wondering why Obama is racking up 60% of the vote in so many of these states, a feat that Clinton only pulled off in Arkansas. Obama has a better message, better organization, and more committed supporters.

Posted by: SVH on February 10, 2008 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK

What person with any brains even chooses to be a Republican?

Okay, this irritates me a little cause the answer is... quite a few actually. Including a number of good friends... One (he's about 20 years up on me) is an Eisenhower Republican and has voted GOP for 40 years. Others - younger - buy into the (false) image of the GOP as the party of the rugged individualist and of personal responsibility... all might change this time round though McCain makes it more unlikely... but hey we can talk (particularly over beer). Demonize the leaders but there's no point just demonizing the folks who vote for the GOP. They're your fellow citizens and many are likeable and decent people. That should be your starting point. Sit back, listen. Show some respect. Why do they think to vote as they do? Find the common ground and argue why you would vote differently. You might even win someone round to your point of view.

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 10, 2008 at 7:00 AM | PERMALINK

I think once this is over - not now because Obama people would think it was directed against them - the Dem party needs to seriously re-think how we choose a candidate. Because no campaign has lasted so long or resulted in close to a tie, most of us didn't have a clue. We know a lot more about the process now and it sucks!

The other question I have about caucuses is why they seem to produce such lop-sided results and this happens in both parties. Whoever wins always seems to win in disproportionate numbers.

Last, I am the typical Hillary voter - 60 years old, female, pretty low on the socioeconomic scale but I rather resent being told that I am an "uneducated, low-information" voter and that must be why I am a Hillary supporter. Come on, you Obama elites. You like your guy and more power to you but it doesn't make your vote inherently more intelligent than mine.

Posted by: Vicki Williams on February 10, 2008 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

What ikl said. It's very, very hard to attend a caucus, especially in a state where caucusing has almost never mattered before. Most adults figure out the voting process after a few cycles; with caucuses, it's as if the entire electorate is 18 again, procedure-wise.

In my own Washington county, the huge record-blowing Democratic caucus turnout was about 5 percent of the voting-eligible population.

Caucuses bring a strong benefit to people motivated enough, rich enough, young enough and nerdy enough to get detailed instructions over the Internet. Good for Ron Paul; good for Obama.

Posted by: Michael A. on February 10, 2008 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

Jeez. I'd like to see you explain the orbit of the moon without using the concept of gravity.

Obama is teh awesome.

I actually do think it has something to do with peer pressure and the willingness of supporters to subject themselves to a public process. Hillary supporters know she isn't considered "cool" or "awesome" and they either don't show up or are more likely to change their preference in a caucus setting. Not only is she not awesome but I think there might be a few media type folks that like to frame her and her campaign in a negative light.

In Washington state they are polling pretty much dead even.

I don't know what this means for Obama in November. It's not a caucus and the media keeps pictures of both Obama and McCain underneath their pillows.

Posted by: B on February 10, 2008 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Laura: Also, I think the Clinton supporters in my precinct were a little intimidated by being outnumbered by Obama supporters. Fun! ... I hope to never participate in a caucus again and am furious at the parties responsible for this system. Were they purposely trying to manipulate the voting process by making it harder for some people to vote? Who decided nobody gets to vote privately? Today I felt democracy had really lost.

Well, caucuses aren't for introverts, that's for sure. (As a Canadian introvert, you are guaranteed to NEVER find me at one of these.)

But these arguments are pretty weak. As you said earlier in your comment, Obama was better organized and put more resources into caucuses. Clinton chose not to allocate her resources and time the same way, which means that even though these caucuses were on a Saturday, which most people of every class have free, she delivered fewer people there. You may presume that the smaller pool of Clinton supporters were too intimidated to fully participate, but if Clinton can't pull out either a small pool of determined voters, or a larger pool of voters ready to support her -- on a SATURDAY -- that's her responsibility.

She could have made these caucuses more competitive, and according to polling weeks and months go, she could have won them handily. She screwed up.

Posted by: MaryL on February 10, 2008 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

I am feeling very uneasy about the November elections. I spoke with my very liberal brother-in-law and he noted that Citizens United, the professional smear group headed by the despicable David Bossie is preparing a multi-million smear campaign against Obama . Also, he said many states are going to be using Diebold electronic voting machines which are highly subject to hacking and manipulation.

Watch out Dems! The smear machine is just gearing up!!!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 10, 2008 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Why Obama wins caucuses:

Caucuses (as others have said) weed out poor/working-class people. This would be bad for Obama if the caucuses were in southern or heavily urban states, but they're not.

Caucuses make it harder for racists to vote their conscience (not a bad deal).

But also: caucuses encourage married women to vote the same way as their husbands (i.e. erodes Clinton support).

I find it kind of funny that some of the same people who derided caucuses as undemocratic now love them, or are strangely quiet on the subject.

Posted by: rabbit on February 10, 2008 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, the answer is clear if you've been to a caucus. I went to mine Tuesday at a middle school in Denver. The place was packed as was the case at every other caucus in Denver that night.

Obama supporters didn't have the card signs and buttons as did the Hillary supporters. But they were more pumped up and excited. Obama took the caucuses by a 2 to 1 margin.

Caucuses take time and effort. Mine lasted 2.5 hours. Obama supporters are more likely to go to the trouble to attend and vote.

It's very simple. Obama doesn't need a great caucus organization. People simply show up.

Posted by: Kim on February 10, 2008 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

As tempting as it is to make predictions in February about the November election, please resist! I've been watching politics too long to make that mistake. In 1976, Jimmy Carter had a HUGE lead over Gerald Ford coming out of the Democratic convention in July - it was something like 25 points! They were writing Ford's political obituary, but he came on like gangbusters and just missed winning the election. Same thing in 1968, Humphrey was way behind and came back to narrowly lose. Dukakis had a double-digit lead over Bush Sr. coming out of the Democratic convention in 1988 and wound up getting blown out in November. And we don't have to remember the Truman-Dewey race! So say that McCain "looks like a goner" at this point is ridiculous. I hope you're right, but it's premature to say the least!

Posted by: BobR on February 10, 2008 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

One, Ron Paul is not a protest candidate, and two, the reason for the discrepancies between primaries and caucuses is that the former uses Diebold. But I'm sure you knew that anyway.

Posted by: Marta on February 10, 2008 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

shorter Kim, eric, donna: Obama is teh awesome.

Posted by: B on February 10, 2008 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

There is a gender gap in the primaries but less so in the caucuses. What seems to happen is that in the cacuses the husband says 'lets go for Obama' and the wife has to either agree or be alone all evening.

This did not happen so much in Nevada where the cacuses were arranged on the strip, allowing people to vote at work.

It is kinda interesting to see the Obama supporters have suddenly decided that they don't like superdelegates 'the people must decide!' but haven't changed their minds on counting Florida or Mitchigan 'the rules must be followed!'.

The fact is that Obama is the 'cooler' candidate to be seen supporting. Win or lose a politician is going to gain from having supported Obama.

Posted by: PHB on February 10, 2008 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Caucusing is undemocratic only if you believe the old New England town meeting is undemocratic. Caucusing does reward the committed and informed over the lukewarm and uninformed. So what? Who is more likely to actively support a candidate in the fall? A very committed highly informed activist or a couch potato who doesn't have the time to learn anything about a candidate or his positions. Missouri used to have caucuses. They gave me a chance to meet others in my town who think like me. I really loved them. They were great party building activities.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 10, 2008 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

B shorter Kim, eric, donna: Obama is teh awesome.

One of these posts is not like the others... I think it's pretty unfair to Kim to lump her in with the consecutively-posted all small letter first names 'eric' and 'donna' who are clearly trolling.

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 10, 2008 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

But seriously, I'll never understand the vehemence these stupid Republican fanatics feel against John McCain.

Our new knowledge technology is not backward compatible. Who would want to open their "files" anyway. Ugh! Supersitition sitting on a cesspool of sexual frustration.

Posted by: Bob M on February 10, 2008 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

'carol' let me introduce you to 'eric' and 'donna'. Or do you already know each other? Perhaps from the local GOP/troll party?

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 10, 2008 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

The caucuses were on Saturday and mine was well attended by working people. Twolocal unionns turned up--firemen and pipefitters. They were for Obama quite vocally. In fact, and listen up all you Edwards folks who think that Hillary is his natural heir, they were so anti-Hillary that they said they won't vote for her in the general. Nafta.

The other two thirds of the crowd were older folks. Three werre in wheelchairs. Yes, the local assisted living facilities were assisting their resisdents to get aoutt and vote. Also my island is populated by a mix of wealthy retirees and old hippies so there was lots of gray hair at my caucus.

The Hillary supporters were a subset of the female baby boomers in the room.

BTW CNN has an analysis up that concludes that Obama has a much better shot at beatingMcCAin than Hillary does. Turnsout that the problem isn't that non-blackswon't vote for an African American. The problem is that non-women won't vote for a woman. Female libberal babyboomers aren't a big enough demographic to win the general.

This female liberalbabyboomer wants to win, so I'm for Obama.

Posted by: wonkie on February 10, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

You assume we have an honest election. Of course, a case can be made that hillary/obama just represent a continuation of dur chimpfuhrer's policies anyhow.

Obama is already lying about a "social security" crisis.

But they can steal the election now regardless of McCain's support. They will just say that the public was not ready for hillary's diviness (or that she's a woman) or that country was not ready for a black man.

Either of these memes will cover any honest dialog about the stolen election - essentially the same way they stole 2000 & 2004 (remember the "highly energized base lie?).

GREAT CRIMES DEMAND EVEN GREATER CRIMINALITY

Don't expect the criminal cabal behind this administration to just walk away.

Posted by: littlebear on February 10, 2008 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks Booring and PaulB for the laughs.

Very nice analysis by Callimaco at 2:46. Obama's campaign simply outmaneuvered the Clintons. Why? Hubris.

Obama's people have a clever strategy, but if Hillary hadn't presumed to walk off with the nom after the front-loaded races where she sunk all her cash, Obama might well have been out of it by now. Oops.

Meanwhile, Kevin's been cocky all along about any D's ability to knock out McCain in the general, but I'm not buying it. Whether it's Clinton or Obama, the general is going to be a hideous, bloody affair. I can just imagine the stuff the machine is going to grind out about Obama if he's the nom. The polls pitting Hillary or Obama against McCain suggest an alarmingly close race. All bets are off.

I hope Obama picks Jim Webb as his VP to counter McCain's war hero mojo. Indeed, Obama told the Reno Gazette-Journal that he would like a VP with a military background. Webb is one man who does not suffer fools, and he can out-straight talk McCain any day.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

The answer actually seems quite simple to me: Obama's voters are enthusiastic, they see their candidate in almost messianic terms. (Before I get flamed for that, think about how many of his supporters are convinced that the very fact of his election will change all the dynamics by which our government works.) By contrast, Hillary's voters are less swept up in the emotion of it all, more inclined to support her for policy reasons and for reasons tied to her experienced both in and outside the White House and her ability to "get things done" in the system that exists. This does not mean that her support is wavering, rather that it simply lacks the emotional commitment required for a caucus.

I think the equally if not more interesting question is how FEW primaries Obama has won. We all chortle over how poorly McCain seems to do with his own base, but this guy can't win large scale Democratic primaries. In other words, he's not connecting with his base either. After all, November 4 will not be a caucus.


Posted by: poljunkie on February 10, 2008 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Actually it wass the Hillary folks at my caucus wo were emotinal. They were also the ones who were blinding themseves with hopw. They refused to face any facts able Hillary's disapproval ratings or poll results--oh, no, all Hillary hhad to do was call up legions of voters just lke them and we will win? How many voters in this country ar over fifty Democratic women? I'm an over fiftey Democratic woman and their blind faith and disregard for political realities really got up my nose.

Posted by: wonkie on February 10, 2008 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Last night I was talking with my brother, who one might argue is a "high info" voter - admittedly the info comes from several MSM publications (we're outerborough NYC'ers and he reads 5 papers a day). The family has always been Dem. He said he could vote for McCain - "principled man", "hero", "we need to stay in Iraq - look at Korea, Germany" etc. I was shocked! Obviously he doesn't read blogs. But this is an example of what will have to be overcome in the general. (He voted for Obama on Tuesday.)

Secondly - in my relationship, it's likely that my boyfriend would be hanging out with me at a caucus, not the other way around. And if he felt strongly about the other guy/gal - I'd tell him to have a good time & I'll meet you after the caucus. I know my 80 year mother has cancelled my father's vote many times & if there had been a caucus in NY she would have gladly sat on Hillary's side without my father. Whoever said wives wouldn't sit without their husbands for an afternoon needs to get out more. Jeez

Posted by: mo on February 10, 2008 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Caucuses tend to be decided by the hard core party activists, not the regular folks. That's why Romney won the caucuses.

The hard core activists still hold the war vote against hillary

Posted by: pj on February 10, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Last, I am the typical Hillary voter - 60 years old, female, pretty low on the socioeconomic scale but I rather resent being told that I am an "uneducated, low-information" voter and that must be why I am a Hillary supporter. Come on, you Obama elites. You like your guy and more power to you but it doesn't make your vote inherently more intelligent than mine.

Amen, Vicki. Though this sword does cut both ways. There are many Hillary supporters who dismiss me out of hand because I'm "elite" (Ph.D.) or because I'm under 40.

Posted by: Dagome on February 10, 2008 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

The last polling I read (a day or two ago) the difference between the Obama-McCain matchup and the Clinton-McCain matchup was 2-4%, i.e., well within the polling margin of error. That said, and as others far smarter than me have pointed out, Dukakis was ahead of Bush the Elder by 17 points at this point in the race. I don't seem to remember a Dukakis Administration though. So let's not criticize HRC's supporters by saying we're ignoring the "evidence" that she can't win. Puh-leeze.

Posted by: poljunkie on February 10, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Holy smokes, I just read the NYT article that The Conservative Deflator linked to above:

[Citizens United] is also looking to the U.S. Supreme Court for help in advertising the anti-Hillary movie. It is opposing a federal regulation, under the McCain-Feingold Act, requiring that a disclaimer that identifies the group be placed at the end of television ads promoting the movie and criticizing Mrs. Clinton. It is also arguing that it should not have to disclose how much it spent to produce the movie and the ads, nor who contributed to it. The Supreme Court is scheduled to decide next week whether it will hear the case.
Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Ploufe has wisely understated the results in his AM press release, which gives the resounding three-state sweep more power.

Clinton must now adopt the "wait and see" approach for Ohio and Texas that worked so poorly for Guiliani with Florida.

In the meantime, the Obama momentum will build and will be hard to stop.

For those of you who can't make it to an Obama rally, here is the entire Obama rally setlist--from "City of Blinding Lights" to which he takes the stage to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" on Itunes:

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewIMix?id=273867065&s=143441&v0=575

Posted by: Cara Prado on February 10, 2008 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Hang on, Hang on. Was over at TPM, a few seconds ago, according to them 17% of the WA. Republican Caucuses are still outstanding. It's still possible McCain didn't win a single primary last night.

Posted by: Radix on February 10, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Cara Prado, your comparison of Rudy to Hillary is kinda silly. Probably should take a look at their numbers.

Posted by: Radix on February 10, 2008 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

A few thoughts:

1. It is not inconsistent to be against the concept of superdelegates and adhere to the notion that the Florida and Michigan results can't count. I think Kevin and some others have actually made a case for superdelegates, but they still strike me as cutting against the whole point of having these primaries and caucuses. As for Florida and Michigan, because Obama adhered to the pledge not to campaign in those states, it would be manifestly unfair to seat those delegates. Though it would be a logistical nightmare, a do over for those two states would be a much better idea.

2. Primaries sure seem better than caucuses to me. That being said, the primary process is ridiculous and needs to be entirely rethought.

3. That being said, it seems pretty apparent that the Clinton team didn't feel the need to put many resources into the caucus states. They are paying the price for it now.

4. What is the best explanation by Obama's failure to connect with working class/poor voters. He spent the early part of his post-Harvard career working with those people. He has no problem connecting with them in Illinois, so I don't know why that would be a problem in the general.

5. One final thought -- with all of this talk of demographics, should we be looking at the ability of these candidates to gain voters? Six months ago, the big story was whether Obama was black enough to overcome Clinton's poll edge amongst African-American voters. We know how that's gone (and I wasn't surprised). It seems to me (and this could be my Obama supporting bias) that Obama has shown more growth than Hillary when it comes to picking up voters.

Posted by: Mike B. on February 10, 2008 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

poljunkie, If I'm not mistaken, much of Dukakis's lead was made up of voters less than 30. People in the 18-30 group usually have better things to do in November than vote.

Posted by: Radix on February 10, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"The reality is that if Obama doesn't start to win actual elections in major states with diverse populations"

Hmm ... let's try it this way, shall we?

"The reality is that if Clinton doesn't start to win actual elections in major states that will be hotly contested by the Republican nominee, it's likely going to be hard for the average American voter to feel that she has really established that she can win the election in November."

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Jbryan.
"... certainly reads to me like the black votes that he's getting in the contest (and, accordingly, the states that he's winning with their help) just doesn't really count. But I don't know. Maybe you could give a more charitable translation?"
What do you mean "doesn't really count"?
Every vote counts. If Obama wins a state, he gets delegates. Are you asking if Obama has bragging rights for winning states with majority of Black voters? I don't think so.

Posted by: tn on February 10, 2008 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

When you can only show strength in caucuses and a general election has no caucuses you have a problem.

For various reasons stated above - that caucuses are dominated by party activists, that emotional true-believer-type voters can intimidate other caucus goers and the Bradley/Wilder effect that voters will not openly say they do not like or support Obama for fear of being labeled racist -
caucuses are skewed and unreliable indicators of general election trends.

There is one constituency that Dems cannot afford to alienate - the blue collar working class Reagan Dems. No matter how Obama tries to position himself as RR's successor nobody is going to buy that bull and no matter how you try to spin the results they are disastrous for an Obama on the ticket.

Posted by: Chrissy on February 10, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

"Was over at TPM, a few seconds ago, according to them 17% of the WA. Republican Caucuses are still outstanding. It's still possible McCain didn't win a single primary last night."

That message is a bit out-of-date. It's actually 13% not reported yet, according to CNN. CNN has called this for McCain, concluding that it's just not likely that the remaining tallies will overwhelmingly break for Huckabee.

It is interesting, though, that the Republican Party is having so much trouble with their numbers. You have to wonder just what's going on.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

He's either going to be forced to spend so much time pandering to pissed-off conservatives that he loses the independent vote, or else he's going to beg for independents and wake up on November 5th to find out that half his base decided to stay home rather than vote for him. He's screwed either way. -Kevin

Absolutely agree. He's toast matched with either Hillary or Obama in the general. The GOP in general is also toast for a generation because their three major groups each persist in believing myths that independents won't buy because of failed evidence. 1) Tax cuts pay for themselves... sorry, but deficits are worse than ever, 2) Wars of choice in the ME will result in plenty of cheap oil... sorry, but oil is higher than it would have been and the wars are costing us a fortune, 3) Mixing religion and politics makes government better... sorry, but sex and corruption scandals are just as numerous as ever. The independents and the country generally, are starting to come around to support evidence-based policies and the GOP isn't offering any.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 10, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

"Nope, apparently a candidate can only become the 'rightful' winner by winning the states that Hillary won. These Hillary supporters sure are getting desperate. That's some pretty pathetic spin."

As far as we can tell, frankly0 isn't a Hillary supporter. He simply hates Obama. He's been completely irrational on this for months.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

PaulB, noticed that myself, on the percentages. Gotta agree with you, I wonder what's going over there.

Posted by: Radix on February 10, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Now it looks like no one can say vote for Obama because Hillary can't win against McCain. The children know now there is no boogie man to get you if you don't eat your spinach. McCain looks like a looser after all, the nation does not want four more years of Bush. McCain and Co. just don't get it.

Posted by: Renate on February 10, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

There is one constituency that Dems cannot afford to alienate - the blue collar working class Reagan Dems.

Don't Reagan Democrats vote Republican.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

PaulB: Thers, over at Firedoglake has the ultimate "Your candidate sucks" post. It's an absolute hoot and well worth a read..."

Wow. Definitely proof that the blog world is populated by way too many people who think they can write. How I miss the old days...

Posted by: Kim on February 10, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

People who have never been politically involved are showing up en masse at caucuses.

Posted by: Athyrio on February 10, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

You have gone off the deep end with this one. By this kind of reasoning, Hillary Clinton should concede right now, shouldn't she?

Caucuses do not favor candidates like Clinton and McCain- they favor candidates with passionate supporters. They are the supporters who are willing to go the extra mile for their candidate since caucusing requires more time to perform. The candidates with the most passionate supporters are Obama, Huckabee, and Paul. They are the candidates that most outperform in caucuses their showings in regular primaries.

Obama's and Huckabee's problem continues to be their inability to widen their support outside this this passionate core.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 10, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Just shows he can win in the least democratic method of choosing a candidate. If he had been competing in real primaries in those states, results might have been quite different. Do away with caucuses. Let everyone have a vote.

Posted by: Danny McElrath on February 10, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Personally, I loved this one by frankly0:

"In Wash State, polls showed Obama up by perhaps 5%. He wins by well over 30%. How can this be a good sign for the notion that the voice of the people is being expressed?"

Because everyone knows that a) polls are never wrong, particularly when there is just one or two polls, and b) uncommitted voters always vote in the exact percentages of those who supported individual candidates, c) the polls haven't been at all volatile in this election, and d) people don't change their minds.

Nope, thanks to frankly0, we now know that Obama's win was because "the voice of the people [was not] expressed." All hail frankly0, without whom we would continue to remain ignorant.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Lucy, if I'm not mistaken, most of the Reagan Dems went Indie or Republican awhile ago. Those that didn't feel really bad about being suckered. And Blue Dogs are all but extinct.

Posted by: Radix on February 10, 2008 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

It's PC social pressure. The idea that if you don't vote for a black man, people will think you're a racist.

Posted by: judd on February 10, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

"Obama's and Huckabee's problem continues to be their inability to widen their support outside this this passionate core."

Huckabee? Yup. Obama? Nope. The data simply do not support this.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, radix. I think Chrissy meant "lunch bucket Democrats", solidly Dem working-class whites.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

no Lucy. They vote Democratic except when Dems nominate candidates with limited elitist appeal.

Posted by: Chrissy on February 10, 2008 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Er... yeah, Huckleberry and Obama haven't at all shown similar limitations in this election. Huckleberry's won in the Deep South and a couple of right-dominated caucuses. He lacks drastically behind McCain in delegates and votes. Obama, on the other hand, has won more states than Clinton, his take of the popular vote is larger, and he's ahead in delegates. They've won the same number of primaries. And he's won primaries in very different geographic areas -- Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, Utah, Illinois, Georgia, New Mexico (?). They're not at all comparable.

Posted by: jbryan on February 10, 2008 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with McCain is that he sometimes doesn't place "sticking it to the Democrats" at a higher priority than actually solving problems.

Compromise means failure and betrayal. Conservatives won't forgive him for that.

By the way, I think McCain is crazy, or pretty close to it.

Posted by: Del Capslock on February 10, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

McCain will be forced to placate the independents more than the conservatives. The election may be close with the popular vote with either Hillary or Obama, but McCain will get knocked harder in the Electoral college because most of his support is in the large blue states and those states will go Democratic.

The exception *could* be California with Obama as the nominee. I voted for Obama in my primary, but I'm starting to think Clinton has a slight edge in the GE over Obama because of California and also Clinton might be able to carry Texas against McCain where Obama could not.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 10, 2008 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

What IS ridiculous is watching the DEMS again "eat their own" while continuing this facade of "let the voters decide" on who the candidate will be...we're gonna lose this one TOO...continuing the legacy of the past 8 years...it ONLY makes sense for these candidates to get together/run together/demolish the REPUGS once and for all...create history on all fronts..set up Barack for his terms in the WH...give us the strength and experience of Hillary (and quit feeding into the I HATE ALL CLINTONS meme) for this time when we need it so...and get and stay involved and watchful and interactive...BUT, NO...I'm betting my pension we get to watch another bloodbath that paves the way for that old f--t McCain to stroll into the office then lay down and die! So, if there IS strength in this blogosphere why not mass it towards convincing the candidates to DO THE RIGHT THING!!! It would drive the MSM nuts too...now there is a bonus!

Posted by: Dancer on February 10, 2008 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Paul B,

If Obama wins Ohio, for example, then he has broken out. Until then, no.

Right now, it appears that Clinton will win Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania while losing every single caucus between now and the convention.

This may go to the convention afterall, though I would have never thought it possible.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 10, 2008 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Clinton's game plan has been to focus on a few key states, thinking others would fall into line. It would also explain why Obama, despite so-called momentum and big endorsements, lost some of those big Democratic strongholds.

Posted by: Quinn on February 10, 2008 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Two things will have to happen in order for McCain to win the general:

(A) Democratic turnout will have to be seriously depressed from its current record highs
(B) Republican turnout will have to be seriously increased.

Right now, if you look at the sheer number of votes/caucus members, Hillary comes in first, Obama is a close second, and McCain is a distant third. More voters/caucus members are turning out for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates.

I'm not saying that the Republicans can't turn it around, because they're dirty campaigners who have no compunction about blocking Democratic voters by any means possible, but they've got a pretty hard row to hoe.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on February 10, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm so blinded by partisanship that I'll say/do anything to support Obama regardless of the facts/reality that--I think Obama has a shot at Ohio.

He has tons of money and plenty of time to campaign, and the more exposure the voters have to Obama, the more they like him.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

I think that Adam's insight at 5:42 AM is trenchant.
Let me recast it a bit, and you can tell me if it fits.

All of us here in blogtopia* know firsthand the way that a participatory medium changes what's known, and how information is spread. Traditional MSM are one-way transmissions that privilege the voices of a few reporters, columnists, pundits, spokesmen; the net is a democracy of voices in which Blue Gal or Kos or Atrios can be more influential than Chris Matthews or Rush.

It seems to me that Sen. Clinton and her advisors are running a campaign that relies primarily on the top-down one-way media model that prevailed during the years that they learned their political chops.

Sen. Obama's "ground game" -- his retail-politics grassroots organizing, his appearances in small venues, his viral video ads -- show an awareness that the one-way model no longer obtains.

Said more shortly: Sen. Clinton is running a very skillful model-1990 campaign. Sen. Obama is running a masterful model-2008 campaign.

*AYSDITT

Posted by: joel hanes on February 10, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

SVH: Perhaps you should start wondering why Obama is racking up 60% of the vote in so many of these states, a feat that Clinton only pulled off in Arkansas. Obama has a better message, better organization, and more committed supporters.

But of course, that's all increasingly being negatively characterized as 'cult-like,' rather than 'well-organized.' Why aren't people bothered by the slur that the only reason people might be very committed to Obama is because they were brain-washed into it?

Posted by: Kim on February 10, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Ohio's got a sizable black population. I can see that going to Obama a la Missouri.

Posted by: Quinn on February 10, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Dancer,

Bush approval is barely in the low 30th. Why would the other 60 or 70 percent vote for more of the same for McCain? The Republicans are selve destructing. Their candidates were a selection of fruitcakes from the beginning.

Democrats could have never accomplish that for them. Democrats will tell you they will vote for either one who gets the nomination.

No one in his right mind would vote for McCain or Huckabee. You have to be insane to do that.


Posted by: Renate on February 10, 2008 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

I haven't been able to read all the comments yet (jeez, Kevin, a post at 1:42 AM with a 126 comments by 10:30AM CST??? WTF do you feed your commenters!) but I want to challenge the "primaries are democratic, caucuses are elitist" meme that seems to be spinning out there to explain the pattern of Obama/Clinton win/losses.

Frankly, show me data or stop confabulating.

In our MN caucus, people could vote without staying for the caucus. The only limit was that the "poll" was between 6:30-8PM, and with the turnout, people were caught in traffic jams or had to wait in lines. By the time I got to the voting table, the conveners were using post-it notes as ballots. (I knew one Obama voter who didn't make it to his caucus because of the traffic. I knew one Clinton supporter who had to work. I know three Obama supporters who couldn't make it because of work.)

Second, at least my caucus seemed to be representative of MN as a whole--equal numbers of men and women, mostly white, but Asians, African-Americans and native Americans as well. All ages, 17-80s, party regulars and newcomers; a strong labor turnout (from their jackets) as well as latte-sipping professionals. There was no conversation about candidates, btw, no public glare to keep us from expressing our true opinion. We came in, filled out our post-it notes, and THEN the caucus began.

Clinton supporters need to stop dreaming that somehow Clinton really is the preferred candidate, but the caucus structure is contaminating her victory. The number of working class women or elderly who were unable to vote in the MN caucus for Hillary just isn't enough to overcome the huge majorities who favor Obama: In fact, my 84-year old mother got a ride to her caucus to cast her vote for Obama. All of this is anecdotal, I know, but at least I have observed a caucus, not simply rationalized on a WM thread.

I suspect that the caucus system v primary system is an illusion.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 10, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy,

and if Hillary gets the nomination, would you not vote for her? Would you stay home or vote McCain?

To my thinking, anyone voting for McCain because he/she hates Cinton so much has to be insane.

Posted by: Renate on February 10, 2008 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

"If Obama wins Ohio, for example, then he has broken out. Until then, no."

Sorry, Yancey, but you have entirely failed to make your case. This was not a discussion of whether Obama has "broken out." You wrote:

Obama's and Huckabee's problem continues to be their inability to widen their support outside this this passionate core.

When you look at money, delegates, number of voters, number of states, and so on, there is no comparison between Huckabee and Obama. Obama is either in a dead heat or is ahead of Clinton in each of these categories. There simply is no way to look at the available data and conclude that Obama is a niche candidate.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Renate: I was being sarcastic.

Yes, if Clinton is the nom I will vote for her.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Ohio's got a sizable black population. I can see that going to Obama a la Missouri.

That's true, and Ohio's rural voters I believe are less reliably red than Missouri's, from what I recall.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 10, 2008 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

That's true, and Ohio's rural voters I believe are less reliably red than Missouri's, from what I recall.

I don't think that's especially true. What is true is that there's a lot more urban centers in Ohio than Missouri - Missouri basically has St. Louis and Kansas City (Springfield is pretty small, although perhaps it counts as well - it is, at any rate, heavily Republican). Ohio has Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton, Akron, Youngstown...

I suspect that slightly favors Clinton. But I also think rural voters in Ohio, being less Southern Baptisty than rural voters in Missouri, are a lot more likely to go Obama. Obama should win in Cleveland and Columbus. Clinton should do well in the other urban centers, I think. We'll see

Posted by: John on February 10, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK


The press surely isn't talking about it, but caucuses seriously disenfranchise working class and older voters.

Actually, that's the MSM's explanation of why Hillary doesn't do well in caucuses.. her supporters are working class who don't have the time and/or are intimidated by the format.

Posted by: Andy on February 10, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

One thing I think people fail to consider is fear. If you had asked me a year ago if America was ready elect a black man as President I would have said no way, this country is just still too racist. Nothing is more thrilling to me than to be proved wrong. The reason for Hillary's support is driven by that same fear I had a year ago - that there is no way a black man can win. The more states Obama wins and proves this wrong, the more his support grows. Today - I believe enough of this country wants to take race off the table to elect our first black president. It can happen. Obama's candidacy is the shining beacon of hope that we can finally put the ugly past of this country behind us and become color-blind. We owe this to ourselves - to live up to everything this country is supposed to be: the home of the free and the land of opportunity where anyone can grow up to be president.

Posted by: arteclectic on February 10, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

I don't really understand the belittling of Obama's caucus wins; both Obama and Clinton knew going into this thing that the contests were a combination of caucuses and primaries. Obama's winning caucuses because he strategized to win caucuses. If every contest were a primary, he would've adjusted his strategy, and you have absolutely no idea how he would've done. If he'd strategized to win primaries, he probably would have; he certainly has won several, after all. Also, Obama's popular vote totals are damn near Clinton's, aren't they?

Posted by: jamfan on February 10, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

...I also think rural voters in Ohio, being less Southern Baptisty than rural voters in Missouri, are a lot more likely to go Obama.

John, that is a much clearer way of stating what I was thinking. Ohio will test a lot of theories and show whether Hillary's "focus/consolidate the big states" or Obama's "momentum" will prevail.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 10, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know how caucuses work. Do you get to vote in private, or do you have to declare your vote in public, perhaps in front of neighbors, friends and coworkers?

Posted by: ferd on February 10, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

McCain a goner? Maybe. Depends who the Dem nominee is. HRC: GOP comes out in droves driven by greater hate for her than for McCain, McCain wins. BHO: Not so much on the GOP side, McCain loses (probably in a landslide).

Posted by: CB on February 10, 2008 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

joel hanes: 'Sen. Clinton is running a very skillful model-1990 campaign. Sen. Obama is running a masterful model-2008 campaign."

That is a extremely good point!

Okay, back to the primaries v caucus results. By my reckoning, so far there have been nine caucuses and 16 primaries:
--Clinton has one caucus win: NV
--Clinton has eight primary wins: NH, AZ, AK, CA, MA, NJ, OK, TN
--Obama has eight caucus wins: NE, IA, CO, DE, ID, KS, MN, ND
--Obama has eight primary wins: SC, AL, CT, GA, IL, MS, UT,LA

Obama has won 16 of the state contests (64%) so far versus Clintons nine, (or if you want to include the irregular FLA & MI elections, 16 vs 11). Isn't the obvious parsimonious explanation that Clinton has less national support than Obama?

And when you look at her support, what one finds is that it tends to be the loyal, the ignorant, and those who are susceptible to Clinton's fear appeals, her sleazy attempts to frame Obama as The Black Candidate.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 10, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

arteclectic "We owe this to ourselves - to live up to everything this country is supposed to be: the home of the free and the land of opportunity where anyone can grow up to be president."

I liked what you said in this comment. Yes, we do owe this to ourselves.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 10, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Out here in Virginia, the enthusiasm for Obama is huge. I believe he is going to win big, but let's see what happens. The difference I think between Hillary and Barack is the genuine level of enthusiasm. I don't doubt at all that Barack would have won big in Washington, even if it was a regular primary election rather than a caucus.

Here in Virginia I know Republicans who would vote for Obama but will absolutely not vote for Hillary. It's just how it is and no amount of FranklyO spin is going to change that.

Obama will carry all the blue states that Hillary is winning right now. No sweat. Hillary won't win any purple states. Hillary cannot win Virginia.

Posted by: Manfred on February 10, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to argue that both the ability to win a plurality, and the ability to generate a significant cohort of enthusiastic supporters are important. The first property is measured by the primaries, the later is better measued by the caucus system. An optimum solution (from the standpoint of winning the general) would be a blend of the two methods. That seems to be what we have. I doubt it is by design.

A more interesting question (hint Kevin it might make a good subject heading). Why the huge discrepancy between Hillary/Obama related to class? I think conventional wisdom is that the lower classes felt the Clinto years were good ones for them. I'm not buying it. I think it has more to do with presentation style. Obama comes across as more intellectual. Hillary IMO chooses a speaking style, which seems less intellectual (even if she clearly is very intelligent).

Perhaps clothing is also an issue. Obama appears in suit and tie, which perhaps is a turnoff for the blue collar set. Hillary can choose a more class neutral wardrobe. This results IMO because womens fashions don't require the CEO look to be taken seriously.

Posted by: bigTom on February 10, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

CB - that sounds like a reasonable expectation. What's ironic, though, is that I think the conservatives have more to fear from an Obama presidency than a Clinton one. My guess is that she would be a much more conservative-leaning President, but the right is so blinded by whatever it is that makes them hate her and her husband (I still haven't figured that out), that they'll come out in droves to vote against her.

Posted by: Del Capslock on February 10, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Mike writes:

As for Florida and Michigan, because Obama adhered to the pledge not to campaign in those states, it would be manifestly unfair to seat those delegates. Though it would be a logistical nightmare, a do over for those two states would be a much better idea.

Mike, your analysis that includes the above statement seems reasonable to me, but let me add a little. I live in the Florida panhandle and saw the Obama “national ad buy” over and over again in the days immediately prior to the January 29 Florida primary. He was the only Dem candidate on the air. He appears to have gotten away with this pretty cleanly. Also, the Obama campaign is the only campaign who contacted me at home (3 times) after the DNC issued its campaign ban (which the candidates agreed to honor). Also, to this day I have never seen any information indicating that the candidates agreed that Florida delegates would not be seated. I’m afraid that the DNC overplayed its hand and created a really bad situation with regard to Florida democrats. Florida democrats are very much aware that we had record participation in our primary and that we were assured all along that our delegates would be seated in end, i.e., that those nasty republican state legislators who advanced the primary date would not succeed in disenfranchising us.

PaulB writes:

The reality is that if Clinton doesn't start to win actual elections in major states that will be hotly contested by the Republican nominee, it's likely going to be hard for the average American voter to feel that she has really established that she can win the election in November."

I’m not sure you appreciate Frankly0’s point. It is true that Obama has handily won a number of red state Dem primaries (plus Louisiana caucus) where the Republican candidate will most certainly be expected to win in the fall. This is a specific statement that applies to specific states (Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana). Mississippi is soon to be included in this list. This observation is political and analytical, not racist.

There is plenty of reason to speculate that Obama could do well in states like California and Florida, but he lost in those places, so analysts will continue to closely watch how he does in states like Missouri, where he squeaked by (good for him). I can see why some observers do not consider Illinois (his home state) and the caucus states as relevant to this particular issue. The issue is “how well will Obama do in primary elections in ethnically diverse states that are not dominated by African Americans”. Especially if those states appear to be states that a democrat can win in the fall.

I would bet that both the Obama and Clinton strategists are very aware of this question and that they are not running away from it internally.

The very near future will tell the tale.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 10, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

that sounds like a reasonable expectation. What's ironic, though, is that I think the conservatives have more to fear from an Obama presidency than a Clinton one. My guess is that she would be a much more conservative-leaning President, but the right is so blinded by whatever it is that makes them hate her and her husband (I still haven't figured that out), that they'll come out in droves to vote against her.

Posted by: emlak ilanları on February 10, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

"I’m not sure you appreciate Frankly0’s point."

Oh, I do. It's just that, like damn near all of his points regarding Obama, it's wholly unsupported. I was simply presenting an alternate view. I don't agree with his theory and I don't agree with my counter-theory, since they are both far too simplistic and they both depend on ignoring data that doesn't fit the theory.

Your restatement of frankly0's point really doesn't match what frankly0 said, so I'm not going to address it. Here's what he wrote:

The reality is that if Obama doesn't start to win actual elections in major states with diverse populations (which here means that the states are disproportionately dominated by his core African-American demographic), it's likely going to be hard for the average American voter to feel that he has really established himself as the rightful winner of the nomination.

There are several problems with this statement, including the one that several people on this thread have noted -- that frankly0 simply ignored data that didn't fit this overly simplistic analysis. Moreover, frankly0 wasn't making a statement about the general election, he was predicting that "the average American voter" would feel that Obama really hadn't won the nomination, or had won it "illegitimately", a statement wholly unsupported by the available data.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Especially if those states appear to be states that a democrat can win in the fall."

So let's rephrase it, then. Which states that Kerry won would Obama have trouble winning? And which states that Kerry lost could Obama win?

As I said, that really isn't the argument that frankly0 made, since he was talking about "legitimacy," but your point, unlike frankly0's, is a discussion worth having.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Pardon if someone in the 150 comments above said this already, but possibly Hillary's voters need to work on caucus day rather than spending 2 hours mingling with their neighbors.

Posted by: robsalk on February 10, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who participated in the Washington state caucuses yesterday, I think I might have a little insight into why Obama is able to turn out his supporters, while Clinton struggles.

At my precinct, where the vote was 3 to 1 for Obama, the turnout was heavily male and heavily well-off. This was a Saturday, when well-off males, by and large, don't have to work. About half of the attendees were women as well, but they were split between older Hillary supporters and young professionals, who were mostly supporting Obama.

Most of the attendees arrived at the caucus already committed to their candidates, with only a few undecideds. So the argument that Obama's supporters are better at cajoling voters onto their side rings hollow to me. I think it's mostly about the structure of caucuses and how they bias the results in favor of the candidate whose supporters can attend a caucus. Working class folks generally have to work on Saturday, middle class mothers have kids to watch, and poorer voters don't have the luxury (or chore?) of spending 2-3 hours with a bunch of people talking politics. These groups are largely Hillary's base, so naturally she's going to struggle in a caucus.

For most of these reasons I don't like caucuses, and I say that as an Obama supporter. Going forward, we should stop using them. I understand why the party likes them, because they are definitely party building processes as well; caucuses expose you to the way the parties work in a way that primaries just can't. But they're just not small-d democratic enough for my taste.

Posted by: Jake on February 10, 2008 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding McCain, I have to agree with Josh Marshall over at TalkingPointsMemo that the Washington State Republican Party has behaved rather oddly. Quoting Josh in full:

As you know, John McCain lost two of the three contests yesterday. He was losing narrowly in Washington state and then pulled ahead by a narrow margin (less than two points) toward the end. But then with 87% of the returns counted, the Washington state GOP, which runs the caucuses stopped releasing results. That left us and a lot of other news organizations in a bit of a quandary last night since it looked like McCain was going to pull it off. But as late as 1:30 AM on the east coast promised new results kept failing to materialize.

Then over night the Washington state GOP put out a press release announcing McCain the winner based on the 87% returns. Now, I think it would be borderline for a media organization to declare one candidate a winner when the margin separating first and second was 1.8% with 13% of the results still uncounted. But for the officials holding the election to declare the result on that basis is simply bizarre. But that's what they did.

The release says final results are next expected to be available until Monday.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

> There is plenty of reason to speculate
> that Obama could do well in states like
> California and Florida, but he lost in those
> places

I am honestly deeply puzzled by what people who say this mean. Obama "lost" a _primary_ election that was fairly evenly balanced between two good candidates. In such a situation there will always be a "loser" and a sense of disappointment to be sure. But the apparent implication is that he will therefore lose this(these) state(s) to a Republican in a general election. I suppose there is a possible chain of emotions and events that would take the candidate between those two points but I have a hard time seeing it. California Democrats are going to vote for McCain in November if Obama (or Clinton) is the nominee? Really? I contributed to, worked for, and voted for Kerry even though he was my 3rd choice in the primary.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 10, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

PaubB:
It's true that when you start speaking for "the average American voter" you are going out on a limb, but that's a very mild crime in a blog comment section where people mostly feel free to "think out loud".

Posted by: little ole jim on February 10, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

I was at a caucus in WA, and frankly, young people are just excited about Obama so they take the time to show up.

The fellow next to me who had lived in Arkansas for a number of years and had lots of convincing praise for Clinton from times "before she was famous", none the less he acknowledged the effect Obama was having and said it was good for the party and that he'll likely win because of it.

There was another, smaller group of people that were highly motivated to come out: Irrational Clinton Haters.

Posted by: Boronx on February 10, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

emlak ilanları & Del Capslock (there are two of you??)"but the right is so blinded by whatever it is that makes them hate her and her husband (I still haven't figured that out)"

Conservatives, however weird they may seem to us, value "character"--courage, loyalty, clean-living, integrity--more than liberals (for whom competence & policy wonkiness is key.) If Bill's "draft-dodger" status and BJ in the WH didn't give you a clue why conservatives find him creepy, think about his recent bashing for Hill, how the Clinton machine chose to employ the Republican "southern" strategy against a fellow Democratic (by labelling Obama as the "black" candidate) to help HRC win more white and Latino votes. For me, that was a big, big EWWWW. I now have better appreciation of why the conservatives find the Clintons so objectionable.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 10, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Conservatives, however weird they may seem to us, value 'character'--courage, loyalty, clean-living, integrity--more than liberals."

Um ... Were you, perchance, being sarcastic? It's difficult to tell.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

In addition to the Washington caucuses yesterday, there will be a primary on February 19th.

That should be interesting, right? Now we can compare the caucus vote to the primary vote and see what the difference is. Unfortunately, the primary vote will also have a bias, although probably much less. Apparently 20-30% of the ballots being returned so far will not be counted as the voter did not indicate their party on the ballot envelope. Also, I got my primary ballot last week, before the caucuses, and voted by mail in addition to attending the caucus. How many people were confused into thinking they had voted since they sent in a ballot and then did not attend the caucuses?

Should only the really passionate supporters be the people to vote? Doesn't a democracy mean one person, one vote? We should be ensuring that everybody votes, regardless of whether they're somewhat passive, focussed on life outside of politics, introverts or whatever.

The undemocratic process in WA and every other caucus state is a poor one and the DNC has really messed up with regard to MI and FL.

Great job Democrats!

Posted by: Laura on February 10, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's success yesterday may stem from the fact that the Clinton campaign predicted that they would have the nomination sewn up by this point. Why put resources into post-Feb 5 states if you don't have too...?
Also, and as an Obama supporter I sincerely hope this is not the case, but there is always a discrepancy between who people say they will vote for, and who they actually vote for in the privacy of the voting booth. People have always said they'd be happy to vote for a black candidate (or a woman, etc.) only for the white male to win by overwhelming margins.
That isn't an option in a caucus. You have to publicly declare and stand for who you support. Harboring racial ( or gender) insensitivities in private is a hell of a lot different than doing so in front of all your neighbors.

Posted by: KiminDC on February 10, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

I would say this:

The reason that Obama does better in caucuses is because his supporters are more passionate. They believe in him so strongly that they are willing to give up two hours of their time to caucus. Hillary's supporters, on the other hand, are not particularly passionate about her and are not willing to make the extra effort that caucusing entails. It's about the intensity of support for each candidate.

And to be honest, it should be no suprise to anyone that Obama's supporters are more passionate since he has by far the more inspirational message. Hillary's message is that she's an experienced, competent woman (which she is)....Obama is running on a message of hope and change. Which do you think inspires people more?

Posted by: mfw13 on February 10, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

The obvious conclusion to draw from frankly0's statement quoted by PaulB at 12:52 is that "the average voter" doesn't think African American voters really count all that much. Most African American voters are registered Democrats, but they just don't quite rank with Hillary's white women over-40 "core demographic", for example, since African Americans are a minority.

frankly0 has dismissed the African American vote all the while, but his argument is particularly unimpressive now that Hillary and Obama are in a dead heat, and Obama has demonstrated an ability to attract voters from all over the demographic map.

Posted by: Lucy on February 10, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

I was also in a WA caucus. I live in a district composed of empty-nesters mixed with some young families and no young voters to speak of, yet we went 5 Obama to 1 uncommitted. The only people to switch votes were a couple Hillary supporters to uncommitted after it became obvious she would not get a delegate.

One of our friends is a life-long Republican and daughter of a retired General who finally got disgusted enough to abandon her party and vote for Obama. She wouldn't even consider Hillary for the usual litany of reasons, none of which were completely rational.

It is pretty clear to me that Obama is winning the caucuses because his message of hope is resonating and people are desperate to believe it. I am cynical enough to think our hopes will most likely end up crushed again, but I, along with the majority of my neighbors are willing to suspend our disbelief and give in to hope.


Posted by: Arf on February 10, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Jake: "I think it's mostly about the structure of caucuses and how they bias the results in favor of the candidate whose supporters can attend a caucus. Working class folks generally have to work on Saturday, middle class mothers have kids to watch, and poorer voters don't have the luxury (or chore?) of spending 2-3 hours with a bunch of people talking politics. These groups are largely Hillary's base, so naturally she's going to struggle in a caucus."

I made this comment upthread. I am still waiting for more than simple assertion that caucuses are a non-representative sample of the voting population, that something about the structure of caucuses systematically biases the caucus results against HRC. It is an empirical question, and I'm eager to see the data.

Posted by: PTate in MN on February 10, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Someone needs to do polls on who actually goes to a caucus before we can make a good guess, but as an itinerant and regular blatherer, I would say:

Obama's demographic, especially in majority-Caucasian states, skews pretty young. If a young person is involved in a campaign, they're going to be more enthusiastic, and thus more likely to get up the gumption to caucus rather than stay home. Not to mention that married, middle-aged folks tend to have childcare needs.

Hillary's demographic, in majority-Caucasian states, skews towards older women. The amount of excitement and enthusiasm that Obama is creating would appear (modulo evidence from polls) to be much greater than that Hillary is generating. Translation: more caucus wins for Obama.

Or look at it another way, Kevin: if the electorate is evenly split between the two, enthusiasm is going to count a *lot* when it comes to turning people out. The difference between "C'mon, let's go!" and "Yeah, OK; I'm coming, I'm coming" is huge in a caucus. Not to mention when it comes to arguing "undecided" people over to one side or another.

That's my theory, and I'm stickin' with it!

Posted by: Douglas Moran on February 10, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

From littleolejim:

There is plenty of reason to speculate that Obama could do well in states like California and Florida, but he lost in those places, so analysts will continue to closely watch how he does in states like Missouri, where he squeaked by (good for him). I can see why some observers do not consider Illinois (his home state) and the caucus states as relevant to this particular issue. The issue is “how well will Obama do in primary elections in ethnically diverse states that are not dominated by African Americans”. Especially if those states appear to be states that a democrat can win in the fall.

The above statement, and similar statements by others, do not make sense to me for a few reasons:

1. Is the contention here that because Hillary beat Obama in California, that McCain would beat Obama in California? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Losing a Democratic state in a Democratic primary does not mean that Democratic state will suddenly become Republican in the general election.

2. Obama can win in ethnically diverse areas. Let's look at California a little more closely, look at the Bay area. Obama won Alameda county, which shouldn't come as a huge surprise because that includes the African-American-dominated big city of Oakland (though Oakland does have a big Hispanic population as well).....however, across the bridge, Obama also won San Francisco county which is very ethnically diverse (43% White, 20% Chinese, 15% Hispanic, 8% Black, 14% Other).

3. I'd be more worried about a candidate being completely unable to win support in Red states. With Obama, it's possible he'll win a few of those states that normally go Republican. With Hillary, she'll probably win Arkansas, but virtually all other Red states become immediate losses (assuming the right eventually gets over it's McCain hatred).


Maybe I'm assuming too much, but this whole "Obama can't win ethnically diverse areas" argument seems to be based solely on how he does with Latinos in CA, AZ, and NV (maybe FL as well). Now, there's something to that, Latinos in those states preferred Hillary...but that doesn't mean that they will prefer McCain in the general election.

Preferring Hillary over Obama doesn't mean one dislikes or wouldn't support Obama. I prefer Obama, but would support Hillary if she gets the nomination.

Posted by: Joe on February 10, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

PTate in MN writes:

how the Clinton machine chose to employ the Republican "southern" strategy against a fellow Democratic (by labelling Obama as the "black" candidate) to help HRC win more white and Latino votes.

As a guy who has watched people implement the southern strategy his entire adult life, my opinion is that you are on very thin ice here.

Looking at the entire MLK/JFK/LBJ quote, it was obvious to me that the MSM truncated and mischaracterized Hillary’s words. Then Obama took advantage by calling her wording “unfortunate”, an age old code word for expressing sorrow over a racist remark. That was condescending and uncalled for.

The morning after the New Hampshire primary upset, Cuomo (then unknown to the world at large) was using the phrase “shuck and jive”, but Obama campaign was simultaneously before world-wide TV cameras urging South Carolina African American democratic primary voters to note Clinton’s lack of tears for Hurricane Katrina victims, a thoroughly bogus issue and a direct play of the race card. That’s called a panicky reaction to losing. The MSN didn’t portray it that way, but I pretty much trust my own eyes and ears.

Ted and Caroline Kennedy are good people. If I lived in Massachusetts, I’d probably vote them, and I sure voted for John Kerry when I had the chance. But the apparent blind spots that people have regarding race amuses southerners. When Bill Clinton noted Jesse Jackson’s past primary victories in South Carolina, he was comprehending a fact, not making a racially disparaging comment.

Bill Clinton did not make the South Carolina primary a referendum on race. The Obama campaign gets due credit for that. They needed a big win, got it, and survived to fight another day.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 10, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

You gotta pick your fights where you think you can win. I think most caucus take place where people are more like minded or are apt to go with the flow of the majority. I don't think , however, that it's a good indicator of the better general election candidate. Obama has reluctantly agreed to only two more debates because he doesn't want too much natinal exposure against Hillary. In debates Hillary wins big in the greater cross section of voters. As to delegates,
it's worked up to a point. But it hasn't provided him any momentum. We'll just have to see what it leads to.

Posted by: FILLPHIL on February 10, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is reaping the benefits of the "50 state policy" as well as his own gift for generating enthusiasm.

Normally, the "establishment candidate" will win out over an insurgent because he or she is more familiar to the party's most faithful supporters, who are the ones guaranteed to turn out for every election, caucus or primary. Every "insurgent" vows that he or she will bring out droves of newcomers, who fail to materialize (especially for caucuses) when they realize the amount of effort involved.

Unfortunately, the Democrats had allowed many of the party faithful to wander away over the years in states they didn't feel they could carry in the general, and that meant that there were fewer long-time voters to show up for Clinton in places like Kansas, Idaho, and Alaska.

The Democrats started trying to reverse this after the 2004 elections, and the result has been record-breaking attendance in nearly every state.

Most of those new people are breaking for Obama whether they initially supported him or not. Fairly or not, Clinton is being held as the standard-bearer of the policy that led to Democratic support dwindling away in the first place, except in places like Arkansas, where the Clintons are genuinely appreciated for getting out the vote. Her actual campaign is strengthening that view. She's concentrating on winning the big blues and letting Obama take all of the little red guys.

Obama is campaigning like all of the traditionally red states matter, and producing thousands of people walking through the door saying "I've never caucused before, but I'm here to vote for Obama. What do I do?" This has to have an effect on the long-timers who were already there. The more decrepit the Democratic machine was in a particular state, the more hope people are feeling now that they might have a candidate who can win it. That makes Obama's message resonate with them all the more.

Posted by: Splitting Image on February 10, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Joe: I am not saying Obama could not win a state like California (perhaps I shouldn't have included that in my example). I am saying the plenty of objective observers have noted his lopsided wins are in states with caucuses or in states with large numbers of African American primary voters. Thus, a halfway decisive victory in a state like Ohio would be huge. Missouri was good, but almost a tie.

So, we just have to watch a little longer. I am certainly not making any confident predictions. If Obama can break some molds, more power to him, it will most definitely make an impression on me.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 10, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting how last night was complete opposits for the two parties.

The Republican nomination is settled. But the votes last night were counter to that. The Democrat nomination is very unsettled but the votes last night were dominated by one side.

McCain's failure ought to be a huge red flag for Republicans. It means that he's losing the independent vote and the conservative vote.

If trends hold, on election day, he'll get the conservative vote but he won't get the independent vote - they went to Obama last night.

The only way the Dems could lose now is if they selected Hillary as their candidate.

Posted by: Bub on February 10, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

I caucused yesterday in WA. I am on Seattle's "Eastside," so it is suburban, skewing older, terribly white with a smattering of working-class and young people.

First, caucus turnout was tremendous, easily doubling 2004. There were fewer young peiople than I had expected. In my precinct, the most passionate of the few canddiate pitches were definitely for Hillary, who seems to have a lock on the older women. They love her (and hate Republicans more than other people seem to). We had a pair of Iraq veterans who appear to be Native American who caucused for Obama.

I guess my conclusion of that even though I personally received six or more robocalls and several mailings for Hillary versus only only s single call for Obama, and despite the fact that the most passionate and best pitches came from Hillary supporters in my caucus, we voted 41-19 for Obama over Hillary in my precinct.

Here, people just think he's the better candidate, the one who will NOT motivate Republican voters to vote against the Dem, the one to steal independents from a weak McCain, and the one to be an inspirational leader for the US to present to the world.

I am an Edwards guy who is troubled by Hillary's vote against the cluster bomb ban and who suspects that she would dig the unitary executive a little too much. We need a change, even from the same old Democrats.

Posted by: Daddy Love on February 10, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama has reluctantly agreed to only two more debates because he doesn't want too much natinal exposure against Hillary."

And your evidence that this is his rationale is, what, exactly? How many debates has he had so far? This is just silly.

"In debates Hillary wins big in the greater cross section of voters."

And your evidence for this is, what, exactly? If Hillary is winning so big, shouldn't she be winning more primaries and caucuses?

"As to delegates, it's worked up to a point. But it hasn't provided him any momentum."

When could the events thus far have given either candidate any momentum? They've basically traded victories and they are in a dead heat. Neither has any real momentum at this time.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

"I am saying the plenty of objective observers have noted his lopsided wins are in states with caucuses or in states with large numbers of African American primary voters."

And plenty of objective observers have noted that, to make this statement, you have to conveniently ignore states he's won that don't have caucuses and don't have large numbers of African-American primary voters.

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary wants frequent debates for a number of reasons.

1. She's trailing in money, debates are the easiest way to get national exposure without having to spend a lot of money.

2. While Barak is tied up debating, he can't be out raising money and building support. Hillary on the other hand has Bill to do that. Her campaign can essentially be in two places at once, Obama's can't.

3. She tends to do pretty well in debates. She by no means dominates (I thought Obama won the last one), but winning debates can only help her campaign.

4. Since Obama is expected to do well in caucuses and primaries over the next two weeks, Hillary winning debates might offset some of the momentum Obama will have gained.

Posted by: Joe on February 10, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

And plenty of objective observers have noted that, to make this statement, you have to conveniently ignore states he's won that don't have caucuses and don't have large numbers of African-American primary voters.

Correct. Once again...
Obama won the primary in Utah, which has an almost nonexistant minority population
Obama won the primary in Connecticut, which has less than the national percentage of blacks
Obama won the primary in Missouri, which has less than the national percentage of blacks
Obama and Clinton seem to have completely tied in New Mexico, which has less than the national percentage of blacks AND in which Obama won the white vote
Obama won the white vote in California
Obama won caucuses in a bunch of heavily white Great Plains/Mountain West/Pacific NW states, and I've yet to see any evidence presented that voters in these states didn't just flat out prefer him to Clinton
Obama won his home state of Illinois, which has only slightly more than the national percentage of blacks
Obama won white independents in Arizona, though he lost white Democrats

People keep ignoring all of this stuff for some reason. His caucus wins still strike me, aside from the organizational strength, as more an indication of geographical strength than a result of disenfranchised demographics or strictly a function of the caucus process. The Utah win bears that out; what will people say if he also wins the Wisconsin primary? Will that be ignored, too?

Posted by: jbryan on February 10, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Washington state's black population is below the national norm also.

Posted by: Daddy Love on February 10, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

On why Obama does so well in the caucuses: I heard one commentator make the observation last Tuesday evening that caucus voters are not acting in secret, but in the open when they join a group at the caucus. He wondered if a black candidate would get such a high level of support in the general election where the ballot is (supposed to be) secret. In other words, if a person has racial prejudice, it's more likely to be hidden. Does that make any sense? Sad commentary on the American electorate, but it may be true.

Posted by: Dick Fisher on February 10, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

tn reads my comments and states, "Every day Obama supporters prove that they are haters."

Just the sort of stirring rebuttal I would expect from a Clintonista. No explanation of how 35 years of supposed devoted service has equaled exactly no notable legislative accomplishments.

Perhaps she is speaking of how long she has been an HBO subscriber?

Perhaps she is speaking of having shown her ham-handedness is botching healthcare with her secretive healthcare meetings, inspiring Dick Cheney eight years later.

Perhaps she is speaking of having forced such a heavy-handed approach to bringing about enlightenment regarding gays in the military, that she actually set the cause back by 20 years.

Perhaps she is speaking of her chromosome-driven pursuit to find a female AG, even if they weren't the most qualified candidates (Zoe Baird...Kimba Wood...the Draconian Janet Reno), inspiring the selection of Alberto Gonzales ten years later.

I DO hate the idea that we may be strapped with a Clinton-Bush for another eight years, in that both dynasties are arrogant, vindictive warmongers.

But in that the primary season so far has resulted in Obama having won 18 out of 28 states, I would say there are a number of fellow haters out there.

You have to wonder about the self-destructive tendencies of Clintonistas when they are fully aware that half of their own party faithful detest the woman...and that's before you get around to try and draw Independents and Republicans.

Posted by: filmex on February 10, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

That's the so-called "Bradley effect," isn't it? I don't beleive it, for a couple of reasons. People were proudly wearing the stickers or whatever of their preferred candidate, and the voting, while not quite secret ballot, was certainly not identified in public with the casters. At the end, a single person tallied the preferences people had written in.

I kind of find it hard to believe that people who would vote for Hillary secretly would not vote for her in the caucus.

At any rate, the Bradley effect is supposed to explain why a candidate would poll better than the % of the vote they receive, while in Washington at least, it was the opposite.

Posted by: Daddy Love on February 10, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

I would think that the reason Obama doesn't want too many more debates is because at this point they're useless. The candidates have already been debating for the better part of a year, and just about everything there is to know about their positions and personalities is already out there for the public to examine.

What exactly would be the purpose of having more debates?

Posted by: mfw13 on February 10, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the comments about "how few primaries Obama has won so far"...

According to my trusty spreadsheet, there have been 19 primaries (I'm not counting Michigan and Florida, for obvious reasons. Primaries where no delegates are at stake AND you not only don't campaign but withdraw your name from the ballot in deference to the national party's desires shouldn't count), compared to 12 caucuses Out of those 19 primaries, Obama has won 9 and Hillary has won 10. That seems pretty darn close to me.

But somehow, Obama's wins "don't count" because they were in states with large percentages of African-Americans voting (South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana) or if they're white, they're "not big enough" (Connecticut, Delaware, Utah), or they're big states that are primarily white, but they're his "home area" (Illinois and Missouri).

So, let's play the same game with Hillary. Her ten wins were New York and New Jersey ("home area"), Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma (her other "home area") New Hampshire and New Mexico ("too small", and New Mexico she won by under 1%), heck, Arizona has 56 pledged delegates to Connecticut's 48, so Arizona could be considered "too small" as well.

So, if someone were to really try and make the inane argument that Obama's primary wins "don't count", then this is based solely on Hillary's ability to win the primaries in Massachusetts and California. Ohhkkaaay, then.

And of course, let's dismiss caucuses altogether. I mean, it's not like Hillary went into this campaign with considerable resources and any Democratic party machinery behind her to build a solid campaign organization that could get out the caucus vote, right? She's the poor underdog, who has to fall back on a few little known supporters who carry no clout in the party at all and has to recruit her husband to help the campaign.

OK, so her husband is the last DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT, but really, that doens't mean anything...

And last I haven't yet commented on how the front-loading of the primaries and caucuses helps "party insiders" by requiring vastly larger amount fo funds to effectively compete and giving little time for a little known person to capitalize on any success they might have in Iowa or New Hampshire. Ever wonder what Obama might have done had "Super Duper Tuesday" been in March instead of February? Notice how much he closed the gap once people outside of Illinois started learning who he was? BTW- I'm in Illinois, and this was the pattern in his '04 run: among people who heard him/saw him/learned about him, his positive/negative ratio went thru the roof. Heck, think about how amazing it is that he's been able to attract the campaign donations and campaign workers he has in a relatively short period of time.

Or just discount every one of his wins with some lame excuse. He's won 10 caucuses (11 if he took American Samoa) and 9 primaries for 19 total wins out of 31 total contests. But that doesn't mean he's a strong candidate or anything...

Posted by: synchronicity on February 10, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is a community organizer. He knows how to organize people to get things done. I have been to organizing meetings of his campaign, and it is clear that his experience as an organizer has translated into his having a very professional and well trained organization on the ground in caucus states. I am clear that the reason there is such a huge turnout at the caucuses is due his ability to inspire and organize a very large group of volunteers.

Posted by: Heartlight3 on February 10, 2008 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Heartlight3, you're right. And here in NM I never heard from or saw any Clinton people at all...except the gravelly voiced, male robocall I got late in the day, well *after* I had already voted. In contrast, Obama supporters here had taken their own initiative (!!!) and started organizing and working even before the Obama campaign people decided to come in to the state.
No one ever came to my house to canvass for Clinton, but I canvassed about 250 houses for Obama. It ought to be crystal clear what the difference is.

Posted by: Kim (in NM) on February 10, 2008 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Two things - I think that Cal has a valid question; how many non-caucus (primary) states, containing no more than the national average of African Americans, has Sen. Obama carried? Are those primary wins that dependent on the size of the African American vote? That, I believe, is a valid question, whether for a causcus, a primary, or the general election as it's nice to have an as accurate as possible idea of one's support. It is no more racist than wondering what percentage of Sen. Clinton's primary wins are based on the "woman" vote is misogynist.
As presently constituted, however, caucuses are probably less democratic than primaries. The differences between statewide polling and the caucus results should be a cause for concern; just what does it mean? Enthusiasm, while admirable, does not equate to democracy (see Robespierre). For caucuses to become more democratic precincts would need to be limited in population to something around 1000 voters and the PARTY, not the candidates, would be have to be responsible for getting members to the caucus. And there still would be the problem of people needing babysitters or those with odd hours or more than one job.
I see little difference between the two senators in actual policies, apart from national health, and, assuming the party gets behind the nominee, don't doubt that that person will be the next president (the latter belief is apparently shared by several posters going by the vehemence of their posts).

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

I think that Cal has a valid question; how many non-caucus (primary) states, containing no more than the national average of African Americans, has Sen. Obama carried?

It's been answered: Connecticut, Utah, Missouri, and New Mexico.

Posted by: jbryan on February 10, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has only won the white vote in two primaries, one of them his home state. He's losing almost all the primaries and when he has won it's been a narrow victory (again, except his home state).

Can we kill this meme dead? Obama hasn't lost almost all the primaries. There have been 21 primaries, of which he's won 9. That includes Michigan, where he wasn't on the ballot, Florida, where no one campaigned, and New Mexico, which hasn't been won by either of them yet. If you exclude the two where delegates were not counted, he's won 9 of 19 and could still win New Mexico. So unless by "almost all," you mean "slightly less than half," that's just untrue.

And he's won several of the primaries he won by good margins: South Carolina, Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, obviously Illinois, Utah, and Louisiana. That's 7 of his 9 wins by 10 points or more. However, I suppose that all of those except Illinois and Utah somehow aren't as important because those black votes just don't matter as much.

Also in Delaware he split the white male vote with Clinton, while in Georgia, Connecticut, California (where he lost the white vote by one point), New Hampshire, and Massachusetts he won the white male vote (granted that in MA he only won it by one point). So if it's such a concern that he wins a lot of primaries on the strength of black votes, where's the concern when Clinton wins the white vote in primaries on the strength of white women? Especially in primaries that she won overall? Not that I think either of those is a concern, but for those expressing concern over the primaries Obama's won on the strength of black voters, I wonder why the former seems of less concern.

Not to mention the fact that he has won the white vote in caucus states, but somehow that seems less important too because... Clinton didn't win them? Look, I agree that caucuses suck and should be done away with, but that doesn't erase his winning the white vote in them.

Posted by: LS on February 10, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

"That, I believe, is a valid question, whether for a causcus, a primary, or the general election as it's nice to have an as accurate as possible idea of one's support. It is no more racist than wondering what percentage of Sen. Clinton's primary wins are based on the "woman" vote is misogynist."

But why does either of those questions even remotely matter? We know that Hillary is, by and large, taking the majority of the female vote and that Obama is taking the majority of the African-American vote. Now that you know that, what difference does it make? Both of these are likely to continue to be true in the national election.

You can use those facts to help determine who is more likely to win in upcoming primaries and caucuses, but then what?

The reason that people get irritated at all of this is that, depending on who says it and how it is said, there seems to be an implicit assumption that some of these votes don't "count", that some victories are somehow tainted. Good ol' misogynistic Chris Matthews, for example, delights in pointing out that women are voting for Hillary, as though there were something wrong with that and as though men weren't voting for the male candidate.

"The differences between statewide polling and the caucus results should be a cause for concern"

Why? We already have had our noses rubbed in it this primary season that statewide polls have been dreadfully inaccurate, sometimes by double digits. Why should I be "concerned" about the differences between polling and caucus results, particularly when the justification for that "concern" is a single poll from a single organization?

Posted by: PaulB on February 10, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

It's been answered: Connecticut, Utah, Missouri, and New Mexico.

No one's won New Mexico yet, at least not as of yesterday. Clinton is still leading. However, if it's important, Obama does seem to have won the white vote in New Mexico according to the CNN exit polls. If Clinton does ultimately win New Mexico, it will be on the strength of the Latin@ vote.

Posted by: LS on February 10, 2008 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Did you get that? 26%! For a presumptive nominee!"

So, McCain picks up where Bush's leaves off...?

Posted by: deacon on February 10, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

I've been a Dem voter for many years and I'm likely to criticize Dems as well as Repubs for poor management of our Country. However, having lived thru these last 7+ yrs of Repub mismanagement I'm am astounded that anyone would even want to vote Repub this time. I would like to ask any Repub troller why he/she will be voting Repub. I know many of us Dems have our guesses but for the sake of me I can't believe anyone could support such failure. It's befuddling and I just gotta know. Please help!

Posted by: fillphil on February 10, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary thinks she is unbeatable and McCain "The WarHawk" knows he is beatable.

Posted by: Al on February 10, 2008 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

One factor that seems to have gone curiously unmentioned in this thread (fascinating though it is)- is the John Edwards factor; and how the Clinton campaign may have constructed its strategy on the assumption that there would be two, rather than one, "not-Hillary" candidate in the Dem race. It just may be a guess, but it would have made sense, with Edwards in the mix, to think that the two men would have split the anti-Clinton (or the indifferent-to-Clinton) vote, and dilute the "not-Hillary" sentiments in just enough states to give HRC the delegate edge (or the appearance thereof) - so that the Clinton campaign's resources could be allocated more "efficiently".
Of course, as it has turned out:
a) John Edwards never ran as strongly as expected and dropped out early; and b) Obama supporters proved more numerous and motivated than the Clinton machine had thought. And with the Democratic race a contest between Hillary and "not-Hillary", the alternative choice has proved (unfortunately for them) fairly attractive.


Posted by: Jay C on February 10, 2008 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yes, and there is also the fact that Barack Obama really IS Teh Awesome!

Posted by: Jay C on February 10, 2008 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

People aren't voting for McCain because wingnuts prefer to follow their talk radio masters. Everything distilled down to great sounding soundbyte.

The soundbyte/Fox News junkies are pounding him for not hating Mexicans and for hating torture.Their fearless and dumbass followers are marching in lockstep.

The real thing to see here is that Americans in general are plain butt-filled tired of the modern American Republican conservative: ignorant, intolerant and unable to admit the truth about what they have done to this country. People want change.

The question isn't why McCain isn't winning, it's why Republicans aren't winning. It is because of the crimes and bad policies of the Republican administration and bec ause Americans are tired of it all.

the more they ride Bush's coatails, the worse theyw ill fall.

President Barack Hussein Obama. Say it again.

Posted by: moi on February 11, 2008 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Manfred (at 12:32),
I think you are correct, the final decision on which candidate will finally get the Democratic nomination for the GE will probably come down to who does best in the purple states.

Let's see,you say Obama will get VA -- perhaps, but, Hillary already won TN, FL, etc., and she will probably win TX, OH, etc., in March. So,. . .

Posted by: Erika S on February 11, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Bush says McCain needs to win over the conservatives, Thats reason enough for me not to vote for McCain, because the CHIMP said so. We already have one disgraced lame duck what are we going to do with TWO?

Posted by: Al on February 11, 2008 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

it's interesting how some people consider caucuses undemocratic. there are many forms of democracy and caucuses certainly are to be included among them. caucuses are a more open and accountable form than primaries. individual citizens can stand up and express themselves in a way that can directly persuade others (both negatively or positively). so much of our political opinion is shaped by the MSM, in particular television, that caucuses are one remaining bastion of direct citizen control which should never be surrendered. don't want to take the time? not worth the bother? your choice.
what of keeping an open mind to possible persuasion by the reasoning of others? should this not be done before voting? voting without considering what you're voting for is a good way to a bad end. consider Germany in the early 1930s. or America in 2000 and 2004.
democracy isn't easy. losing freedom is. just look at the last eight years in this country. maintaining a republic is hard work. ours is on the verge of collapse.

Posted by: fahrender on February 11, 2008 at 4:14 AM | PERMALINK

caucuses are a more open and accountable

Your neighbors, coworkers, clergy and employers know how you vote in a caucus and can use that information against you. Voting in a caucus makes one accountable to everyone in the political geographic unit. That is why caucuses have such low turnouts compared to primaries. Caucuses are favored by the wealthy and connected because they keep loners and iconoclasts from voting.

Posted by: Brojo on February 11, 2008 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK
As far as we can tell, frankly0 isn't a Hillary supporter.

I think from November on its been pretty clear that frankly0 has been committed to Clinton because he thinks she is a crypto-progressive. From this thread:

So, while I think people are right to react to Hillary that she's politically expedient, and in many ways insincere, I don't see that as necessarily a bad sign. That which she has embraced as politically expedient she can as easily reject when the expediency passes. She can as well be insincere in her seeming adoption of corporate interests as she may be of anything else.

Of course, only Hillary can determine how this all will actually play out.

But I can see a real possibility it will turn out very well.

Call it the Politics of Hope.

Posted by: frankly0 on November 19, 2007 at 2:35 PM

...

I guess what I'm arguing in general is that I believe that inside of Hillary, in a place now carefully hidden from sight, there still beats strongly a Progressive heart.

And when the day comes that she becomes President, I expect -- or at least suspect -- she will do much that will amaze Democrats and appall Republicans.

Posted by: frankly0 on November 19, 2007 at 2:56 PM

Posted by: cmdicely on February 11, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I caucused in Washington State on Saturday...if you want to call it that. I found it more to be a lot of rude Obama supporters calling Hillary supporters "baby killers" and "war mongers." Claiming "Clinton will prolong the war forever." "Clinton supports the Patriot Act and Obama wants it tossed out." "Hillary Clinton is a liar and a crook." Those are just the highlights I can remember. Now to that add that no person who signed in had to show any form of identification. Persons signing in didn't even know their street addresses. All in all, I was appalled. According to AP, Obama supporters are better educated than Clinton supporters. Gee...at least all the Clinton people knew their address.

Posted by: NavyMom on February 14, 2008 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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